When entering the Amazonia rainforest building, the first animal to greet you on the right is a keel-billed toucan. Toucans have a lot of notable qualities, but they are likely best known for their brightly colored beaks. Though their beaks are very large, they are hollow and therefore quite lightweight. The beak is made of keratin (like our finger nails) and bone. Though the true reason for this large bill is unknown, it is thought to play a large role in courtship behavior and defense.
In addition to being stunning animals, keel-billed toucans are quite important to maintaining forests in their home range from Mexico to Venezuela and Columbia. Fruit makes up a large portion of the species’ diet. Toucans will forage over a wide range of fragmented forest. As they move from one tree to the next; they eat, digest, and disperse seeds throughout the terrain. This allows new saplings to sprout across their entire home range, securing new trees that many forest animals will one day call home!
Want to become a rainforest warrior like the keel-billed toucan? There are many actions that you can take at home to save rainforests across the world! Look for sustainable decals on the products you buy. This means the ingredients were obtained in a way that doesn’t cause further damage to the world’s forests. Consider switching to tree-free/bamboo “paper” products. Bamboo grows readily in small spaces and regenerates quickly to provide a high yield of material, as opposed to trees that take years to regrow. Reduce your carbon footprint! Combine trips out to prevent back and forth in your vehicle, seasonally turn up or down your thermostat when you aren’t at home to reduce energy use, and turn off lights/electronics when not in use. If we all do a small part, together we can make a huge difference; just like the keel-billed toucan!