Chestnuteared aracari

Pteroglossus castanotis

TAXONOMY

Pteroglossus castanotis Linnaeus, 1758. This genus falls between green toucanets (Aulacorhynchus) and black toucanets (Selenidera).

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Aracari a oreillons roux; German: Braunohr-Arassari; Spanish: Arasari Orejicastano.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The smallest and most slender of the toucans; compared to others in the genus, this species is comparatively large and heavy bodied. Length about 18 in (46 cm); average weight 8.7-9.7 oz (247-275 g) males; 8.5-9.5 oz (240-271 g) females. This species is named for the chestnut "ear" patches on its black head. Plumage is typical of this genus, with a dark-green back and yellow underparts; the species is distinguished from close relatives by the single red band across its yellow belly. Bill is dark-brown to black with a yellow streak extending to the tip of the upper mandible and distinct, ivory-colored "teeth." Eye is usually white but sometimes straw yellow; skin around the eyes is blue.

DISTRIBUTION

The most widely distributed aracari, found throughout the tropics of South America, from the Colombian Amazon

Pteroglossus castanotis

I Resident through eastern Ecuador, Peru, and Boliva, western Brazil, and eastern Paraguay to northeastern Argentina.

HABITAT

This species occurs in moist lowland tropical rainforest, up to 2,950 ft (900 m) elevation, often in swamp forests or along lake and river edges; it is the most common aracari on river islands. Unlike most other toucan species, often found in open forest habitat and even gardens around homes; commonly seen at forest edges and roadsides.

BEHAVIOR

Hilty and Brown describe the call as "a sharp, inflected skeez-up." Often seen in pairs but birds also forage in small family groups of three to five. Individuals roost nightly in woodpecker holes, sometimes evicting the official occupant.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Mainly eat fruit of Cecropia, Ocotea, Ficus, and Coussapoa; will hang upside down to reach fruit. Occasionally take insects and have been documented raiding nests of yellow-rumped caciques (Cacicus cela) among others. Sometimes forage in mixed flocks with other toucan species.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Not well known. This species nests both in tree holes and in abandoned arboreal termitaria.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Sometimes hunted for meat. ♦

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