Platebilled mountain toucan

Andigena laminirostris

TAXONOMY

Andigena laminirostris Gould, 1850. This species shares the genus Andigena with three other species of mountain toucans. The group appears to be a "link" between the saffron toucanet (Baillonius) and true toucans (Ramphastos).

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Toucan montagnard; German: Leistenschnabel-tukan; Spanish: Tucán Andino Piquilaminado.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length about 20 in (51 cm). Weight 11.1 oz (316 g) male; 10.7 oz (305 g) female. A dark olive-brown bird with slate-blue un-derparts; the dark bill has a raised, rectangular, cream-colored plate near the base; skin surrounding the eye is blue above and yellow below.

DISTRIBUTION

Comparatively small range, restricted to a band on the west slope of the Andes from southwestern Colombia through west

ern Ecuador. Thought to undergo seasonal altitudinal migration in Colombia.

HABITAT

This species occupies humid montane rainforest where bromeliads and mosses are abundant. Although usually found at 3,900-10,500 ft (1,200-3,200 m), seasonal altitudinal migration occurs and birds may be found as low as 990 ft (300 m).

BEHAVIOR

Call (equivalent of song) is nasal, whining sound that rises with each note. Often seen foraging in pairs or small groups, and sometimes accompanies mixed-species flocks. Larger flocks of a dozen or more birds form in the fall, after nestlings fledge; at this time birds in Colombia may migrate downslope in search of food.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Adult birds forage in small groups of three to six, usually up in the forest canopy; daily movements of small flocks vary depending on location of ripe fruit. At least 49 plant species produce fruits eaten by this toucan; most are in the Cecropia family and most are swallowed whole. Remsen et al. examined stomach contents of eight specimens and found only fruit; no arthropods or small vertebrates; however nestlings are fed beetles as well as birds' eggs, snails, and mice along with fruit.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding season peaks in June and July, when the weather is driest and fruit is most abundant. When a pair of toucans is ready to begin nesting, they drive away the other members of the small group with which they usually forage. Nesting pairs also sometimes evict toucan-barbets from active nests to get control of a tree cavity. The cavities selected are often in trees in the familiy Laureaceae; birds are thought to do some excavation to modify the cavity and entrance hole. Courtship-feeding occurs before copulation. Both male and female incubate the eggs and feed the young. The nestlings fledge 46-60 days after hatching but the parents continue to feed them for two or three weeks; a second clutch sometimes follows.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Near Threatened due to habit loss from intensive logging, human settlement, cattle grazing, mining, and palm cultivation. Large tracts of suitable habitat do remain, however with some areas already protected. The species may be threatened to a lesser extent by the international cage bird trade.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS A desired sighting for bird watchers. ♦

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