“On the morning of 20th Jan 09, Michelle Ooi Siew May spotted a Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) perched on the anntena of her neighbour house at Seletar Hills. The bird was spotted at 7.45am while Michelle was on her way out to work.
“Ramphastids are species of birds belonging to the order Piciformes similar to woodpeckers and barbets. They are found on the South American continent and are mainly omnivores, feeding on fruits and other animals mainly bird eggs, chicks and insects. Toco toucan are very popular in zoos and bird parks. They are the largest of the Ramphastid species. As pets they are rather rare in Singapore as most people are not too familiar with them unlike parrots or the regular song birds. Importation of Ramphastid species into S’pore is rather frequent. Between 2001-2007 the commonly traded species include Toco Toucan, White-throated toucan (R. tucanus), Keel-billed Toucan (R. sulfuratus) as well as Channel-billed Toucan (R. vitellinus). All the said species are listed on CITES Appendix II which allows international trade of the species. These birds came mostly from South American countries such as Guyana, Suriname, Nicaragua as well as Paraguay. A few odd ones came from Central African Republic, The Netherlands and even Malaysia. Numbers are usually small due to exporting countries specific annual export quotas except those which were captive bred in non-origin countries.
“Aside from the BirdPark, breeding of Ramphastid species is not impossible and success has been seen here in Singapore. However this is a very rare occurrence. Most Ramphastids are not sexually dimorphic, the sexes look almost alike so obtaining a true pair is difficult. Breeding successes are mostly based on good luck or several years of patience.”
4th February 2009
Photos courtesy of Michelle Ooi.