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Toucan Barbet - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by steveblain
Tandayapa valley, north-western Ecuador. July 2005
Semnornis ramphastinus


Unmistakable. Strange, chunky and colourful. Total length ca. 22 cm (8½ in).


The Chocó region along the west Andes in south-western Colombia and north-western Ecuador.


Declining due to habitat destuction and trapping for cage-bird trade, but remains fairly common at several localities, e.g. Rio Ñambi in south-western Colombia and the Tandayapa and Mindo region in north-western Ecuador. Currently considered near-threatened by BirdLife International.


Two rather similar races; nominate in south and caucae in north. Exact family placement uncertain, with possibilities including New World Barbets (Capitonidae), Toucans (Ramphastidae) or a small new family, Semnornithidae, including the Toucan Barbet and the related Prong-billed Barbet.


  • S. r. caucae:
  • Western Andes of south-western Colombia (Valle to Nariño)
  • S. r. ramphastinus:
  • Andes of north-western and west-central Ecuador


Subtropical humid forest and woodland at altitudes of 1000-2400 m (3280-7880 ft).


When not feeding, rather inactive and difficult to spot despite its colourful plumage. Typically in pairs or small groups.


Largely frugivorous, with a preference for Cecropia. Also some flower, insects and, while nesting, small vertebrates (e.g. small lizards).


Breeding is during the North Hemisphere spring/summer with up to three broods per season. The nest cavity is excavated with its large bill in a dead tree.


The loud duet performed by the pair consists of a repeated, sonorous huw. Also some other calls and bill-clacking.


  1. Clements, JF. 2009. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2009. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.

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