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Beyond a feeding and thermoregulatory structure: toucan’s bill as a sword and pincer

André de Camargo Guaraldo, Letícia Mara Ceolin Antqueves, Lilian Tonelli Manica


Toucans (Ramphastidae) have always attracted researcher's attention for their exuberant bill shape and size, which function has been often related to feeding strategies and thermal regulation. In this study, we discuss the importance and use of the bill by Ramphastidae species in intraspecific disputes. We present novel data and video recordings on agonistic encounters between females of the Spot-billed Toucan Selenidera maculirostris, along with a compilation of data from the Brazilian citizen science platform WikiAves and previous studies on six other Ramphastidae species. Until now, only a couple of species was known for using their bill in fights against conspecifics. Our study highlights the between-species behavioral similarities and the widespread occurrence of such behavior in the family, suggesting that this may be more common than previously thought and proposing hypotheses on the likely roles of such intraspecific contests.

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