Red-billed Toucan Ramphastos tucanus


Justification of Red List Category
Based on a model of deforestation in the Amazon basin, and the species's susceptibility to hunting, it is suspected that its population is declining rapidly over three generations, and it has therefore been classified as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'common' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 26.8-40.9% of of its extent of suitable habitat in the Amazonian portion of its range over 35 years, as projected after 2002 using a model of forest loss in the Amazon basin (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). By taking the pessimistic (business as usual) scenario of forest loss and factoring in the species’s susceptibility to hunting, fragmentation and edge-effects (following Bird et al. 2011), it is suspected to decline by 38.6% over three generations from 2002.

Distribution and population

Ramphastos tucanus has a wide from eastern Venezuela through Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, east of the Rio Negro in northeast Brazil and also south of the Amazon in northern Pará and Maranhão states.


Lowland tropical forest, especially old riverbeds, late stage successional forest, and mature forest near water. Also forages in secondary forest, edges, clearings, forest patches, pasture trees, plantations, gardens, mangroves etc; to 1,440 m in Guyana (del Hoyo et al. 2002, Short et al. 2014). Feeds on a diverse variety of fruits, also flowers and nectar, beetles, caterpillars, cicadas, termites, lizards, bird eggs and birds, foraging in the canopy singly, in pairs or small groups (del Hoyo et al. 2002). Lays two-three eggs in a deep natural cavity in a tree at 3-20 m height. The home range of a group is large, and birds may move large distances in search of fruit (del Hoyo et al. 2002).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon basin as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is also declining as a result of hunting pressure (del Hoyo et al. 2002). Proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code reduce the percentage of land a private landowner is legally required to maintain as forest (including, critically, a reduction in the width of forest buffers alongside perennial steams) and include an amnesty for landowners who deforested before July 2008 (who would subsequently be absolved of the need to reforest illegally cleared land) (Bird et al. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions underway
It is found in several large protected areas, including the 30,000 km2 Canaima National Park in Venezuela and 16,000 km2 Central Suriname Nature Reserve (Short et al. 2014).

Conservation and research actions proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.


Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Sharpe, C J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Ramphastos tucanus. Downloaded from on 18/10/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 18/10/2019.