Family Toucans (Ramphastidae)


Channel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus)


French: Toucan vitellin German: Dotterkehltukan Spanish: Tucán vitelino

Ramphastos vitellinus

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,



Molecular data indicate that R. brevis is sister of present species#R. Both belong to the so-called “croaking group” of toucans (see R. toco), along with three species usually considered conspecific with it, namely R. citreolaemus, R. culminatus and R. ariel, because of extensive hybrid populations which render it difficult to draw strict boundaries separating forms geographically. Nevertheless, irrespective of degree of hybridization (which in any case would here add to scores), present species (with R. ariel) is strongly distinct from R. citreolaemus (with R. culminatus) on account of its red vs yellow rump (3), orange vs white or lemon breast (2), broad vs narrow red bellyband (2), and shorter bill with black vs yellow or yellow-green culmen (3); it is strongly distinct from R. ariel by virtue of characters indicated under that species (see below). Previously described forms berliozi (R Negro, in N Brazil) and osculans (upper R Negro) are crosses between vitellinus and culminatus. Monotypic.


Trinidad, and E Venezuela, the Guianas, and NE Brazil N of Amazon; introduced on Grenada.

Descriptive notes

46–56 cm; 285–455 g, female averages 10–25 g less than male. Black above and on belly, with pale throat and breast, brightly coloured uppertail-coverts, red... read more


Song, disyllabic, of noisy and clear elements mixed variously, “kee-ark” to “... read more


Forested lowlands, most commonly near water, forest edge, also swamp-forest, forest clearings,... read more

Food and feeding

Palm “nuts”, figs, other fruits; also insects, spiders, other arthropods, lizards and other small vertebrates, probably frogs,... read more


Season Nov–Jul in Venezuela; extends into Aug–Sept, even to Nov, in the Guianas; at least Oct–Dec around Belém,... read more


Some movement suggested, not well known; rarely erupts in large numbers, though see comments under... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. CITES II. Fairly common in tall, humid forest throughout its range, but suspected to be declining. Main threats are subsistence hunting and habitat loss through... read more

Recommended citation

Short, L.L., de Juana, E., Sharpe, C.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Channel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 November 2019).