Family Toucans (Ramphastidae)

Near Threatened

Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)


French: Toucan tocard German: Goldkehltukan Spanish: Tucán pechigualdo
Other common names: Swainson's Toucan (swainsonii)

Ramphastos ambiguus


, 1823,

no locality = Buenavista, Colombia


Fairly close relative of R. tucanus and R. cuvieri, these three constituting the so-called “yelping group” of toucans. Long considered to include R. brevis as race, but they are now generally accepted as distinct species, with different vocalizations. Race swainsonii often treated as a distinct species, but resembles nominate in behaviour, voice and morphology (they apparently interbred in former contact zone in lower Cauca Valley, in Colombia); moreover, smaller race abbreviatus seems to represent an intermediate form, having bill like that of nominate but facial skin like that of swainsonii; species treatment of swainsonii presumably based largely on its sympatry with R. brevis when latter thought to belong within present species. Other described forms include innominatus from Colombia, a synonym of nominate ambiguus, and tocard and tocardus, which are synonyms of swainsonii. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. a. swainsonii Gould, 1833 – Chestnut-mandibled Toucan – SE Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica S to W Colombia (E to Cauca Valley, formerly middle Magdalena Valley) and S along W Andes to SW Ecuador (El Oro).
  • R. a. abbreviatus Cabanis, 1862 – NE Colombia (W slope of E Andes S to Cundinamarca) and NW & N Venezuela (E in mountains to Miranda).
  • R. a. ambiguus Swainson, 1823 – Black-mandibled Toucan – SW Colombia (from upper R Magdalena) S along E Andean slopes to SC Peru (Junín).
  • Descriptive notes

    53–56 cm; 599–746 g. Large, mainly black toucan with maroon tips of crown to upper back feathers, less so on wings and below; creamy uppertail-coverts, red... read more


    Yelping phrases, repeated at length, first note longer and double, others shorter, often... read more


    Forest in lowlands and lower mountain slopes, cloudforest, forest patches, edges, old secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly fruits, such as species of Beilschmiedia, Caesearia, Cecropia, Didymopanax, Faramea,... read more


    Dec–Jul in all areas. Sings from conspicuous perch, all year, singer raises head high, gradually lowers head and bill with notes, in... read more


    Moves up and down slopes in search of fruiting trees, possibly moves extensively into adjacent... read more

    Status and conservation

    NEAR THREATENED. Much more common in Central America (swainsonii) than in South America, where generally uncommon. Common in on the Atlantic slope of Nicaragua and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus). 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 28 February 2020).