Highly social and intelligent, the keel-billed toucan has a colorful beak (light green with hints of sky blue, orange and brownish red on the tips) and its striking appearance has made it popular at zoos. The keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize, where it is commonly seen outside of restaurants asking for handouts.
Keel-billed toucans are one of the largest and most vocal of the toucan species. Their croak-like calls can be heard from about half a mile away. Although their beaks look imposing, they are hollow and lightweight. The actual function of their beaks is not fully known, though it seems to help the birds pluck fruit off of branches too small to bear the birds’ weight. As a pet, keel-billed toucans are friendly, playful and inquisitive, and they love to learn and perform tricks.
Keel-billed toucans are highly active and need plenty of space to both fly and play; their cages should also have enough toys for entertainment. Their diet consists primarily of fruit in the wild, and the same should be replicated in captivity. Because citric acid facilitates the absorption of iron, it is recommended not to give this species any citric fruits. In addition to a wide variety of fruits, their diet should be supplemented with a low-iron protein source.
“The keel bill has enjoyed great popularity as both a zoo bird and as a pet, because of its colorful bill. It is an intelligent bird, and easily trained.”
Jerry Jennings, Emerald Forest Bird Gardens