Toco toucans, like most all birds (and humans for that matter), need their rest in order to properly function and live a healthy, happy life. Most avian experts agree that parrots need at least 8 – 12 hours of quality rest time each night and I believe toucans are no different. Without the proper amount of sleep, birds are known to become grumpy and even begin to exhibit behavioral problems. And with as much energy as the toucans expend throughout the day, it’s no wonder they require their shuteye – they need to recharge that Energizer battery!
Watch Pepe take a little toucan nap: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TOsR7Hl7RY
Our toucans sleep once the sun sets and wake with the sunrise. We don’t have much of a seasonal change in daylight hours here in the Caribbean, so pretty much year-round they will get at least 12 hours of darkness for rest. It shocked me at first that the birds would sleep for such an extended time mostly due to the fact that they are so active all day and tend to eat every 15 minutes. It seemed hard to believe that they would really go 12 hours with no activity or food. But I’ve checked several times throughout the nights and early mornings and no matter what – those monkeys are down for the count!
In the wild, Toco toucans generally sleep in hollowed out tree trunks, which seems to explain the odd position they doze in. While sleeping, I often refer to them as “my little balls of toucan” because they compact themselves in such a way it’s almost hard to recognize their waking form. The tail, normally lowered down, flips up rigidly to look like a fan, exposing more of their brilliant crimson tail feathers. Then the toucans fluff up their body, turn their head around, and rest their beak on their back between their puffy feathers. How sleeping with your head turned around is comfortable, I will never know – but it is quite a sight to see.
Paco, Paz, & Pepe all sleep on their highest perches, no doubt the “safest” place in their mind to tuck in for the night. It’s quite funny because for seemingly no reason (at least to my uninformed human brain), they all perch on the same side of their cages and all perch facing the same Southern direction. When they’re ready for bedtime, they all hop up onto their sleeping perches and pop their tails up. With the three of them posing firmly in a row, it has the comical look of an army formation that is reporting for duty. Ready for bedtime, Sir!
Putting the toucans to bed at night is an endearing activity. Living so close to the equator, our sunsets, while spectacular, are actually pretty quick – it goes from light to dark in a very short time span. As the sun fades, the birds start winding down for the day and all come down to eat their last bites of food before their nightime fast. We have shades that cover 3 sides of their enclosure that we lower at night to help them feel secure and protect them from any nighttime weather. Once we say “night-night” and begin the process of rolling down the shades, like good little kiddies, they give a final yawn, hop up top, and flip that tail.
If a good night’s sleep is truly “beauty rest”, then it makes perfect sense how long the toucans sleep. Anything as beautiful as a Toco must be impossible to achieve otherwise.