One of the most peculiar questions that I receive in reference to our Three-Cans is “do they have personalities?”. As a self-confessed Anthropomorphizing Queen and lover of all animals big & small, to me, this question borders on ridiculous. When I think of all the animals I have had the pleasure of interacting with in my life, both wild and domesticated, I have trouble coming up with one that didn’t have an individual personality. But, in an effort to understand where this question is stemming from, I just assume that these people haven’t had many interactions with birds in their lives and have more difficulty seeing the spirit that lies beneath those avian eyes, which are so much different than those of a dog or cat.
Our toucans are in fact, brimming with personality, each very different from one another. They do have similar traits and behaviors, as they are a part of the same species, but when it comes to their emotions and general disposition, they are quite unique. So in an effort to share with you the essence of what makes our birds the interesting individuals that they are, I have decided to do a special profile on each of our toucans’ personalities. Today, Paco (formerly named Paz – see Gender Mysteries) snags the honor of being the first to be vindicated from personality obscurity.
Nicknames: Paco Taco, Mr. Monkey, Lover Boy
Likes: attention, watching Morgan the Cat chase lizards, long baths, sunbathing, destroying anything destructible, my training clicker
Dislikes: anyone else but me entering his cage, mosquitoes
Watch Paco set out to destroy his newest birdhouse toy:
Paco has definitely bonded with me the most so far. Paz and Pepe tend to interact more with each other through their cages, but Paco is always on the lookout for me – his favorite member of the flock. The toucans can see the door to our house from their house and I will often look out the window to find Paco watching our door for me to emerge, similar to the faithful waiting of loyal companion dogs. As soon as I exit our door, he will begin excitedly hopping back and forth, never taking his eyes off of me, in the hopes that I am coming to play. For more on how our relationship has developed since the beginning, you can see this past post.
While I do understand that animals have much different emotions and thought processes than we humans do, I disagree when people over-simplify what they think animals can feel and understand. I find this is most certainly the case with Paco, as he has a much deeper soul than most would give him credit for. He is a very emotional bird who does get his feelings hurt when he feels betrayed and gets frustrated when things don’t go his way. I have made the mistake before of asking too much of him during a training session when all he wanted to do was play and I can almost see his eyes drop as he hops away, turns his back to me, and sulks. I have also learned that I cannot just “hang out” outside the toucan enclosure, as he wants to be by my side, whether we are inside or outside together does not matter. In these instances, he has flown to his door and fiddles with the latch in hopes that he can somehow open it. When I do come in later, he has an urgent, edgy sense to his behavior as he tries to quell his fury now that he has finally gotten what he desires.
Paco is incredibly curious and full of playful energy. If I was available to sit in his cage with an endless supply of interesting toys, I imagine he would not leave my side for all the daylight hours. When Paco comes outside, the best way we describe him is an “ADD 2yr old” – excited, hyper, easily distracted, and desiring to touch everything. This certainly makes him a bit more challenging to have loose, but we do our best to “Paco-proof” the situation before he enters it.
While all of our toucans enjoy the feel of sunshine on their feathers, Paco is our biggest sun worshipper, chasing it around his cage to bask in it every opportunity he gets. If he didn’t have feathers covering that body of his, let’s just say he’d likely be brown and leathery, a la George Hamilton (but more natural and you know, cuter).
If you’re trying to tell Paco apart amongst our Three-Cans, the easiest way visually is that he is one of the smaller two, but with the curved beak (Pepe’s is flat & blocky). He is also generally the most vocal, purring in response whenever he is spoken to. But for me mostly, it’s all in the eyes and the loving, emotional spirit that I find impossible to resist.
Curious about Paz and Pepe? They will each be getting a personality feature soon too, so stay tuned!