We spend a lot of time with Paco, Paz, & Pepe each day, probably more than is absolutely necessary, but we do so for a number of reasons:
- They are adult, adopted birds which require more time and effort to build trust and form a bond with than a baby bird
- They live outdoors and not in our living space, so we have to make an effort to spend time in their presence
- Toucans are very social, high energy birds that require a lot of stimulation and interaction to be happy
- We have three toucans and always try to fairly divide our time evenly with them – that means that each activity must be multiplied by 3.
- We strive to build a strong, trustworthy relationship with them, in hopes of being able to take them outside their cages more often in the future – this can only come with time and training
So while a portion of the time we spend with our Three-Cans is taking care of their physical needs (food, cleanliness, etc.), we also allot extra time for relationship-building, which we consider just as important.
Here is a sample of what a typical day in Toucanland looks like:
6 am or Sunrise – Time to raise the shades on the Toucan House to wake the birds who are ready to greet the day. This is one of my personal favorites – no coffee in the world is as sweet as the excited purrs of a Toco who is forever happy to see you.
8 am – We start with the first training session of the day, the one the birds are most excited for – grapes and blueberries make for excellent motivation when they haven’t yet had their bowl of fruit for the morning (mwahaha…). Then, it’s cleaning time! We hose out the cages daily, scrub them down once per week, and clean out their water pans and bathing bowls, providing fresh water for the day.
9 am – Now for the delicious part of the program – food preparation time. We chop fruit bowls for the day’s two feedings, storing one portion for the afternoon. Then we provide both fresh fruit and pellets to our waiting Hungry, Hungry Hippos. The last part of the morning is by far the most anticipated by the monkeys – toys! We change out their toys every other day (refresh/fix them daily) and either rotate them between the birds or go back to the drawing board to create new toys if they’ve already made the rounds.
12 noon – Here we do a short, midday bonding activity to provide stimulation for the Three-Cans such as sharing a piece of fruit or bringing in something interesting for the birds to see. We also refill their water pans if baths have been taken and fix any toys that have been dismantled to re-inspire them to destroy them with glee all over again.
2 pm – This training session generally tends to be “hit or miss”, depending on if we caught them napping or if they’re full of energy. Afterwards, we exchange their fruit bowls – the toucans’ bowls are emptied of any am leftovers, cleaned, and refreshed with fresh fruit for the afternoon.
4:30 pm – Here, we spend time for a more lengthy bonding activity such as the Bag of Wonder. This also tends to be an hour with more tourists wandering around, so we find ourselves also answering questions about the Three-Cans. I have also started to socialize the toucans by selecting a person each day, if possible, to come into the enclosure and provide the birds with a treat.
5:30 pm – As the birds wind down after playtime, their fruit bowls are removed and cleaned, leaving their pellet bowl in for the night so they have food available when they wake.
5:45pm or Sunset – As the sky darkens, the toucans hop up to their highest perches and flip up their tails, indicating that they are ready for bed. We lower their shades and the toucans tuck themselves in for a restful night of birdie dreaming.
This is just a sampling of a typical day – the timing of activities can vary. We try not to be to regimented in our scheduling so that in the event there is a change to the schedule, it is not too distressing for the birds. While this may sound like a lot (and it is), we enjoy the time we spend with the birds and are lucky to have each other to share the responsibilities. So if you’re ever trying to reach us, you now know that your odds are good to first look in Toucanland.