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Black-Necked Aracari

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Is the Black-Necked Aracari right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Black Neck Aracari

Scientific name: Pteroglossus aracari

The basics:
Since the Black-necked Aracari is rather rare in captivity and also in decline in its native land, this species is recommended to advanced breeders who have experience with other toucans. However, birds handled by humans from an early age do have a good reputation for an excellent personality.

There are three subspecies of the Black-necked Aracari, which ranges over moist grassland and forests in northern and northeastern South America, with one population being found as far south as southeastern Brazil. A pair on its breeding territory may have used multiple nest cavities, because the wild birds are somewhat skittish and quick to abandon an effort if they're disturbed.

Appearance:
A larger aracari with a bold, somewhat primitive look thanks to its black upperparts, two-toned bill, and yellow underparts belted with a wide red stripe.

Weight:
180 - 310 grams (6.3 - 11 oz.)

Average size:
35 - 46 centimeters (13.8 - 18.1 in.)

Lifespan:
15 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
A single Black-necked Aracari's personality really blooms if the bird is hand-fed or handled by humans from a very early age. They snuggle, purring with happiness. They can play catch, whether with a soft toy or with an edible object like a grape. They quickly learn to fly to the hand for treats and attention. Their unusual appearance, combined with their great personality, makes them extremely endearing pets.

As a breeding project for the advanced hobbyist, the Black-necked Aracari presents something of a challenge because of its skittish personality during the breeding season.

Housing:
An individual Black-necked Aracari cannot be happy unless the bird is able to leap and to fly. They can't exercise by climbing. A single pet held indoors needs a very long cage – at least six feet long. You should also have a place where it's OK for your pet to hang out with you outside the cage. Because of the frugivore's soft feces, they are not good over a carpeted area. Place plastic over the carpet, or perhaps just replace the carpet with a nice quarry tile. Have an easily cleaned play area as well as an easily cleaned cage, because pet Aracaris do want to be able to come out and play or snuggle with you.

If you are setting up a breeding aviary, be aware that the Black-necked Aracari has proven to be more challenging than some of the other species. A mixed-species aviary is not recommended, because they can become aggressive or nervous. However, these good-looking birds should show well in a large, well-planted, well-equipped walk-in tropical aviary. In the right climate, the aviary may offer some access to natural sunlight. It should also be secure against thieves, predators, rodents, and mosquitoes, and of course it should be maintained at warm, tropical temperatures.

You must provide the nesting log, since Black-necked Aracaris use woodpecker cavities – their large bill is completely ineffective for digging out their own hole from scratch.

Diet:
Like the other toucans, Black-necked Aracaris must be fed carefully to prevent the development of iron storage disease, which can cause sudden death. The backbone of the diet is fruit -- 70% papaya, 20% bananas, 5% grapes and 5% blueberries. The mix of fruit is not set in stone, and if papaya is not available, then cantaloupe can be used. Many other fruits can also be added to the mix. However, because citrus fruit may promote the storage of iron in the body, avoid oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, and other citrus. Pineapple and tomato also contain citric acid, so they should be avoided as well.

Softbill pellets should be a low iron variety developed specifically for toucans that has NO propylene glycol. Mazuri Low Iron Softbill Diet is a highly regarded pellet that fills these specifications. Insects and pinkie mice, which you will see recommended in older diets, should not be given except on advice of an expert breeder or avian vet. Fresh water should be available at all times, including a shallow pan for splashing and bathing.

Written by Elaine Radford

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