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Collared Aracari

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Is the Collared Aracari right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Banded Aracari

Scientific name: Pteroglossus torquatus

The basics:
The handsome Collared Aracari is well-regarded in American aviculture because of its willingness to breed in captivity, even in mixed-species situations. While no toucan is recommended to the raw beginner, the Collared Aracari can be a good one for the novice toucan breeder who already has some experience with softbills or other birds. They look fierce, yet they are actually gentle sweethearts who can become excellent pets or good breeders, depending on how they are handled.

There are three subspecies of the widespread Collared Aracari, a familiar forest toucan that may be seen in small groups in tropical forests ranging from southern Mexico to northern South America. Like some other aracaris, small groups can sometimes be seen drinking or actually bathing in rain water caught in leaves or various cavities in the trees.

Appearance:
The collar behind the neck is far from the first thing you notice about this species. Instead, the yellow eye against a black hood, the splotch against the yellow breast, and the well-defined red “belt” or belly band combine to give this mid-sized aracari a colorful, yet primitive appearance.

Weight:
180 - 275 grams (6.3 - 9.7 oz.)

Average size:
41 - 43 centimeters (16 - 17 in.)

Lifespan:
15 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Collared Aracari has a great reputation for being a naturally confiding bird, but their personality really blooms if they are 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.

Despite having been successfully bred in mixed-species aviaries, they are still toucans. Monitor the situation in your aviary carefully. If they do become aggressive toward others during the breeding season, you may want to have a plan B to ensure the safety of your other birds.

Housing:
An individual Collared 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.

For some ambitious, well-heeled aviculturists, the lure of the Collared Aracari is the opportunity to add this unique-looking bird to a large, well-planted, well-equipped walk-in tropical aviary. In the right climate, the aviary may offer some access to natural sunlight, but it should be secure against thieves, predators, rodents, and mosquitoes, and of course it should be maintained at warm, tropical temperatures. Offer a water feature to allow the birds to bathe.

You must provide the nesting log, since Collared Aracaris use woodpecker cavities – their large bill is completely ineffective for digging out their own hole from scratch. The territory should be large with plenty of cover, plants, and nest boxes for all species concerned. Network with other expert breeders before you add a mix of species, and know what's going on at all times in your aviary, since any breeding pair of toucans can become aggressive in season.

Diet:
Like the other toucans, Collared 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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