Species group: Toucans
Other common names: Baillon's Toucan; Baillon's Toucanet; Banana Toucan; Banana Toucanet
Scientific name: Pteroglossus bailloni
The beautiful Saffron Toucanet is rated as “near threatened” in the wild because of illegal collecting for pets, hunting, and loss of its forest habitat. At the same time, it seems to have fallen out of fashion in aviculture, so it is vanishing from the legal captive pet market. For these reasons, the Saffron Toucanet must be recommended only to serious experts willing to provide all the necessary care involved in breeding and preserving the species for future generations.
The unique “Banana” Toucanet, as the Saffron Toucanet has occasionally been called, is different enough from the other small aracaris that it was formerly placed in its own genus, Baillonius, and you will still find information under the older name. As a forest bird of the eastern South America – including southeast Brazil, Paraguay, and northeast Argentina, it has faced some challenges. Despite the legal protections offered to wild birds in Brazil since the 1960s, there are still reports of a problem with illegal collecting of these beautiful birds for pets. Know your breeder, and do not accept birds of an unknown background. They may still be hunted as a food animal in Paraguay.
The Saffron Toucanet is one of the most beautiful of the small toucans thanks to its lovely saffron colored head and underparts. It's also easy to sex, because the females have noticeably shorter, stubbier bills than the males.
150 grams (5 oz.)
37 centimeters (14.5 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
Saffron Toucanets need to be hand-fed or handled by humans very early, or they will be somewhat bashful. They can make truly spectacular aviary birds, but you should probably house each pair in its own aviary, rather than asking them to share quarters with other species. They could experience seasonal aggression, and they could be somewhat sensitive about being teased by other birds. With the species vanishing from aviculture, it would be worthwhile to give them their own quarters to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
Saffron Toucanets are intelligent and have a long memory, so don't do anything to lose their trust. While these birds normally love to be showered by their people, a zoo bird was once accidentally hit too hard with a spray from a hose – and he never allowed the keepers to shower him again, even though his mate continued to enjoy it.
In addition to a charming purr of contentment, they also have a rather loud froglike croak that can be somewhat persistent if they feel neglected.
An individual Saffron Toucanet 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.
Serious breeders will do best if they are willing to house them in their own spacious, 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 that allow plenty of opportunities for the birds to bathe. You must provide the nesting log, since Saffron Toucanets use woodpecker cavities – their large bill is completely ineffective for digging out their own hole from scratch.
Like the other toucans, Saffron Toucanets 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
tasty food bribes, free fly indoors
A tropical beauty for a tropical aviary
I received this bird as a gift in the early 1980s, at a time when there were still legal imports of the wild birds from a limited area of South America. Today, you would likely be considering a captive-bred youngster (if you could find the species at all) so you have to bear in the mind the background of my bird before you make a fair comparison. It is very possible that a hand-fed domestic-bred bird who did not have to go through months of travel/quarantine would have a much more outgoing personality than my sweet but somewhat reserved bird did. While some imported toucanets in those days were apparently hand-fed by the locals prior to being imported, and those birds (such as Emerald Toucanets) then gained the reputation of being naturally tame, my bird gave no evidence of having ever been hand-fed or tamed.
Don't get me wrong. She was a highly intelligent bird who learned to communicate what she wanted, but she was much happier to be on her side of the aviary and to keep her people at arm's length, rather than being a cuddle bird like some of the more familiar toucanets. She was not interested in flying to my arm or hand, but she was happy to free fly indoors if she was offered some tasty food bribes in exchange. She could also take the hint to return to her flight if I put a treat or waved the shower bottle to suggest I would give her a shower. She dearly loved showers, and since she was much too timid to free fly outdoors, we build a six foot long flight on wheels that could be spun outdoors, where we could hose her off and then she could enjoy drying off in the sun. She liked attention and treats and, if she felt forgotten, she had a froggy croak to let us know that it was time for a treat or a shower or just hanging out. But, again, she was not a pet who enjoyed physical affection or petting.
Keep in mind that even though these birds are not as destructive to plants as the parrots are, they will eventually enjoy eating or destroying their green companions. All in all, despite being a smaller toucan, Saffron Toucanets are fairly expensive to keep -- expensive diet, outlay for rotating the plants in the aviary, the vet will need to be more knowledgeable than average, medicines may be special, housing will probably have to be purpose built, etc. It also seemed to me that it helped her maintain her lovely color if she had some access to natural sunlight and (maybe) the color powder helped as well. There is truly no more beautiful toucan but, considering the rarity of the species, I would have to recommend them to specialists until they are better established breeders in captivity.
I seem to have lost most of her photos in a natural disaster, but photos don't really do justice to these beautiful birds anyway. If you are looking for a smaller toucanet to save space or money over owning a larger toucan, I can't recommend this bird. They will demand plenty of space or money, just like the big boys. This is for the specialist who is looking for an exotic and beautiful toucan that stands out from the crowd with its golden plumage..
From peachfront Nov 2 2012 2:00PM