Special Sub-Topic: Toucans, Touracos, and Mynahs
|Toucans, touracos, and mynahs (among others) are collectively known by the name of "softbills." I know this means that if I pester a toucan or poke a touraco, it can't bite me hard! Right? |
No. "Softbill" refers to a group of fruit-eating birds. It's just a name, and doesn't indicate that different groups of "softbills" have any close evolutionary relationship. As to whether softbills can bite-- I have read a whole paragraph describing how toucans bite, something to the effect of "They don't have the leverage of a parrot. But they pinch, and it's the shaking side to side that really hurts." You have been warned!
|Softbills are especially vulnerable to which disease?|
Iron storage disease. In iron storage disease, aka "hemochromatosis," excess iron is stored in various body tissues, including the liver, heart, lungs, and other organs, which damages them and eventually causes the death of the bird. Iron storage disease is poorly understood, but feeding a diet low in iron seems to be a good idea.
|You could call all members of the Rhamphastid group "toucans," but you're much more sophisticated than that, I know! Which of these names is NOT a name for a subgroup of the Rhamphastidae?|
Touraco. Toucans, are, well, toucans. Toucanets are smaller toucans. Aracaris are smaller toucans with serrated edges to their beaks. Touracos are completely unrelated. Now you know. By the way, the word "toucan" comes from "toucano," the name the Tupi Indians of Brazil have given them.
|If you wanted to see a toucan in the wild, where would you want to go?|
Central and South America. Toucans live in tropical and subtropical forests. They hop about high in the trees, eating fruit, insects, and the occasional lizard. After a long day of hopping, preening, and bathing, your average toucan goes to sleep in a tree hole. "How does it fit in a tree hole with that long beak?" you ask. The toucan lays its head and beak along its back, and folds its tail up, too. How cute!
|Can toucans learn to talk?|
No. Leave talking to the parrots and mynahs. Toucans do make interesting croaking, rattling, and purring sounds, though. Some toucans like to be petted. Don't try this on any toucan you come across! See the question about toucan bites.
|Which of these should you NOT feed your toucan?|
Seeds. Toucans swallow their food whole! This can include things as large as, say, whole raspberries. A good toucan diet should include ample fruits and vegetables, as well as some sort of low iron bird pellets. As to which fruits and veggies you should feed, do not feed things that are high in citric acid. This includes citrus fruits and tomatoes. But that still leaves plenty of different kinds of fruit and veggies-- melon, squash, papaya, banana, apples, peaches, pears, squash.... Not grapes, though; they're too high in iron. Seeds are a bad idea because toucans can't digest them, and they can mess up a toucan's digestive system. Poor lil' toucan! I do not know the wisdom about feeding toucans Froot Loops, however.
|You may not have heard of touracos before. They are (mostly) green, rather stocky birds, with short, sort of conical beaks, and long, rounded tails. Touracos also have a crest, which I think is very cute. Where on Earth could you find a touraco in the wild?|
Africa. Touracos have their origin as forest birds, so they are very agile at flying through dense vegetation. Most touracos are predominantly green. The red and green pigment in their feathers is quite unique, and actually contains copper. Unsurprisingly, the pigments are called "touracin" (red) and "toucaverdin" (green.)
|Because toucans and touracos are very active, hopping from branch to branch instead of climbing around, is it a better idea to house them in a cage, or in an aviary?|
Aviary& an aviary & in an aviary. I've heard macaw cages recommended for tame toucans, but it seems even that could be a little small. Remember-- a cramped bird is not a happy bird. By the way, Aves International does not recommend that toucans be kept as pets. The current numbers of toucans in captivity are too small to easily maintain a breeding population.
|Not all mynahs were created equal. Which species of mynah is generally considered to be the best talker?|
Greater Indian Hill Mynah. Your average Greater Indian Hill Mynah resembles a black, overgrown starling, with candy corn for a beak and a yellow "wattle"-- bare skin-- around its head. Mynahs used to be imported in great numbers into the US, but with the ban on importation (clearly a good thing for all involved, in my opinion), mynahs have become fairly scarce, and can command prices of $1000 and beyond.
|Which Funtrivia quizwriter is known to call mynahs "uglybirds"? It's the obvious choice, I promise.|
Uglybird. Uglybird says, in an introduction to a Mynah pun quiz, "In Hawaii we noted peculiar looking hopping birds. Having a rather limited ornithologic knowledge base, we called them uglybirds. Later we learned they were, in fact, Mynah birds." Having a rather less limited ornithological knowledge base, I can say they were probably Common Mynahs, which were introduced to Hawaii in 1865. But perhaps that is a mynah detail?
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