Toucan vs Parrot | Differences, and Similarities – Are they Related?

Toucans and parrots might look related to each other, given the slight similarities in their appearances, but this couldn’t be farther than the truth. 

Not only do these two birds belong to two entirely different species of birds, but they also have distinct qualities that set them apart from each other.

Biological comparison between toucans and parrots

Biologically, it is quite easy to compare the two birds based on the following points:

Basis of comparisonToucansParrots
FamilyToucans are a part of a bird family named RamphastidaeParrots are classified into three superfamilies, namely Psittacidae (also known as “true” parrots), Cacatuidae (the cockatoos), and Strigopoidea (the New Zealand Parrots).
OriginToucans are known to be native to neotropical countries like Southern Mexico, Central America as well as some parts of Argentina. Parrots are believed to have evolved in Australasia. However, several species of parrots are known to have evolved in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and even some parts of America.
SizeOn average, a toucan can weigh slightly less than two pounds. The average height of a toucan ranges from 11 inches to 25 inches.On average, a parrot weighs slightly less than four pounds. The average height of a parrot ranges from 4 inches to 40 inches. 
AppearanceToucans are most popular for their huge beaks. While there are types of toucans with colored feathers on their body, most toucans’ bodies have thick, dark-colored feathers, while their necks and chests are covered in lighter-colored feathers. The most striking color stays on their big beaks, making them the main point of appearance for toucans. The most obvious point of distinction between a toucan and a parrot is that parrots sport beaks that are way smaller in size. Even though there are wide varieties of parrots all around the world, the majority of the parrots have bright-colored feathers on their bodies. 
LifespanToucans, on average, can live up to 20-25 years.Parrots, on average, can live up to 50 years. However, it has been reported that some species of parrots can live for more than 80 years.
Number of speciesToucans are believed to have at least 40 different types of species.Parrots are believed to have up to 400 different types of species.

Similarities between toucans and parrots

These two completely different species share some similarities as well. Here are some of them:

  1. Colorful feathers

Both toucans and parrots are known to have bright and strikingly colorful plumage. The majority of parrots sport colorful feathers on their bodies, as do some species of toucans. 

  1. Intelligence

Toucans and parrots are considered some of the most intelligent birds. They are attentive, easy to train, and tend to easily learn how to carry out entertaining tricks and performances.

  1. Social butterflies

These two birds tend to be social butterflies. This means they enjoy interacting with each other and also with humans. They are playful and love to stay in groups as well.

  1. Can be kept as pets

Both toucans and parrots make excellent pets and are widely used as such. They are easy to befriend and can learn to return to their owners’ homes after flights.

Toucans VS Parrots – Which one is a better pet?

Toucans and parrots are quite different as pets, despite having some similarities in nature. Here are some of the reasons why:

Noisiness Toucans are much less noisy as compared to parrots. They are rarely loud and often stay quiet.Parrots are notorious for being loud, chirpy, and noisy. These friendly birds can be loud enough for their voice to reach every corner of the house.
TemperamentToucans are considered to be much gentler as compared to parrots. While they can certainly bite, their bites are less harmful compared to parrots.Parrots tend to be more playful and energetic, and can also get slightly aggressive at times. Also, their bites can be strong enough to break a person’s finger.
CleanlinessWhile both parrots and toucans can be considered careless about cleanliness, toucans are considered to be more careless than parrots. This is mainly because they tend to spill a lot while eating. Parrots also spill while eating, but they are not as messy as the toucans and are relatively easier to maintain.
IntelligenceWhile both these birds are considered intelligent, toucans lag behind the parrots in this category to an extent.Parrots are considered to be highly intelligent as it is very easy for them to learn phrases, tricks, and patterns as compared to toucans.
The need for spaceToucans need more space than parrots.Parrots need relatively less space as compared to toucans.

Food habits of toucans and parrots

Toucans and parrots have similar food habits. Both of these birds are omnivores. 

This means they eat a plant-based diet just as well as a meat-based diet. However, there are certain distinctions:

Diet of a parrot:

Parrots are known to eat seeds very well, owing to the strength of their jaws. However, seeds alone do not provide enough nutrition to them. 

Their diet should also include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and certain insects and mealworms. 

Diet of a toucan:

Toucans are known to eat fruits. However, they are also able to consume insects, rodents, and even other smaller birds. They are also known to be able to eat lizards.

How much do toucans and parrots cost?

When it comes to parrots, their cost can vary from a few hundred US dollars to a few thousand  US dollars depending on their species and availability. 

There are also some species of parrots that are sold for less than a hundred US dollars.

Toucans are way more expensive to acquire than parrots. Some states in the US do not allow toucans to be kept as pets. 

For those states that do allow it, depending on the availability of these birds, the cost of owning a toucan can easily be more than 5 to 10 times the cost of owning a parrot.

Adaptation and survival of toucans and parrots

The adaptations that allow toucans and parrots to survive better are mentioned below:


  1. Beak

A toucan’s beak, though large, is extremely useful to grab food. Their beaks can also be used in defense while fighting a predator. Toucans can also use their beaks to control or adjust their body temperatures. 

  1. Feet

Toucans are not known to fly well. They use their feet more often than their wings. The muscles in their feet and toes are strong enough to help them get to their destination. They have four toes – two of which face forward and two faces backward.

  1. Plumage

Toucans use the color of their plumage to hide in their surroundings during an attack by a predator.

  1. Eyesight

Toucans, especially keel-billed toucans, can see extremely well which helps them identify and spot predators from a distance. This not only helps them rescue themselves, but also helps them spot food easily in the wild. 


  1. Flight

Parrots are known to be good flyers and benefit greatly from this ability while rescuing themselves from predators. Their wings are strong enough to help them fly quickly on instinct.

  1. Thick beak and strong jaw

Parrots’ jaws are known to be strong enough to break small bones. This not only helps them in defending themselves but also helps them eat a variety of seeds and nuts.

  1. Feet

Like toucans, parrots have four toes on their feet – two facing forward, and two facing backward. This helps them in holding on to slippery branches with ease.

  1. Eyesight

Parrots have excellent eyesight. Their eyesight is known to be even better than that of humans. They can see ultraviolet light which helps them in differentiating between one another. 

Climatic needs of toucans and parrots

The climatic needs and habitats of toucans and parrots are quite different from each other.

While toucans thrive in tropical lowlands and rainforests, parrots can easily make a home in warmer climates. 

Over time, parrots have found a place for themselves in almost every country. However, they are best raised in warmer climates, as they can’t tolerate extremely cold weather very well.

Breeding tips for toucans and parrots

Basis ToucansParrots
Size of aviary While naturally made nests are more suitable for toucans, they are mostly bred in aviaries when kept in captivity. These aviaries need to be large enough to accommodate the pair, as toucans generally require more space to live. Ideal size: 12 ft by 12 ft by 8 ft.Considering the wide varieties of parrots, it’s suggested that their aviaries be made big enough to provide a good amount of leeway. Ideal size: 10 ft by 3.5 ft by 7 ft
Nest logsNest logs for toucans are usually made out of hollowed tree trunks and that is what is generally preferred for them.Nest boxes should be deep enough for the parrots and also conceal them from light, as this provides more security to them. Usually, L-shaped boxes are preferred for parrots.
CompatibilityCompatibility is extremely important between the two birds, as toucans are known to be monogamous. Both male and female toucans have very slight differences when it comes to appearance. However, when they mate, they mate for life.Colony breeding can allow parrots to choose their mates based on compatibility. Hence, this method is often used widely. 
Diet for chicksBaby toucans are fed soft, and easy-to-digest foods – like fruits, especially berries.The nutrient requirements of chicks must be given a priority, and their food should be different that the parents. Ideally, it should consist of soaked seeds, cooked eggs, and soaked corn – basically foods that are easy to digest.

While toucans and parrots look like they would belong to the same bird family, these vastly different birds have their distinct ways of being. 

Charming in completely different ways, both types of birds require care and attention while being raised – especially in captivity. The way they have been raised dictates their habits in life.

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds