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This pretty toucan uses its large beak to grab fruit.
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Courtesy of Corel Photography

Tropical Rain Forest Birds

The birds of the rain forest are the most beautiful in the world. A wide range of colors can be seen darting through the trees as the forest tops come to life. Many species of tropical birds are kept as pets because of their looks.

Hundreds of species of parrot live in the rain forest. The scarlet macaw is just one of these. It is also one of the longest, stretching to a length of 3 feet from its head to the tip of its tail. When these macaws eat a poisonous fruit, they eat a special type of clay that neutralizes the poison.

Toucans are also very interesting birds. They have large beaks that they use to reach fruit they can't get to. Scientists estimate there are 33 species of toucan in the rain forest.

Not every tropical bird was blessed with looks. The hoatzin looks more like a peacock without the pretty tail. Hoatzins are terrible flyers - crash landings are common practice! The brown kiwi is a flightless bird that looks more like a rodent with a long beak and feathers. Kiwis live on the ground instead of the trees. They have special claws used for running, digging and defense.

Last modified September 2, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA