Reginald B Davis
Gouache on Board
14" x 19" (360mm x 475mm)
Signed by Artist bottom right
This is the Signed original Gouache painting by Reginald B Davis.
Big-beaked Birds. The colourful, giant bill, which in some large species measure more than half the length of the body, is the hallmark of toucans. Despite its size it is very light, being composed of bone struts filled with spongy tissue of keratin between them. The bill has forward-facing serrations resembling teeth, which historically led naturalists to believe that toucans captured fish and were primarily carnivorous; today it is known that they eat mostly fruit.
Researchers have discovered that the large bill of the toucan is a highly efficient thermoregulation system, though its size may still be advantageous in other ways. It does aid their feeding (as they can sit in one spot and reach for all fruit in range, thereby reducing energy expenditure), and it has also been theorised that the bill may intimidate smaller birds, so that the toucan may plunder nests undisturbed.
The beak also allows the bird to reach deep into tree holes to access food unavailable to other birds, and also to depredate suspended nests built by smaller birds. However, as there is no sexual dimorphism in coloration it is unlikely to be a sexual signal. This is the original artwork for illustration on p25 of Treasure issue no 389.
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