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Puerto Rican Tody
93-puerto-rican-tody-todus-mexicanus-by-judd-patterson
Information
Common Name "San Pedrito" ("Little Saint Peter")
Range Puerto Rico
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Coraciiformes
Family Todidae
Genus Todus
Species Todus mexicanus
Conservation Status
LCSpecies
Least Concern

The Puerto Rican tody is a species of tody endemic to Puerto Rico. Despite is scientific name, Todus mexicanus, it is endemic to Puerto Rico. It is commonly known locally as "San Pedrito" ("Little Saint Peter").

Description

The Puerto Rican tody is green with yellow flanks, a bright yellowish-white belly, a red throat and lower mandible, and a long beak. It is the smallest representative of the order Coraciiformes, with an average body length of 11 cm and weight of 5 to 6 g. Males and females can be distinguished by the coloration of their eyes; males have gray eyes whereas females' eyes are white.

Todies are hard to spot but are easily identifiable by the loud, nasal "beep" they make. Also known as papagayo, they make their nests on the faces of steep, cut ground (e.g., in road cuts created during road construction) or hillsides. They are active in the diurnally and mostly frequent forested habitats.

Habitat

The Puerto Rican tody can be found throughout the main island of Puerto Rico. It is found predominantly in forested areas, especially in high-altitude damp forests where insect concentrations are higher, as well as in the dense forests in the southern region of the island.

Diet

The Puerto Rican tody is a primarily insectivourous bird, although it has been observed supplementing its hatchling's diet with fruits from Clusia krugiana. It eats katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, earwigs, dragonflies, flies, and beetles, as well as spiders, and occasional small lizards. Todies are considered voracious eaters.

Todies sit quietly on high perches and scan the surface below with fast, jerky motions of its head, often tilting its bill towards upwards. Once it find its prey, it will suddenly take flight, grab the insect, and land on another perch.

Reproduction

The Puerto Rican tody has an unusual nesting technique. The male and female todies excavate a long, narrow burrow in an earth bank ranging from 25 to 35 cm in length. They create their nest at the end of this burrow. This process occurs from February to June, before the start of the wet season. Females then lay from 1 to 4 bright white eggs, with an average of 2.3 eggs. Both the male and the female incubate the eggs. The incubation period has an average of 21 days. Other adult todies may assist in the development process of the chicks.

Unique Features

The Puerto Rican tody has been researched extensively because of its unusual body temperature, body temperature control and temperature control abilities. Puerto Rican Todies exhibit lower body temperatures than other todies and have also exhibited heterothermy over a range of temperatures. Most coraciiformes have a body temperature of 40 °C, but Puerto Rican Todies can maintain a body temperature of 36.7 °C. This allows them to spend 33% less energy than other coraciiformes. Puerto Rican todies can lower their body temperatures by 14 °C and can remain fully active, respond to stimuli and take flight.

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