Toucans protect themselves in a number of ways. They primarily use their vocalization and their large bills as deterrents to predators, such as jaguars and large birds of prey.
The natural predators of toucans include jaguars, boas and other snakes, eagles, hawks and owls. Smaller predators typically go for toucan eggs rather than the adult toucans. Toucans live in flocks of about six. They can be very loud and vocal and use this to deter potential predators and to warn other toucans, giving them time to escape. Toucans have been observed smacking their bills against tree branches to scare off approaching predators. The sheer size of the bills can sometimes be enough to scare away threats. Another physical characteristic that aids in their defense is the fact that toucans are zygodactylous. This means they have two toes in the front and two toes facing backward, providing them the strength and stability to grip and move quickly through dense trees.
There are about 40 species of toucans, and they are known for their oversized and colorful bills. The bills on some species can grow to nearly 8 inches long. Despite their size, the bills are very porous and light, so they are useless as defense mechanisms. Toucans are arboreal, meaning they are tree dwellers and can transition from resting in a tree to flying very quickly.