Temporal range: Early Oligocene–Recent
File:Todus todus cropped.png
Jamaican Tody (Todus todus)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Clade: Afroaves
Order: Coraciiformes
Suborder: Halcyoni
Family: Todidae
Vigors, 1825
Genus: Todus
Brisson, 1760

See text

Global range (In green)

The todies are a family, Todidae, of Caribbean birds in the order Coraciiformes, which also includes the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. The family has one genus, Todus. These are small near passerine species of forests of the Greater Antilles: Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba with adjacent islands have one species each, and Hispaniola has two, the Broad-billed Tody in the lowlands (including Gonâve Island) and the Narrow-billed Tody in the highlands.[1][2]


Todies range in weight from 5 to 7 g and in length from 10 to 11.5 cm (4 to 4.5 inches). They have colourful plumage and resemble kingfishers, with green heads, backs and wings, red throats (absent in immature Puerto Rican, Broad-billed, and Narrow-billed Todies[1]) with a white and blue-grey stripe on each side, and yellow undertail coverts; the colour of the rest of the undersides is pale and varies according to species. The irises are pale grey. They have long, flattened bills (as do many flycatching birds) with serrated edges; the upper mandible is black, the lower red with a little black. The legs and especially feet are small.[2] Todies are highly vocal, except that the Jamaican Tody seldom calls in the non-breeding season (August to November);[1] they give simple, unmusical buzzing notes, beeps, and guttural rattles, puffing their throats out with every call.[2] Their wings produce a "strange, whirring rattle", though mostly when courting or defending territory in the Puerto Rican Tody.[1]

Behaviour and ecology


They eat small prey such as insects {spiders and others} and lizards. Insects form the greater part of the diet, particularly grasshoppers and crickets, beetles, bugs, butterflies, bees, wasps and ants. Spiders and millipedes may also be taken, as is a small amount of fruit (2% of the diet).[3] Todies typically sit on a low small twig, singly or in pairs, keeping still or possibly stepping sideways like parrots or hopping sideways. When they see prey moving on the lower surface of a leaf, they fly a short distance (averaging 2.2 metres or 7 feet in the Broad-billed Tody, 1 metre or 3 feet in the Puerto Rican Tody[1]) diagonally upward to glean it. They may also take prey from the ground, occasionally chasing it with a few hops. At all times they are sedentary; the longest single flight known for the Broad-billed Tody is 40 metres (130 feet).[1][2] Their activity is greatest in the morning when sunny weather follows rain, and in March and September.[1]


Like most of the Coraciiformes, todies nest in tunnels, which they dig with their beaks and feet in steep banks[2] or rotten tree trunks.[1] The tunnel is 30 cm long in the Cuban and Narrow-billed Todies, 30 to 60 cm in the Broad-billed Tody[1] and ends in a nest chamber, generally not reused. They lay about four round white eggs in the chamber. Both parents incubate but are surprisingly inattentive. The young are altricial and stay in the nest till they can fly. Both parents also care for the nestlings, now much more attentively—indeed they may feed each chick up to 140 times per day{ very often} , the highest rate known among birds.[2]

Fossil species

A prehistoric genus, Palaeotodus, is known from fossils. The prehistoric species, dated to the early Oligocene, was discovered in France and has also been found in Germany, suggesting the family was once far more widespread than it is today.[4]

Species list


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Raffaele, Herbert; James Wiley, Orlando H. Garrido, Allan Keith, Janis I. Raffaele (1998). A Guide to the Birds of the West Indies. Princeton University Press. pp. 341–343. ISBN 0-691-08736-9. Retrieved 2008-07-02.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Fry, C. Hilary (2003). "Todies". In Perrins, Christopher (ed.). Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. p. 373. ISBN 1-55297-777-3. 
  3. ^ Kepler, A. K. (2001). "Family Todidae (Todies)". In J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 6, Mousebirds to Hornbills. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-30-X. 
  4. ^ Mayr, R. and C.F. Knopf (2007) "A Tody (Alcediniformes: Todidae) from the Early Oligocene of Germany" Auk 124 (4): 1294–1304

External links

Eurasian Spoonbill This article is part of Project Bird Genera, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each genus, including made-up genera.
Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.
Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
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