The Puerto Rican Tody is a tody endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico. Despite is scientific name, Todus mexicanus, it is endemic to Puerto Rico. It is commonly known in the island as "San Pedrito" ("Little Saint Peter").
The Puerto Rican Tody can be described as having green feathers with a yellow flanks, a bright yellow almost white belly, a red throat and lower mandible and a long beak. It is a very small bird and is the smallest representative of the order Coraciiformes. This tody measures on average 11cm and weighs from 5 to 6 grams. Males and females can be distinguished by the coloration of their eyes. Males have grey eyes while females have white eyes.
Todies are hard to spot visually but are easily identifiable by the loud nasal beep they make.
The Puerto Rican Tody can be found throughout the main island of Puerto Rico. It predominates in forested areas, specially in high altitude damp forests where insect concentrations are higher. It also can be found in forests with dense thickets and vines in the south region of the island.
The Puerto Rican Tody is an insectivourous bird although it has been observed supplementing its hatchlings diet with fruits from the Clusia krugiana tree . It eats katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, earwigs, dragonflies, flies (Diptera), and beetles (Coleoptera), 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 bill which it has the habit of tilting towards the sky. Once it find its prey it will suddenly take flight, grab the insect and sit on another perch.
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.
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 remain fully active, respond to stimuli and take flight.
Wikispecies has information related to:
- List of endemic fauna of Puerto Rico
- List of Puerto Rican birds