Coraciiformes TAG

Coraciiformes Taxon Advisory Group -

Broad-billed Tody (Todus subulatus)
SSP Manager: Not a TAG Recommended Species

General Information

The Broad-billed Tody is a typical tody: a small, short-tailed, chunky bird with bright colors and a long, flattened bill. It is found on Hispaniola, which is the only island on which more than a single species of tody occurs: the Narrow-billed Tody (Todus angustirostris) tends to occur at higher elevations on the island, above 700 m, while the lowlands of Hispaniola are occupied by the Broad-billed Tody. The two species are similar in plumage - bright green above, with a red throat and paler underparts - but the Broad-billed Tody is washed with yellow on the breast, and mandible is entirely red (lacking the dusky tip on the mandible of Narrow-billed). The two species also have different vocalizations, and different foraging behaviors: the Broad-billed Tody consistently forages higher above the ground than does the Narrow-billed Tody.


The Broad-Billed Tody is the largest of all five tody species and is more stout than the Narrow-billed Tody. The bill is approximately twice the width of the Narrow-billed Tody.

Adult: Sexes similar. Upperparts plain bright green. Malars dull white, becoming gray posteriorly. Chin dull white. Throat geranium red; the throat feathers are narrowly tipped with white. Lower neck dull white. Breast and belly whitish or pale sulphur yellow, the breast usually with a pale yellowish gray wash, sometimes also tinged with pink. Flanks geranium pink. Undertail coverts bright sulphur yellow. Axillars and underwing coverts light sulphur yellow.

"Young:" Upperparts as in adult. Malar grayish buff or dull yellowish buff. Chin grayish. Throat pale yellowish buff, slightly tinged with red. Remaining underparts yellowish white, breast broadly streaked with dusky gray. Undertail coverts more yellowish, tinged with green.


The IUCN/Red List conservation status of the Broad-billed Tody is assessed as of Least Concern, due to its relatively wide geographic distribution and large population size (BirdLife International 2011) . Although the global population size and the overall population trend have not been quantified, the population is believed to be in decline, due to ongoing habitat loss (BirdLife International 2011).


Resident on Hispaniola. Primarily occurs at lower elevations, up to 1700 meters.


The species primarily exists in open scrub and semi-deserts of lower elevations primarily on the Dominican Republic rather than Haiti. Occurs in virgin and second-growth forests, including pine, as well as scrub, shade coffee plantations, and some mangroves. It can occur locally at in mixed-species flocks with the Narrow-billed Tody.




Broad-billed Todies (like all todies) are seasonally monogamous, one individual from each sex mates during one season. Typically only one clutch is laid per season, although multiple matings and clutches per pair have been observed (Kepler 1977). The courtship and courtship displays of the Broad-billed Tody are like the rest of the todies and other Coraciiformes, the use of aerial flights and tumbles without distinctive vocalizations. Wing rattling appears to be a “unique” trait to tody courtship and has been suggested to resemble some of the manakin (Pipridae) species.

All tody species nest by using excavated burrows in embankments (typical nesting strategy for most Coraciiformes). The average nest dimensions for the Broad-billed Tody is 3.7 cm wide by 4.0 cm high. The depth of the burrow is 30 to 60 cm in the Broad-billed Tody. The bank height where the burrows are excavated is approximately 1.5 m. Both male and females of the species (including all tody species) dig the burrow and usually begin as early as September, with excavation continuing through June. They vigorously defend the burrow from any trespassers (humans and mongooses included).

Eggs: Tody eggs are the smallest of all the Coraciiformes (considered roughly the size of wren eggs). The typical size of a Broad-billed Tody egg is 15.9-18 mm by 13.3-15 wide. The eggs are white and unmarked, but with a distinct gloss, and often pick up reddish dirt stain. Clutch size for this species (and all tody species) is one to four eggs, usually laid between April and July. Incubation for this species is approximately 2-3 weeks, depending on the season, with both sexes developing brood patches and jointly incubating the eggs (the female has a larger proportion of the incubating times). The nestling period is also approximately 2-3 weeks long, after that the young fledge and the nesting pair separates.


The primary food eaten by this species is insect.