The impressive and beautiful keel-billed toucan. Photo by Doug Greenberg license CC NC 2.0 via flickr

Costa Rica Is the Land of the Toucan, with Six Species to Dazzle the Eye

Picture this: I’m busy writing a story, sitting at my table, when suddenly I hear “rick-rick-rick-rickit-rick.” I assumed it was a frog at first since I get dink frogs (yes that’s their real name) and cane toads in my yard. But then the realization hits that this is a toucan — not a frog at all.

Because, of course, Costa Rica is a land of toucans and frogs. This tiny country contains more than 200 species of amphibians and at least 850 species of birds. That includes six species of toucans — and all of them are beautiful and fascinating MyTanFeet reports.

The beautiful fiery-billed aracari looking for a snack perhaps. Photo by matlacha license CC NC SA 2.0 via Flickr

I’ve included all of Costa Rica’s gorgeous toucans and the places where you can find them. That way, if you decide to visit this land of astounding natural beauty, you know where to go.

Including this noisemaker — the keel-billed toucan

Keel-billed toucan at Laguna Lagarto Lodge, Costa Rica. Photo by Doug Greenberg license CC NC 2.0 via Flickr

The keel-billed toucan (Rhamphastos sulfuratus) does indeed make a croaking sound that’s not unlike a frog. You can find these birds in Monteverde, Bijagua, Puerto Viejo (my former place of residence), Turrialba, and Tortuguero, a land of gorgeous winding swamps and rivers.

Emerald toucanet

An emerald toucanet in Santa Elena, Costa Rica. Photo by Joseph C. Boone license CC SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a bit of controversy surrounding this cute toucan. You see, in Costa Rica, it’s currently divided into two species — the emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus), and the blue-throated toucanet (Aulacorhynchus caeruleogularis). The photo below gives you a good idea why this little bird has earned the blue-throated name.

Blue-throated toucanet near the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica. Photo by Doug Greenberg license NC ND 2.0 via Flickr

As you can see, these two small toucans are very difficult to tell apart. Some scientists still consider the blue-throated to be a subspecies of the emerald toucanet. Either way, these birds are adorable.

Toucanets favor higher elevations. If you hope to find them, your best bets are in Turrialba, near the base of Volcán Turrialba, Monteverde, and at the Children’s Eternal Rainforest Bajos del Tigre station.

Collared aracari

A collared aracari in Agua Azul, Costa Rica. Photograph by Kieran license CC NC SA 2.0 via Flickr

Like the emerald toucanet, collared aracaris (Pteroglossis torquatus) prefer higher elevations — they can be found up to 3000 feet. Some of the best places to see this aracari (pronounced ar-a-SAR-ee) are in La Fortuna and Bijagua.

Fiery-billed aracari

A pair of fiery-billed aracaris near Alajuela, Costa Rica. Photo by David Schenfeld license CC NC ND 2.0 via Flickr

Fiery-billed aracaris (Pteroglossis frantzii) are found only in the central and southern Pacific regions of Costa Rica. Unlike the emerald toucanet and their collared aracari cousins, fiery-billed aracaris prefer hanging out in lowland forests. You can find these beauties in Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and Uvita on Costa Rica’s southwestern coast.

Yellow-eared toucanet

Yellow-eared toucanet on the slope of Volcán Arenal, Costa Rica. Photo by Juan Zamora license CC 2.0 via Flickr

The yellow-eared toucanet (Selenira spectabilis) is the most difficult toucan to see in Costa Rica. You can only find these small toucans in the Guanacaste corridor to the lowland regions of the Caribbean.

Black-mandibled toucan

Black-mandibled toucan near La Selva, Costa Rica. Photo by Tom Benson license NC ND 2.0 via Flickr

The black-mandibled toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus) is Costa Rica’s largest toucan and they are widespread throughout much of the country. Because they are the largest toucan, they are also the biggest bully, sometimes harassing their smaller relatives for food.

Toucan facts

These birds are famous for their over-sized beaks. Despite this and their splashy colors, they are actually difficult to spot in a forest. Sometimes you have to wait until you hear one call in order to find them. And they aren’t picky eaters either. They love fruits, berries, insects, eggs, and baby birds. I’ve seen black-mandibled (also called chestnut-mandibled) toucans carry off a whole grapefruit in their capacious beaks!

And as you can see from the photo below, black-mandibled toucans, at least, aren’t above eating the occasional bat.

Black-mandibled toucan and bat in Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Photo by Sergey Pisarevskiy license CC SA 2.0 via Flickr

It’s also not unusual for toucans to gather in mixed flocks. I’ve had keel-billed, black-mandibled, and collared aracaris in my yard. That’s quite a sight when that happens.

Jungle birds

These birds spend most of their lives in the rainforest canopy and are quite playful, BeautyOfBirds reports. You can sometimes spot them tossing fruit back and forth to each other.

This video features a very hungry baby keel-billed toucan who someone rescued after the little guy tumbled out of the nest:

Toucans prefer to nest high in the trees in a nest that’s already been hollowed out. That big bill isn’t well-suited for excavating a nest so they prefer something that’s ready-made. In general they lay two to four eggs each year.

They are not quiet

The videos below give you a chance to see and hear sounds we hear frequently, the calls of the black-mandibled- and keel-billed toucans.

And this video shows just how beautiful the collared Aracari really is.

Featured image by Doug Greenberg license CC NC 2.0 via Flickr

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Written by Megan Colleen

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