White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola)

The White-collared Seedeater is very similar in shape to the common Variable Seedeater, and the male particularly resembles the Pacific race of the latter species. As with most seedeaters, the female is brown, but with a lighter color than other species. The male has a wide white collar around the neck, while the Pacific race of the Variable Seedeater has a thin line that does not join in the back of the neck and shows a black throat. The White-collared has wing bars, which no other seedeater in Costa Rica posses. Both species can be readily found in open pastures, where they share their main habitat and compete for food, specially grass seeds. Seedeaters tend to not gain the attention of most birders, but I believe this is the most beautiful seedeater species that we can see in Costa Rica. This individual stood on the fence wire as we drove through Boca Tapada; the picture was taken from the car window.

Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus)

The Crimson-rumped Toucanet is very similar in body form to the Emerald Toucanet, however there are key differences in their coloration. For a start, the beak of this Colombia species is red instead of black, with a white patch on the very base of the bill. It lacks the big purple patch of feathers on the face, but has a smaller turquoise patch by below the eye. The underparts are lighter green than the upper parts, and there is a small turquoise patch on the belly as well, which is not present on the Emerald. Like most toucans, their presence signals other species that is time to leave, as they will readily predate eggs and hatchlings, and we saw this behavior happen at the feeders in Finca Alejandría, as the feeders would empty whenever this bird approached. Also in true toucan fashion, their overall movement are slow, with spurts of fast activity.

Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)

The Brown-hooded Parrot is a noisy species of parrot that travels in groups of 10 or more. I have seen them at Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, in Boca Tapada, which is located very close to the border with Nicaragua. They arrive to the fruit feeder in big numbers and compete with other birds for the food. Their defining mark is the head, which is brown, showing also red to rose cheeks and a white mask. Once they come to the perch, they move slowly through it, sometimes aided by their beak, which serves as a third limb to prevent falling. Compared with other species of parrots, it is medium sized, being much larger than the Orange-chinned Parakeet, and smaller than the Scarlet and Great Green Macaws.

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)

The Collared Aracari is very similar to the Fiery-billed Aracari, but the upper part of the beak does not have the green-yellow-red coloration found on the Fiery-billed, and the ring around the belly is darker; also the ranges do not overlap, with the Fiery-billed Aracari seen in the Central and South Pacific, and the Collared Aracari seen in the Caribbean and the Northern Pacific. Both the Fiery and Collared Aracaris have a bright red rump, which differentiates them to the Yellow-throated and Keel-billed Toucans, which have white rumps. The juveniles have a very similar coloration, however their beaks and chest are duller in appearance, and overall the plumage is fluffier. The Collared Aracari is known in Costa Rica as the Gangster, as they always come in groups, bullying other birds that may be at food sources.

Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)

The Yellow-throated Toucan is the bird most people think of when we say toucan. It is one of the species that appears on books and tourism guides, the other one being the Keel-billed Toucan, which is smaller. I had heard the calls of these birds, but I did not know it was this toucan until I got close enough to see the birds. All Toucans have a feature in common: While they like to eat fruit and small amphibians, they also predate nests, either for eggs or hatchlings. Most other bird species in Costa Rica are fearful of any kind of toucan, and some of them react violently to their presence, in an effort to steer them away from their nests. Only big predator birds (like the Crested Hawk-Eagle) are known to predate on them.

I have observed an interesting behavior many times: Tanagers, Orioles and Honeycreepers were feeding peacefully on the feeder, but whenever a Toucan closed in, all the other birds flew away and stayed in a nearby tree, calling and calling loudly. As soon as the Toucan left, all birds returned to the feeder in frenetic mode, like food was going to end soon.