The Toucan Barbet is a species very similar to the Prong-billed Barbet in terms of shape and size, however it is way more colorful. It has a deep red eye on a black mask and front head. The bill is pale with colors ranging from yellowish to light blue, and a black tip in the upper mandible. The throat and cheeks are gray. The chest and belly are red, while the back and flanks are dull orange. The wings and the tail are dark with some orange tones. In terms of behavior, we saw this species approach the feeders in groups up to three individuals, although a single individual came alone sometimes. They move display slow movements characteristic of the toucan family, moving the head from one side to another, and then jumping out in bursts of activity.
The Silver-beaked Tanager is relatively big among tanagers, but has a streamlined body. Their beak is indeed silver, but the most striking feature of the species is the deep red colors of the feathers, which are lighter on the belly and darker on the throat and head. They are very active and move rapidly along the foliage as they search for fruit and insects. It can be seen on the picture below that the bird is in a position to take off the branch.
Don’t get confused by the name, this is not the Scarlet Tanager, which incidentally has very bright red colors. The Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager is just unbelievably handsome. It has a dark body which can look blueish under the right light. The belly is a deep scarlet color, although some subspecies may show different shades of this red. It also has a red patch on the ear, and two blue patches, one in the shoulder and the other on the rump. Just as its name, it is a very elegant bird, specially when set against a contrasting green background. It shares the same genus with the Blue-winged and the Lachrymose Mountain-Tanagers, however I really find this species to be pinnacle of beauty. We saw them at about 3,000 meters above sea level, during our visit to Termales del Ruiz.
The Purplish-mantled Tanager was a great sight as we traveled down the trail at Tatama National Park. We were in search of the Gold-ringed Tanager, an endemic specialty of the zone, however this tanager also surprised us a few times with its presence. Its body is blue, with a heavier tone on the face, chest and head, and has a bright yellow-orange throat that creates a lot of contrast. The bill is short but wide. Its diet is mainly composed of insects, however it also eats some of the berries found on the mossy forest that covers the medium elevations of Pereira. They inhabit the cloud forests of the Andes and forage at a relatively low height. They move very rapidly from branch to branch.
When we heard the name of this species, we immediately held high expectations of it, and when we finally saw it, we were not disappointed. The male has a striking combination of dark yellow, light yellow, black, brown, light blue and green, which means six colors in a single bird. Although the female lacks the black patch in the belly and the light yellow back, it is still pretty colorful. It is a bit larger than most other tanagers we saw in Finca Alejandría. It was curious how the pair of birds would return every now and then to the same exact feeder and after drinking some sugary water, disappeared without a trace. Most other species chose more than one feeder, but this one only returned to the same one time after time. It is endemic to Colombia and its population is heavily endangered, as their numbers have been declining. It is a shame that such a beauty of nature is being erased from our world.
This is a rather large bird for a Tanager, but its colors are very contrasty against the dark green background. It has a yellow throat, chest and belly, with black mask and back, a blue patch on the shoulder, and blue wings and tail. They readily come in groups to fruit feeders, sharing space with other tanagers and honeycreepers. It bears some resemblance to the Lachrymose Mountain Tanager. At first sight might resemble a flycatcher due to the yellow belly, but its behavior is nothing similar. Interestingly enough, this bird would perch on the branch before going down to the fruit feeder, but would not perch back when leaving the feeder. There is only one opportunity each time to snap a picture.
This is a medium-sized hummingbird that can be found in South America, specifically in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Males have a violet crown, while females have a green crown. It has iridescent plumage, like many other hummer species, which changes the color depending on the view angle and the angle of the light that bounces off it, giving away colors that look metallic and intense. In general it is green on the back and sides, white on the belly, chest and throat, and coppery in the upper tail. The bill is black, mostly straight and thin. The wings are brown, but glow blue when iridescent.
The Great Green Macaw is a pretty uncommon sight in Costa Rica. It is a huge bird, their calls are very loud. I had the opportunity to observe the birds very close in Rio Cuarto. Our wildlife photography guide explained that Green and Scarlet Macaws do not hybridize in the wild, however in this refuge, a pair of Macaws have been interbreeding in the last few years, resulting in hybrids being born. In Rio Frio, where my parents live, it is common to see a pair of these birds flying overhead most of the times I am there. Either they are more common in the area, or a single pair of birds has taken residence. They are easy to identify, as their harsh call is heard from very far away and no other parrot has such a characteristic call, other than the Scarlet Macaw. They like to feed on almond and are likely to be seen perching relatively high in those trees.
The Talamanca Hummingbird is pretty similar to the Fiery-throated Hummingbird and both inhabits similar environments, in the highlands of Costa Rica. The female has gray underparts, which makes it easier to identify against the Fiery-throated. The male is glittering green in the upperside, with iridescent throat and head that look black most of the time, but in certain angles reveal a deep turquoise-blue metallic color in the throat, and purplish-blue on the head.
The Keel-billed Toucan is the one bird we all know about. It is featured in all brochures and advertising around tourism in Costa Rica. It’s colorful beak is amazing. As with all Toucans species though, this bird will raid other species’ nests, so it is common to see that other birds harass them, trying to scare them away. In particular, I have seen Great Kiskadees acting aggressively towards them in an effort to divert them from their nest. They are smaller than the Yellow-throated Toucan, which has a duller beak than the Keel-billed. Both species are very common in the Caribbean lowlands, and both like to eat a variety of fruits, readily coming to fruit feeders. One of the most interesting traits of this bird is its song, which resembles the croaking of a frog. They move their heads very slowly from one side to the other, then remains motionless for a few seconds, and suddenly jumps and turns around 180 degrees before falling in the same branch, an entire spectacle.