The Red-ruffed Fruitcrow is a large bird belonging to the Cotingidae family. It does resemble a crow in overall body form, but it sports a brilliant red-orange throat and an orange chest and belly that’s very distinctive, even inside the darkness of the forest they inhabit. Although arboreal, they do come to the ground to eat fallen fruit. Another endemic bird of Colombia. We saw this bird in Yarumo Blanco SFF, in Pereira, where it is actually abundant and not so afraid of people. It came to ground a few times and seemed to be comfortable with us being around.
The Green-and-black Fruiteater is a species of the Cotingidae family, despite having a body form similar to a Tanager. The female is entirely green with yellow streaking on the belly, and red bill and legs. The male is similar, but has a black head and a yellow necklace that separates the black head from the green belly. We saw this species as we searched for the Gold-ringed Tanager at Tatama National Park. It was not surprisingly perching on a branch that showed some small fruits, which presumably were being eaten by the bird.
Just like the Red-legged Honeycreeper, which I soon learnt to love too much, the Shining Honeycreeper is a gorgeous species. It seems that all birds bearing the Honeycreeper name are incredibly colorful, with the Green Honeycreeper sharing an space with these beauties. In all three species, dymorphism marks great differences between genders, with the males having the most conspicuous colors for attracting females. The female has a green back, light blue chest with streaking and yellowish legs, although not as bright as the male’s. The female seems to be fluffier than the male, which is more streamlined than the corresponding male of the Red-legged species. They can get quite aggressive against Red-legged Honeycreepers when they coincide at the same site.
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.
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.
The moment I saw this bird for the first time, I knew it would become my favorite. It is fairly small, yet the blue body and red legs of the male just pop out in their normal habitat, which is fairly green. The female is more difficult to spot, since most of the body is dark green, and the legs are dull red, even brownish. And there is more, because the juvenile male starts with the same green color as the female, however as it matures it gets the blue body and bright red legs. After the breeding season, the male again turns green, but keeps the red legs. This means that males can also be seen in various molting stages, with patches of green, blue and black all over the body.
Note that while the Red-legged Honeycreeper is in the Tanager family, its body shape is slimmer and is in general smaller than the Tanagers. The closest one in size is the Plain-colored Tanager, however the body shape is entirely different, with shorter bill and fluffier plumage. In Costa Rica, there are two other Honeycreeper species, the Shining Honeycreeper (which belongs to the same Cyanerpes genus) with its yellow legs, and the Green Honeycreeper (which belongs to the Chlorosphanes genus), with a green body.