Birds of Costa Rica
Toucans and Aracaris
Toucans only inhabit the tropical regions of America. There are 42 neotropical toucan species and Costa Rica counts six different species. The large beak of the toucan is used to obtain food and also regulates the body temperature. It consists of the same material as our fingernails and is very lightweight, otherwise the birds could never fly.
On the Nicoya Peninsula the only member of the toucan family is the Fiery-Billed Aracari. A similar species, the Collared Aracari is only found on the Carribean side of Costa Rica.
Aracaris are smaller than toucans and have more slender beaks. Bands of up to 10 birds roam through the upper levels of forests in search of fruits and insects.
The superstar of the toucan family is the Keel-Billed Toucan with its stunning rainbow colored beak. Still larger is his similarly colored cousin, the Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan whose beak is yellow brown. The much smaller Emerald Toucanet lives in higher altitudes, mainly in the Talamanca mountains.
The main diet of toucans consists of fruits, mainly berries. During courtship the birds will throw pieces of fruit to each other as if playing a game catch. However, for their supply of proteins, the toucans also prey on insects, lizards, babies of other birds and their eggs.
Toucans nest in cavities in the trunks of trees, mostly occupying an old woodpecker hole. In fact, toucans themselves are closely related to woodpeckers. When they go to sleep in their tree hole their large bill often doesn't fit, so the toucan folds its bill over its back and wedges itself into the hole upside down.