The Delightful Eight: The Most Spectacular Birds of Costa Rica

Sometimes, life is in the hovering, in the rapidness of wing-flapping, in a tiny heart throbbing, and in the searching: of nectar-filled blooms in flowering plants. Sometimes, life is in the joy of going to a rainforested land and in watching birds flying free, knowing precisely where they belong.

This week, we’re telling you a story whose beginnings are hummed by a Central American country called Costa Rica, a story of feather-sonation and colours, a story of wing-trill and torpor and much, much more… a story of the little wonder called the hummingbird and all its variations, a story of other prominent birds that will sweep you off your feet with their spectacular plumes and feathers. Here are Toehold’s favourite eight Costa Rican birds.

1. Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing

© Jayanth Sharma

 

A daub of deep violet flying against a green forest brimming with savage exquisiteness: that’s a violet sabrewing, in all its gorgeousness.

A large hummingbird that it is, the violet sabrewing enchants when looked for at the edges of mountain forests, especially near streams that flow like they’re the epitome of poise and elegance.  Listen to its sharp, high-pitched twitter that pierces through the mountain-wind and your soul, if you allow it to, and a glorious smile will grace your face in the lap of the forests.

 

2. Keel-billed Toucan

Keel-billed Toucan

© Jayanth Sharma

 

The national bird of Belize, the gorgeous keel-billed toucan is also known as sulphur-breasted toucan and rainbow-billed toucan. You might wonder how it bears the weight of its own beak that drapes rainbow colours on it, but rest assured it does so just as gracefully as it can get.

With a lovely tone of yellow on its neck and chest, the rainbow-billed toucan is at its adorable best when it it’s dissecting its food with its bulky bill. It then tosses its head back and swallows the fruit all at once!  Found mostly in rainforests, the keel-billed toucan doesn’t fly long-distance, and hops through trees. If you’re lucky, you can find one of these large-beaked beauties nursing its fruity meal!

 

3. Green Hermit

Green Hermit

© Jayanth Sharma

 

The dark green and blue-green flutter of the male and the sooty gray of the female against the nuances of forest green… that’s another large hummingbird called the green hermit, which looks charming with its decurved reddish bill.

Nectar from flowers quenches its famished little belly and it dwells in hilly areas and thick forest undergrowth, usually near a water body. A resident breeder from the southern part of Central America to the northern South America, you have a chance to meet and greet the green hermit in Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad, north-eastern Venezuela, and the northern Andes of eastern Peru.

 

4. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

© Jayanth Sharma

 

This is a bird of forest edge, river bank, open country, coffee plantation, woodland, garden, and scrub. This is a hummingbird with an almost straight bill.

In the mellowed green on its throat; the coy green-tinged gold on its crown, back and flanks; in the paleness of its grey belly, in the rufous hue of its vent and rump and the forked tail with a striking dusky tip, the rufous-tailed hummingbird is found in abundance not only in Costa Rica but in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador.

 

5. Long-billed Hermit

Long-billed Hermit

© Jayanth Sharma

 

Formerly known as western long-tailed hermit or just long-tailed hermit (look carefully below the white part of the tail in the image above, and you’ll see why), the long-billed hermit is now called so because the length of the bill is apparently a more notable feature than that of the tail. A resident breeder from Mexico to Colombia, and Venezuela to Ecuador, this hummingbird dwells in forest undergrowth, and prefers places near water and the flowers it feeds off.

Grey to buff in the underparts, the long-billed hermit is daubed with dark green on the top and has a striking blue-green rump. The male long-billed hermits are known to sing in communal ‘leks’ and wiggle their long tails (drama is good: in this case, it augurs reproduction) in an enticing display, all in an effort to attract the females. And the female, as you would know buy now, will select the best lek singer and mates with it, by and by. Stories are for stowing. Remember them. If you get to see them, you are lucky.

 

6. Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

© Jayanth Sharma

Surprise yourself when some brilliant words come to mind just when you see the brilliantly-coloured macaws in Costa Rica. If nuances of red are a riot on a breathtaking evening, these scarlet macaws can just be swoon-worthy beings in your vision.

And don’t even get us started about how their red, yellow, and blue looks spectacular amidst the green chaos of the forest and against a cloudless sapphire sky. The scarlet macaw belongs to the humid evergreen forests of South America, and is also found in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Bolivia.

 

7. Collared Aracari

Collared Aracari

© Jayanth Sharma

 

Collared aracari, (pronounced /ah-ruh-saa-ri/), called so because of the brightly marked, inimitable pattern of its beak, is a toucan that breeds from Mexico to Panama.

With a head black as soot and dark olive-green upper parts, except for the red rump and upper tail, aracaris mainly feed on fruits, insects, eggs, and lizards, while other small prey also make their tummy happy. They usually move through the forests with a swift and direct flight, mostly from six to fifteen in number. Forget not to make numerous pictures when you see something like that!

 

8. Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

© Deep Green Photography

 

Part of mythologies, Guatemala’s national bird and the name of the local currency, and adorable beyond reason – that’s the resplendent quetzal, for the love of all things magnificent!

The tail of the male gives an almost dreamy appearance to it, while the body is a glistening green-gold or blue-violet, and the breast is red. The male also has an adorable crown-like crest and the wings are peculiarly long and have a fringed look. While the bill of the male is covered with thin, green, fibre-like feathers, the females’ bills are black in colour. Their thick plumage, although comely, exists to protect their fragile skin. Find them in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica, and also in Mexico and Panama.

 

We wish that you find these avian wonders on your next trip to Costa Rica and bring back lots of memories to stitch them to your memory forever.  Our ‘Humming on Cloud Nine’ Tour would be a great way to do it!

Categories: Articles, Featured, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized
Sourabha Rao

Sourabha is a staff writer at Toehold who dexterously gives verbal form to the inexpressible, and with her passion for travel, weaves immersive stories that transcend space and dissolve time.

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