Probably one of the first things you hear from a new visitor is, “Where can I see the ‘Fruit Loops’ Bird”? Toucans are the quintessential bird of the tropics: big, bold, colorful and always a treat to see. Not surprisingly, they are known for their unmistakable beaks, which can be as much as 30% of the total size of the bird. After wondering for years why toucans had such huge beaks, researchers finally determined that they act as huge radiators for the birds, with a system of blood vessels in them for cooling. Toucans are omnivores, meaning they will eat anything, and while you may see them at fruit feeders, they are as comfortable eating baby birds out of nests. Nature is harsh.
There is no single location in Costa Rica to see all six species of the toucan family that live here, but no matter where you are, you can see at least one of them. Of the six birds in the family, two are called toucans, two smaller species are called aracari, and the two smallest are called toucanets.
The largest member, measuring almost 2 feet, or half a meter, is the yellow-throated toucan. You may know him as the black-mandibled or chestnut-mandibled. International bird organizations keep changing his name as they uncover more DNA studies, so now he is the yellow-throated toucan. These toucans are found on both the Caribbean and southern Pacific slopes of Costa Rica.