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Best Spots for Toucan Watching in Costa Rica

Toucans in Costa Rica are among the most photographed animals from this tiny country and every tourist that visits this country wants to see and take a photo of these unique birds.

These beautiful creatures are some of the most colorful and strange-looking birds that live in the Costa Rican forests and catch our eyes with their large bills, sometimes longer than their bodies.

Their daily menu consists mainly of fruits, especially the very ripe ones, berries, eggs, insects, small lizards, and sometimes newly hatched creatures.

There are 6 Costa Rica toucans species:

  • Keel-billed toucan
  • Yellow eared toucanet
  • Black mandibled toucan
  • Fiery billed Aracari
  • Emerald toucanet
  • Collared Aracari

All the 6 species of Costa Rican toucans can be found in the rainforests from the country and they generally live in small groups.

Toucans of Costa Rica live in groups and they have a very unique characteristic: they use to follow the leader’s behavior which means that if one of the birds flies away, the others will follow it.

This thing is good to know especially if you are interested in photographing them as you can easily predict the flying direction of the group.

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Black mandibled toucan Toucans in Costa Rica

Black mandibled toucan Costa Rica Toucan

The 6 types of toucans in Costa Rica

Emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)

Emerald toucanet is the smallest toucanet species from Costa Rica with its 30 cm (12 inches) lengths.

Emerald Toucanet Blue-throated Costa Rica Toucan

Emerald Toucanet Blue-throated Costa Rica Toucan

It has a beautiful green color on his stomach and chest so they are extremely hard to spot in the dense tropical canopy.

Costa Rican emerald toucanet is different from the ones you can see in Mexico or South America because of its dark blue throat.

Where can you see them

They generally live in elevations between 850 to 2500 meters and are very common in areas like Monteverde cloud forest, Caribbean mountains, and Turrialba.

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)

The collared aracari toucans are larger than the emerald toucanet having about 40 cm (15 inches) tall and they look similar to the Fiery billed aracari.

Collared Aracari Toucan Costa Rica

Collared Aracari Toucan Costa Rica

They can be easily identified after their yellowish beak and blackberry stripes and they generally live in flocks of 5 to 12 individuals.

Where can you see them

Collared aracari move very fast through the dense canopy and can be seen in Cahuita National Park, Central Pacific mountains, and Gandoca Manzanillo area.

Fiery billed aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii)

The fiery billed aracari looks very similar in size, weight, and style of life with its cousin collared aracari.

The main difference between these two species is the color of their beak and chest; fiery billed aracari has orange and red stripes not yellowish like its relatives, collared aracari.

Fiery billed aracari Costa Rica Toucan

Fiery billed aracari Costa Rica Toucan

These beautiful birds might weigh up to 250 grams and are about 45 cm long and they eat insects, fruits, lizards, eggs, and even newly hatched birds.

Where can you see them

Fiery billed aracari can be seen mostly in Punta Burica, Dominical, Playa Pavones as well as Corcovado National Park and Uvita.

Yellow eared toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis)

From all the 6 species of toucans in Costa Rica, the yellow-eared toucanet is the hardest to see and photograph.

What makes them so different from the other species of toucans from Costa Rica is the fact that males and females look completely different.

Yellow eared toucanet Costa Rica Toucan

Yellow eared toucanet Costa Rica Toucan

Males have yellow auricular streak while females have brown crowns and are generally smaller than males.

Yellow eared toucanet is the only species that have a full black throat, stomach, and breast and they generally meet in elevations between 150 to 1150 meters.

Where can you see them

The best places to go if you want to see these magnificent birds are in Arenal Volcano National Park and the tropical jungles from the Central volcanic mountains.

These are the new essentials you have to pack for your trip

Keel billed toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus

Keel-billed toucans are the most representative birds of Costa Rica with their striking colors and large beak.

They are extremely social and friendly and can be seen in advertising campaigns and other ads because of their colorful feathers and cute face.

Keel billed toucan Costa Rica Toucan

Keel billed toucan Costa Rica Toucan

Keel billed toucans can have between 35 to 50 cm and their beak is quite large reaching up to 18 cm.

They can be seen in all the tropical forests from Mexico to Venezuela and they generally live in flocks.

This type of toucan nest in tree holes that are very narrow to protect them against rain and predators.

Where can you see them

You have higher chances to spot these toucans in Costa Rica in the Arenal Volcano National park, Puerto Viejo de Limon, and Manuel Antonio National Park.

Black mandibled toucan or chestnut mandibled toucan (Ramphastos ambiguous)

Also known as the yellow-throated toucan, the chestnut mandibled toucan is the largest toucan that lives in Costa Rica.

Sometimes they are confused with “Toco toucan” that can be found in Ecuador and Colombia, but these beautiful birds have black feathers with some yellow on the throat and around their eyes.

Black mandibled toucan Costa Rica Toucan

Black mandibled toucan Costa Rica Toucan

They are quite big, having an average weight somewhere between 500 to 750 grams and a length of 40 to 65 cm.

Black mandibled toucans generally live in areas from the Caribbean lowlands and Central Valley at elevation up to 1.200 meters and on the Pacific slopes at elevation up to 1.750 meters.

Where can you see them

If you want to spot these incredible creatures then you’d better head up to Tortuguero National Park, the northern part of the country ( Upala, La Fortuna, and Bagaces) as well as Corcovado National Park.


Sleeping with toucans in Costa Rica

If you want to see toucans on your trip to Costa Rica you can get a bird watching tour in one of the protected areas from the country, or sleep is these hotels that are specially designated for bird watching:

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.