Yellow-throated Toucan

Yellow-throated Toucan at Bonilla; photo by John Beer

Although it is considered a near-threatened species, the yelping calls of the Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus) are still a fairly frequently heard sound on the Caribbean and southern Pacific slopes. This is Costa Rica’s largest toucan species but here in the Turrialba area it is a rare find. At Lagunas de Bonilla we have barely crossed into the province of Limón, where it then appears regularly and often outnumbers the Keel-billed Toucan. 

Visitors to Costa Rica may be confused by the recent English-language name changes. In the most detailed Costa Rican bird guide,  A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica – Stiles & Skutch (1988), and in the first edition of the standard field guide, The Birds of Costa Rica – Richard Garrigues & Robert Dean, it is termed the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan. Most tourists here will probably be using the latest edition of the latter and will then find it called the Black-mandibled Toucan, but submissions to birding databases will now show Yellow-throated Toucan as the new name for the bird throughout Costa Rica. I note that a small area in the northwest of the country still has entries for the Black-mandibled Toucan, but that term seems now to be reserved primarily for southern, mostly South American populations. Oh dear.

Anyway, take a look at the bill colour in John’s next photos from Bonilla:

It takes two, baby! Yellow-throated Toucans at Bonilla; photo by John Beer
Chestnut-and-yellow bill and blue feet! An amazing bird. Photo by John Beer 


On my previous visit to Bonilla I had found only Yellow-throated Toucans but on this occasion they were outnumbered by the Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus). We noted a group of at least 7. This is the common large toucan of the Caribbean and the northern parts of the country and the one whose croaking sound I hear every morning at San Antonio.

Keel-billed Toucan at Bonilla, courtesy of John Beer

For those of you visiting the Turrialba area, you’ll be happy to hear that you can also find other toucans here:  Collared Araçari (Pterroglossus torquatus), Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorrhynchus prasinus) and, with luck, Yellow-eared Toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis).

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