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The Gorgeous Birds of Costa Rica

The jungles of Costa Rica are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the entire world, and this includes not only a large variety of marine wildlife, as well as tree frogs and sloths, but also a multitude of beautiful and colorful birds, from tiny hummingbirds to great raptors. Here are some of the feathered wonders you might not have heard about:
Blue-Gray Tanager
Birds of Costa Rica: tanager
With its sky-blue feather, this small songbird may not be the gaudiest fowl in the jungles of Costa Rica, but it’s definitely among the prettiest. Its song is a beautiful twittering with tseep sounds interspersed.
Crested Caracara
Birds of Costa Rica: caracara
Adorned with a gorgeous black crest and a blue-tipped beak, the caracara is perhaps the most unique-looking raptor, not only in Costa Rica, but in the entire world. Despite being closely related to falcons, they are far larger, matching hawks and some eagles in size. It is a natural predator of many of the other birds here.
Fiery-Billed Aracari
Birds of Costa Rica: aracari toucan
While toucans are well-known worldwide, the aracari (pronounced AR-ə-SAR-ee) with their serrated bills, unique color pattern and vivid fiery colors are less famous among their family, though their obscurity can hardly be attributed to lack of beauty.
Fire-Throated Hummingbird
Birds of Costa Rica: hummingbird
Named for their plumage, which shifts gradually from bright green to a deep red right below the beak, these marvelous hummingbirds look like little rainbows in flight.
Great Curassow
Birds of Costa Rica: curassow
Despite its intimidating, powerful build, curassows typically eat only fruit and insects. That being said, these endangered birds can get very aggressive when threatened, and they can use their dinosaur-like physique to deadly effect. When trying to ward humans off, the great curassow will leap to great heights and attempt to rake the eyes.
Montezuma Oropendola
Birds of Costa Rica: oropendola
This unique bird is notable not only for its coloring, but also for its distinct song: the oropendola dips forward in a bowing display and makes a chattering sound that increases in volume and intensity. Their nests resemble sacks that hang from the tree branches, and because they are rather social, you'll find trees adorned with many such nests.
Ornate Hawk-Eagle
Birds of Costa Rica: hawk eagle
Another marvelous tropical raptor, the ornate hawk-eagle isn’t particularly large, but it’s a powerful hunter that can kill prey up to five times its own weight. It can be easily recognized due to the long crest growing at the back of its head. Juveniles' heads are almost entirely white and darken in shade as they grow up.
Resplendent Quetzal
Birds of Costa Rica: quetzal
Every bit as majestic as its evocative name suggests, this is quite possibly the most beautiful bird in Central America. It has a bright metallic sheen, emerald-green plumage and a ruby-red breast, with males developing long, regal tail-feathers.
Spectacled Owl
Birds of Costa Rica: owl
These night birds, so named for the white rings surrounding their eyes, don’t quite hoot. Their call has been likened rather to the sound of someone knocking on a door. The main function of this rapping call is to claim territory.
Birds of Costa Rica: sungrebe
This zebra-headed waterfowl may look like a duck and a have a similar build to one, but it is actually more closely related to cranes. Rather like marsupials, the sungrebe has a pouch that allows it to carry its young within the folds of its skin.
Swallow-Tailed Kite
Birds of Costa Rica: kite
This bird of prey joins the raptor beauty pageant with its striking black-and-white plumage and its signature V-shaped tail. While averaging at 1 lbs in weight, its wingspan can reach 4.5 feet.
Violet Sabrewing
Birds of Costa Rica: sabrewing
Though somewhat less colorful than its fire-throated cousin, with its hooked bill, its deep, metallic purple plumage and translucent, dragonfly-like wings, it is every bit as beautiful.
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