This is a keel-billed toucan.
This photo was taken by our good friend, Sharon, who operates Phoenix Daily Photo, when she visited us. She and my wife went on a wildlife-viewing raft trip on the Corobici River and the guide parked the raft for a short walk to the Las Pumas Rescue Center, where Sharon took this photo. You can also visit Las Pumas by road.
Las Pumas is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center founded in 1982 by a Swiss woman living in Costa Rica, Lily Bodmer de Hagnauer. She started by taking in injured or orphaned animals, particularly jaguars and other members of the cat family, then local people started bringing her animals that needed medical care. She provided care for as many as 160 animals at a time. She passed away in 2001, but her wildlife rehabilitation center continues her work.
Information about the center is available on its website: http://www.laspumas.org/. The center dependent on private funds and donations. It is not part of a government agency, although it works in cooperation with government environmental authorities and the park and wildlife agents even bring injured animals to the center for care. Ms. Hagnauer's family continues to contribute money to support and improve the center.
It is a wonderful place to visit, as it includes a nature trail, educational activities, and a small souvenir shop, and visitors may get up close looks at the animals that are orphaned, injured, escaped from illegal poachers, or otherwise in need of care before being re-introduced to the wild. If you are not in the area, please check out the Las Pumas website and consider making a donation.
Now, for some information about toucans. Toucans live only in the tropical areas of the Americas, and there are six species in Costa Rica.
The most distinctive feature of the toucans, of course, is their long, colorful beak. It seems like an awkward feature, but evolution has adapted toucans well to their diet. Their favorite food is ripe fruit. Because their bodies are too large for very small branches, their beaks enable them to land on larger branches and to reach up to pluck the fruit hanging from smaller branches above the larger branch where the sit.
Although their beaks look awkward, they are quite dexterious. Once they pluck a piece of fruit with the end of their beak, the next task is to get the fruit down their throat. They toss the fruit from the end of their beak into the air, then catch the fruit in their mouth in a position to swallow it.
I used this photo of Sharon's because it gave me a chance to talk about the Las Pumas Rescue Center, and because although I have taken a couple of photos of toucans in the wild, but they are not good enough to post. I posted a photo of the wildlife raft trip on the Corobici River on November 4. Tomorrow will be another toucan-related post.