Rrip rrip rrip rrip. My eyes shoot upwards. Nothing.
Rrip rrip rrip rrip. The trees must be talking to me.
Just as I’m about to convince myself that I’ve officially lost my mind in Costa Rica, a flash of green flaps from one branch to the next.
Once you’ve learned the call of the emerald toucanet, Aulacorhynchus prasinus, the cloud forest reinvents itself into a game of hide and seek…though the way this game works, you are always the seeker. With its distinctive throaty call, the emerald toucanet will make your ears perk instantaneously. But its green breast and belly camouflages the bird into the equally emerald canopy, making it difficult to track down.
The emerald toucanet is among the smallest of toucans, the male weighing an average of 5.7 ounces and the female weighing about 5.3 ounces. Although males are typically a bit larger than females, the birds are monomorphic, meaning they are identical in coloration. With an average lifespan in the wild of 11 years, toucanets have a monogamous relationship and commonly nest in abandoned cavities, whose previous tenants were likely woodpeckers.
Fruits and insects are the main part of an emerald toucanet’s diet, hence why they are regarded as an important seed dispersal species. They are native to the higher elevation cloud forests of Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Blog post contribution by Alex Fylypovych, UGA Costa Rica Photojournalism Intern.