Big or colorful birds. This is what I told our Costa Rican guide when he asked what birds I wanted to photograph. After a brief discussion, he agreed to my plan. Our first couple of days were at Luguna Lagarto in the lowlands, where it is hot and humid, and known for its toucans. It is not a lodge I would have picked – the rooms have no air conditioning. But, our guide Jeff said, it is the best place in Costa Rica to view and photograph toucans. We arrived, cameras in hand, and were not disappointed.

Within minutes, a Fiery-billed aracari took center stage. Its name says he is not a toucan. But, his look, his posture, his demeanor and a quick look up in wikipedia sure point to toucan.  For the purposes of our Costa Rican quest for colorful birds, this is a winner. He now joins my collection.

Each time I looked ash the Fiery-billed aracari’s beak I am reminded of a saw (though the beak is not serated).

The aracari (or toucan if you like) departed after filling up on bananas. Not 15 minutes later, perhaps the most beautiful of all the toucans, the Keel-Billed Toucan made its first appearance. When I think of a toucan, this guy/gal is center of mind. Colorful everywhere including purple lipstick on the tip of its beak and a fiery red butt (AVP, where are you?). I couldn’t take my eyes off her butt, reestablishing my younger self. Then taking photo after photo, claiming back my older self.

This gal showed off one of her best assets. Hard not to notice!

I am not sure whether this Keel-Billed Toucan is talking or smiling. I could have spent the day photographing him or her.

All of this activity in 30 minutes of our first evening. What was to come? The next morning, we rose early and headed back to the viewing area. As we approached, we saw two more Keel-Billed Toucans, waiting in a nearby tree. Instead of a solo act, it looked like we would be entertained by a duet. They sat stage left waiting for all the customers to take their seat (in our case, set up our cameras). They made us wait 20 minutes before deciding the stage was not for them.

Keel-Billed Toucans waiting their turn.

Luckily two Yelllow-throated toucans, most likely understudies to the Keel-Billed Toucans, made their appearance. They did not perform for long. As soon as the sun rose they were off.

Yelllow-throated toucans, clever name, eh?

We finished up our two days at the lodge completely satisfied. We didn’t realize there would be a curtain call just a couple of days later at Paraiso de Quetzal lodge where Quetzals rule. They would have to wait as another toucan-like bird made a quick visit to the stage. It was the Emerald Toucanet which looks like a toucan but has yet to be promoted.

Emerald toucanet with its hair puffed up, kind of like some politician we all know.

The toucans were amazing and reasonably easy to photograph. It was a play well-worth seeing.