Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)
Finding a Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) was quite a challenge. It lives from southern Mexico to northern Colombia and Venezuela; although it is very colorful, it manages to camouflage itself in the forest. Our first meeting was in the middle of a storm, close to the little town of Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. While I waited for the rain to subside, I waited under a shed and photographed the tiny and beautiful chlorophonias that jumped inside the nearby bushes.
When I looked up at the mountain to observe the clouds, I saw a dry tree at the top of the slope, and a slight movement caught my attention. The top of the tree was possibly more than three hundred feet away, and it was impossible to see a perched bird there with the naked eye.
Surprisingly, I used my camera to check the bare branches and saw the toucan. I started photographing it, but the position was challenging, I had to use the camera almost vertically, and it was raining torrentially. I didn’t even know I had a couple of reasonably good images to share until I reviewed them on the computer screen. That day, everything was against me, the rain, the distance, the darkness, and the backlight created by the mountain mist. Finally, I could rescue its beautiful colors, photograph it, and make a short video of it.
My second encounter was also tough; this time, I was walking under the canopy of a very tall forest near the Don Diego River, one of the 30 rivers originating in the Sierra Nevada. There was such a proliferation of birds that I did not know where to point my camera, but I could see something moving in the highest part of the canopy. Again, with the heavy camera upright and my twisted neck, I managed to locate it for a few seconds of total happiness and a few images of that beautiful moment.