Some animals look and sound as though they may come from another planet, and are not of this earth.
Birds are no exception to this rule, many are born with one-of-a-kind features that make them look highly conspicuous in a crowd.
Some have huge beaks, while others sport flame-colored mohawks, with multi-hued plumage that looks like it came straight from a rainbow. While others appear to have long dangling Fu Man Chu-like mustaches. Some birds might as well have jumped from the pages of a child’s fairy tale book.
One such bird is the Three-wattled bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus). The male of this species wears a stunning coat of reddish-brown.
While the face, head, and neck are bright white, with three long wattles dangling from his beak. They look just like the legendary Fu Man Chu mustache right?
Female birds meanwhile are duller when compared to their male counterparts, being more of an olive color with yellow streaks on their bellies. They also lack the wattles the males possess. Apart from their unusual appearance though, what makes these birds stand out most of all is the strange alien-like quality of their song.
Sort of sounding like a mix of bells chiming, interspersed with strange metallic clicks. Not surprisingly they have also been described as one of the loudest birds in the world.
Currently classed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list due to habitat loss this species can be found in Central America from eastern Honduras to Panama.
In Costa Rica, they can be found breeding in higher elevations with the males shaking their impressive wattles to attract willing females.
A mature male three-wattled bellbird is chestnut brown and between 25 and 30 cm (10-12 in) long – about the size of a grackle. The body, tail, and wings of the male bellbird are uniformly chestnut-brown, it’s head white with a black eye ring, eye-stripe, and bill. Its name comes from the three worm-like wattles of skin that hang from the base of the bill.
These wattles can be as long as 10 cm (4 in) and the middle of the three can be erected into an upright position. The female bellbirds are smaller and somewhat less striking in appearance. They are golden-brown across the back of the wings and tail with whitish streaking on the face, a buffy-streaked throat, and golden-brown streaking down the chest with pale-grey under tail coverts.
When the season is over, these bellbirds fly off to lowland areas for winter. The main diets of these birds are large fruits, usually in the higher forest canopy. They feed on fruit, especially those in the Lauraceae family.
Because of this, they are considered an altitudinal migrant as they follow fruiting peaks around the country and even cross borders into neighboring countries on both the Northern and Southern ends of Costa Rica.
Due to the secretive behavior of this bird, it is often only detected by its distinctive bell-like call given by the males. At close range, the vocalization is heard as a complex three-part song, the final “bonk” giving the bird its name.
This hollow, wooden “bonk” is thought to be among the loudest bird calls on Earth, audible to humans from over half a mile away.