One of the blessings of the perfect Costa Rica weather is the natural wealth we have, including the wonderful amount and variety of bird species.
Costa Rica is renowned all over the world for its protected areas and National Parks, perfect for thrilling hikes and unforgettable bird watching tours. About 870 species of birds have been found in the country, hidden in different tourist attractions like dry tropical forests, rain forests and cloud forests.
The best thing is that almost all Costa Rica Vacation Packages All Inclusive are great for birdwatchers, because you can make birding tours almost in every region of the country. In fact, there are specific boutique hotels ideal for birdwatchers due to its location. Even the Costa Rica’s Ornithological Society, points out that bird watching, once exclusively a tourist activity, has been increasing steadily in popularity among Costa Ricans. “Now, wherever you go, everybody knows their birds”, they say.
One important birding spot is located approximately 1 hour from Costa Rica’s main International Airport: Carara National Park. Scarlet Macaws, on the top of every birdwatcher list, can be easily seen here early in the morning or in the afternoon flying from their roosts in the mangroves into the reserve. Important populations of boat-tailed trogons, violaceous trogons and rufous-tailed jacamars can also be spotted here.
Other of the most-sought bird in Costa Rica is the resplendent Quetzal, which can be seen easily in the town of San Gerardo de Dota and in Monteverde. In the 1997 Christmas Bird Count, local birders at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve identified 368 species, more than anywhere else in the world.
Excellent birding spots in the Caribbean rainforest are La Selva Biological Station and Tortuguero National Park. Birders at La Selva will be surprised at how tame the birds have become in this long-protected reserve where more than 325 species are lodged. In the watery world of Tortuguero can be found five species of kingfishers, chestnut-billied herons, sungrebes, rufescent tiger herons and three species of toucans.
Expert birders will be looking for Costa Rica’s endemic species, about fifty of which are found in the mountainous regions. These include the bare-necked umbrella bird, the zeledonia, the black and yellow silky flycatcher and the long-tailed silky flycatcher. Three endemic species are found on Coco Island: a finch, a cuckoo and a flycatcher. Also, experts may want to visit Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, which is perhaps the best location to see the endangered Jabiru.
The best travel tips for birding in Costa Rica are: visit several habitats including dry tropical forest on the Pacific side, a cloud forest like Monteverde and a rainforest such as Tortuguero. Take a copy of the excellent field guide “Birds of Costa Rica” by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch (available in both English and Spanish) and hire a naturalist guide specialized in birds in each area you visit. If 368 species could be seen at Monteverde in a single day, just imagine how many you can see during your Costa Rica vacations!