Birding in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a bird watchers paradise with 903 identified species of birds. As the bridge connecting the Americas, few places in the world can boast of having so many bird species. Popular birds in this area include toucans, scarlet macaws, motmots, and the quetzal. From the dry tropics of the Nicoya Peninsula to the humid lowlands of the Caribbean Coast, the incredible array of habitats and micro-systems creates nearly endless bird watching opportunities in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has many lodges that invite you to stay and investigate all of these habitats without exhausting travel time. Here is a list of the top birding destinations in Costa Rica.
Carara National Park
Just north of Jaco, Carara National Park is a great place for birdwatching. It is home to over 400 species of birds, including several species of toucans, parrots, hawks, and vultures. There is also a wide variety of tropical hummingbirds, owls, and other nocturnal birds. The park's trails provide easy access to the best birdwatching spots, and visitors can also hire local guides to help them spot the birds.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest is a popular destination for birdwatching due to its incredible biodiversity and variety of habitats. It is home to over 350 species of birds, including some rare and endangered species. The best time to go birdwatching in Monteverde Cloud Forest is during the dry season between December and March. This is when the birds are more active and easier to spot. Other popular bird watching spots in Monteverde are the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. These reserves offer trails and observation platforms that provide excellent views of the canopy and the birds that inhabit it.
Manuel Antonio National Park
There are over 300 species of birds that can be spotted in the Manuel Antonio National Park, including toucans, parrots, eagles, owls, tanagers, and hummingbirds. The park is also home to several species of rare and endangered birds, including the endangered Great Green Macaw. Birdwatchers can take advantage of the many trails and observation points throughout the park. Visitors should also be aware of the local wildlife laws and regulations to protect the park's delicate ecosystem.
San Gerardo de Dota
This area is home to more than 170 species of birds, including the Resplendent Quetzal, the national bird of Costa Rica. Other species include the Black-bellied Hummingbird, the Blue-crowned Motmot, the Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, the Black-capped Flycatcher, and the Slaty-tailed Trogon. Birders can also find a variety of raptors, including the Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, the Grey-necked Wood-Rail, and the Crested Eagle.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is home to an incredibly diverse array of bird species. Some of the most sought after species of birds in the park include the Scarlet Macaw, the Great Green Macaw, the Long-tailed Manakin, the Red-capped Manakin, and the Collared Aracari. The park is also home to a variety of endemic birds, such as the Baird’s Trogon and the Black-hooded Antshrike. There are also numerous wading birds in the park, including herons, egrets, storks, and ibises. As the park is located in a tropical rainforest, the abundance of food and vegetation provides a perfect habitat for these species. In addition to the birds, the park is also home to a variety of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and insects, making it an excellent spot for wildlife viewing.
Palo Verde National Park
Over 280 species of migratory and non-migratory birds have been identified in Palo Verde National Park. Birdwatchers can explore the park's vast wetlands, lagoons, and mangroves. Many of the resident tropical bird species nest on a small mangrove island in the Río Tempisque. Isla de Pajaros provides a safe place for Cattle Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Green-backed Herons, Anhingas, Great Egrets, and Black-crowned Night-Herons to breed. Other birds you can expect to see in the park include White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Snail Kite, American Widgeon, Northern Shoveler, and Blue-winged Teal.
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
Located in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica, on the border between Alajuela and Guanacaste provinces, the Refuge is accessible by boat. Among the many birds found in Caño Negro are: glossy Ibis, black-necked stilt, neotropical cormorants, American anhinga, northern jacana, American widgeon, wood stork, white Ibis, black-bellied tree duck, northern shoveler, snail kite, green backed heron, roseate spoonbill, and blue-winged teal. This is one of the best places to see the Nicaraguan grackle, whose only Costa Rican habitat is Caño Negro and other marshy areas just south of Lake Nicaragua.