***Update*** Although tragically, the town of Cinchona was destroyed in the 6.2 earthquake of 1/8/2009 and the original Cafe de Colobries destroyed, it has been rebuilt. Fruit and hummingbird feeders attract many of the same bird species and it should improve with time.
Costa Rica has become quite developed for birding. Although lacking in canopy towers, the field guide has been updated, there are lots of excellent professional guides, protected areas with bird lists throughout the country and hummingbird feeders at many sites visited by tourists. Not all of the feeding stations, though, are accessible to the public. Cinchona is the exception; the feeders attracting up to ten species of hummingbirds, amazingly close looks at Emerald (Blue-throated) Toucanets, both Barbet species and others are at an accessible roadside stop and only cost $1.
Cinchona is located along the alternate, slower, curvier route to Sarapiqui that passes by Varablanca. It is about two hours by car from San Jose, three hours by bus. Last week, I did the three hour ride for a day of hummingbird madness; a welcome change from busy, almost birdless San Jose. Leaving on the 6:30 bus, the comfortably empty bus quickly filled up en route; we must have picked up passengers at every scheduled and unscheduled stop until folks were standing in the aisles. About 9:30, I happily relinquished my seat upon arrival at Cinchona, and stepped off the bus into fresh cloud forest air.
The Vista Cinchona hummingbird feeding station
The balcony was buzzing with birds.
One of the most common species was a Costa Rican endemic; Coppery-headed Emerald.
Great looks at Brown Violetear
Aside from very close looks at 10 species of hummingbirds, the fruit feeders also attracted Emerald (Blue-throated) Toucanet
You can get ridiculously close to Emerald Toucanets here!!
many Silver-throated Tanagers
Crimson-collared Tanager and
The Yiguirro or Clay-colored Robin
The views of a waterfall in a beautiful cloud forest filled canyon weren’t all that bad either.
For lunch I ate at the soda next door. They also had fruit and hummingbird feeders with much of the same. Although it was the quiet time of the day for birding, I still managed to see a Squirrel Cuckoo.
The rain starting at noon, I opted for the 1 PM bus back to San Jose as the following bus wasn’t until 5 P.M.
Tips and notes:
A sunny day might be good for raptor species.
Don’t be shy about giving a donation at the feeders.
If you have to take the bus, get the 6:30 A.M. to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui via Varablanca at the Caribeños bus terminal.
Make sure you tell the driver Cinchona or you might end up in the Sarapiqui lowlands (not too bad of an alternative actually).
This is a good site to combine with the nearby Virgen del Socorro road.
Don’t forget to stop at the beautiful La Paz waterfall!
Bird species recorded:
Bat Falcon: One flew into view carrying a small bird, a Green Violetear buzzing it the whole time.
Crimson-fronted Parakeet: flyovers
Blue and white Swallow
Green Hermit: occasionally at feeders
Brown Violetear: lots
Green Violetear: also lots, sometimes flaring their “violet ears” in typical hummingbird rage.
Violet Sabrewing: big, beautiful purple males.
Green-crowned Brilliant: a few always present.
White-bellied Mountain Gem: a few.
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird: 1 at the front feeders.
Coppery-headed Emerald: lots.
Emerald (Blue-throated Toucanet): a few coming in very close at banana feeders.
Red-headed Barbet: a pair in vicinity.
Prong-billed Barbet: a few.
Gray-breasted Wood Wren: a few heard.
Common Bush Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager: lots
Sooty-faced Finch: calling from understory