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Birding Costa Rica caribbean slope

Birding Mirador Prendas

There are more places to bird in Costa Rica than Carara, Savegre, Monteverde, Rancho Naturalista, and La Selva. All of those sites are classic, great, and worth visiting but there are plenty of other places that await exploration. One of those little visited places is Mirador Prendas. Located at 200 meters elevation on the Caribbean slope near Horquetas, this site is a local tourism destination that features a tower-like structure, restaurant, some sort of accommodation, zip-lining, and other adventurous activities.

I first learned about the place when David Segura of the Tico Birder blog wrote about it. Since he saw White-fronted Nunbird, Semiplumbeous Hawk, and other nice birds, I have wanted to check the place out for some time. This past weekend, while perusing the Sarapiqui area for migrants, Susan Blank and I decided to do a detour to the Mirador Prendas area. We didn’t get there until post-dawn chorus so it wasn’t the most accurate of scouting bird surveys, BUT, we did get a taste of the area. Here is some delicious information along with some known and expected bird highlights:

  • Access is a bit of a challenge: If you go by vehicle, you will need one with four wheel drive; high clearance would also be good. Most of the road is alright but there are a few places where a small car would be stopped. Hiking or mountain biking would also work. During wet weather, the road past the place is probably inaccessible because of slippery clay that sticks to tires and tries to glide you right off the road.
  • Habitat: There is birdy second growth on parts of the road along with pastures and two rivers at the start of the road. Those rivers can be good for Fasciated Tiger-Heron and Sunbittern (we saw the heron). Closer to Prendas, there is nice rainforest near the road. The best habitat may be past Prendas, and since it’s connected to the forests of Braulio Carrillo, the area has a lot of potential.

    Good forest just uphill from Prendas.
  • Lowland species, some foothill birds possible: The habitats probably support most lowland species, and there could be foothill birds a bit further up the road. We had a fair variety of species despite spending just one morning in the area and missing the dawn chorus.

    Brown-capped Tyrannulet was one of the nice lowland birds we saw.
  • Trails: I’m not entirely sure but I think that Prendas has trails into the forest. I hope so because they could be good for antbirds, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, and who knows what else.
  • Green Ibis: We heard one near the rivers.
  • Crested Guan: Always a good sign.
  • King Vulture: Another good sign.
  • Hawk-eagles: We didn’t have any but I would expect all three in the area.
  • Tiny Hawk: We didn’t have this one either but it looks like a good area for this little raptor.
  • Night birds: Nope, we weren’t there at night but others have had Vermiculated Screech-Owl, Spectacled owl, Black and white Owl, and Great Potoo. All of the other lowland night birds should also be present.
  • Black-throated Trogon: Not an uncommon bird but always nice to see this one. We also had Gartered, and Slaty-tailed should be there too.
  • Bat Falcon: Saw a pair of those.
  • Brown-hooded Parrot: Nice looks at this one. We also had good looks at Mealy Parrot, Olive-throated Parakeet, and White-crowned Parrot.

    A Brown-hooded Parrot hanging from a branch.
  • Antbirds: Despite a sunny, late morning, we heard Chestnut-backed and Spotted Antbirds, and saw Checker-throated Antwren, and Streak-crowned Antvireo. Other ant-following birds should also be around.

    Male Streak-crowned Antvireo.
  • Black-striped Woodcreeper: A nice lowland bird to see. We also had Northern Barred, Wedge-billed, Cocoa, and Streak-headed.
  • White-ringed Flycatcher: It was nice to see some of these lowland canopy specialists.
  • Red-capped Manakin: A sign of good forest.
  • Shining Honeycreeper and Blue Dacnis: Expected but always nice to see. Although we didn’t connect with any mixed flocks, I bet some good ones occur around there.
    This is how Blue Dacnis is usually seen.

    We were surprised to see this female down in the grass!
  • Cowbirds: Not really exciting but interesting to find several Bronze, three Giants, and ten or so Shiny Cowbirds at a cattle trough. How are they affecting resident species? Especially the invasive Shiny? Actually, Bronzed should also be looked at as an invasive since it wouldn’t have occured when there was heavy forest and no cows.

    One of the many Shiny Cowbirds we saw.

To sum things up, the rough roads make birding a bit adventurous but time and effort should yield several quality species, especially further up the road.

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