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In Costa Rica, the dry season is over and so is the high season. We still see quite a few people visiting Costa Rica for a vacation but not nearly as many as the winter months. The cold, stark reasons for choosing February over May or June for a trip to Costa Rica are as obvious as a Scarlet Macaw but there are still plenty of things to do on a Costa Rican trip during the coming months. Here are some of the birding ideas:

  • Watch swifts: No, not Taylor, I mean those fast-flying aerialists that challenge our reaction times. Their fast schemes also make them a royal pain for identification, especially when they fly at speck height. During the wet season, they forage at storm fronts and much closer to home. It’s the best time to get good looks at swifts and come to grips with those challenging birds. Just a few days ago, I had Black and Chestnut-collared along with more regular White-collared and Vaux’s zipping over the house.

    This was one of the Chestnut-collared Swifts.

    Want to take a stab at identifying this one? I wondered if it might be a Black but the wings seem a bit short. It might even be a White-chinned but I can't say for sure- no field notes, just snapped off shots at anything in the sky.

  • Test out the umbrella: Yes, it does rain at this time of year but without the water, we wouldn’t have such high levels of biodiversity. In general, it’s also sunny in the morning and raining in the afternoon and that’s not so bad for birding. Actually, cloudier weather results in more bird activity in any case.
  • Enjoy resident species: Unlike the winter months, you don’t have to worry about glassing yet another Chestnut-sided Warbler when you want to see an antwren. There’s nothing wrong with looking at Chestnut-sidedes but that’s not usually why a birder goes to Costa Rica.

    You can watch Yellow-naped Parrots in action.

  • Study bird vocalizations: More species tend to vocalize, at least during May and June. It’s always better to hear more bird song and that makes it easier to find more bird species.Pocosol dawn3
  • Pay less for accommodation: You probably won’t get a huge discount, but yes, most lodging costs less during the green season.
  • Enjoy places with fewer tourists: I have never felt like this was an issue but if you want to see less people in national parks, come on down from May to November.

    I love birding an empty road...

  • Explore less visited sites: Sure, this can be done any time of the year but it’s always a good excuse to collect eBird data for little known sites. If inclined, try birding around Barbilla National Park, Hitoy Cerere, Yorkin, Las Tablas, Crucitas, Rincon de la Vieja, Barra Colorado, and sea-watching from Cabo Blanco and south of Golfito.
  • Get lots of lifers: You still have pretty much the same chances at resident species as during the high, dry season, and it might even be easier to see several species.

    You should see a Gartered Trogon or two.

  • Participate in the Global Big Day on May 9th: The Cornell Lab- based Sapsucker Team is doing a Big Day in Panama and are encouraging birders of all nations to get out there and do the same, or at least watch birds and submit the results to eBird. I plan on doing a Big Day with some friends on May 9th as well. Most of the winter birds will be gone but we should still see a lot!

I hope to do all of the above (although I would have to travel outside of Costa Rica to get a lot of lifers). Are you coming to Costa Rica during the low season? Get ready for the trip with my Costa Rica bird finding guide/companion, and the Costa Rica Birds field guide app.

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