Are you coming to Costa Rica for birding? If so, you are doing the right thing. If not, and you are ever so slightly inclined to appreciate the natural world, think about becoming a birder before you board that plane. Trust me, I’m doing you a favor because if you do end up catching the birding bug a week, year, or decade after a vacation in Costa Rica, the thought of being in a place where you can see multiple trogons, motmots, parrots, and literally hundreds of other exotic birds and NOT going birding just might make you sick. Save yourself from future regrets the size of Texas and try to do some birding when visiting Costa Rica.
Stop at the Cafe Colibri in Cinchona and check out the hummingbirds. Do the same thing at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and go on a rainforest hike with a naturalist guide who is also a birder. If you do end up using quality binoculars at some later point in life, the pre-birder regrets won’t be nearly as bad.
Now that I have made my public service announcement, whether you have already chosen the birding way or are an unrealized pre-birder, these two items could be of interest:
- A checklist of the birds of El Tapir and Quebrada Gonzalez with abundance– Yes, it also has information about a tour I give to that area but if that doesn’t interest you, no problem, please make use of the checklist. Please use it for inspiration to visit these excellent sites close to San Jose because every day trip will be worth it. By chance, this excellent site is the first place I went birding in Costa Rica (that was in 1992), and continues to be one of my favorites. I kept seeing new birds visit after visit, became intrigued as to why I was not seeing Black-crowned Antpittas hopping around the forest floor, and have witnessed some of the best mixed flocks I have ever seen in Costa Rica. On the checklist, note that most of the birds are uncommon or rare. This is the norm for these sites but means that a full day of birding usually turns up sightings of rare species, and several visits could turn up really tough ones like Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, the aforementioned antpitta (gnatpitta), Black-eared Wood-Quail, and other rarities.
- A checklist of the birds of Poas, Cinchona, and other sites down to 500 meters with abundance– Once again, if you don’t feel like learning about the usual day tour that often results in 100 plus species, just scroll down a few pages to the checklist at the end. Since it covers some moist habitats on the Pacific slope, and humid forest from 500 meters to 2,300 meters, it’s a pretty big list. Once again, with so many possibilities, and different habitats with different birds, the route really merits more than a day of birding. It’s also a very easy area to get in some birding on your first and last days in Costa Rica.
The bird species and information about abundance come from several years of personal observations at these sites as well as conversations with other guides and birders. Please feel free to download those pdfs and share them, I hope to see you while birding in Costa Rica.