Birding Costa Rica

Some Birding News for Costa Rica in November

It’s November, and it’s not exactly the high season for birding in Costa Rica but since it’s always good birding around here, count yourself lucky to be in Costa Rica right now. Yeah, sure, it rains most afternoons but it hasn’t been that bad, and there are some nice birds to see!

The biggest news has been the cooperative Rufous-crested Coquette at Rancho Naturalista. No, we don’t normally see this species in Costa Rica, and the only records are a few specimens from more than a century ago. Needless to say, if Costa Rica ever had a mega twitch, this is it!

It showed just before Halloween and as far as I know, this major lifer and/or country tick is still being seen today. A few dozen local serious birders have visited Rancho so far (many thanks to Rancho for welcoming everyone to come and see it), and most have had soul satisfying looks at the lost hummingbird as it shares a flower hedge with Black-crested Coquette and Snowcap. I haven’t been able to go there yet but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays for a while. A risky move for any twitch but with other responsibilities taking precedence, what are you gonna do? I hope the birding ball bounces my way but if not, at least lots of other local birders were able to add this local mega to their lists.


Not a mega Rufous-crested but a female Black-crested Coquette is still nice to see.

Since the bird showed at Rancho, a spot where people are carefully watching for birds every day, I can’t help but wonder how many others are around? By the laws of probability, there should be a few but since we are talking about a tiny bird that doesn’t sing and makes a living by being sneaky, we can’t really expect to find any (although we can keep looking!).

On another hummingbird front, I noticed that Snowcaps were also showing well at El Tapir this past weekend. They are usually there but not always. On Saturday, we had juveniles as well as adult males and females. In the woods, the birding was alright with some mixed flock activity hosting Streak-crowned Antvireo, and Checker-throated and White-flanked Antwrens, various tanagers, and vocal Scarlet-rumped Caciques. No luck with umbrellabird but there are probably a few in those woods. Up in the sky, raptors just weren’t there although we did get pretty nice looks at King Vulture.




The Scarlet-rumped Cacique is a rainforest blackbird species.

Over on the La Selva entrance road, the birding was good as always with Great Green Macaw, more than one calling Pied Puffbird (also seen), Plain-colored Tanager, and some other expected species. With the forest growing up there nicely, hopefully, we can expect an increasing number of more forest based species on that birdy little stretch.

At the Cinchona Colibri Cafe, the owners continue to add on to the place, this time including cement steps that lead down to a new feeding and birding area! Although we saw very few birds last week, it’s eventually going to be very good and is an improvement. I suspect that we saw no birds coming to the feeders (a first) because everything seems to be fruiting in the surrounding forests. Keep that in mind when birding on the Caribbean slope and just keep watching those fruiting trees for manakins, tanagers, euphonias, and rare species that may eventually show.


The new set up at the bottom of the steps. I should be checking it out again soon.

On the Pacific slope, the only recent birding I did was a day trip on the Puntarenas-Paquera ferry in search of year birds. To make a long story short, I managed one small flock of Red-necked Phalaropes (a sweet one for my Costa Rica year list, already had it in 2016 in Israel), but no other year birds and almost nothing else. There were a few Franklin’s Gulls and some Royal Terns but no storm-petrels, nor shearwaters, Sabine’s, nor even a Brown Booby! I eventually ran into Black Terns closer to Paquera and there were hundreds of them but I didn’t see anything else with them. It’s looking like I won’t get Brown Noddy, Bridled Tern nor a few other pelagics for the year but I’m still glad to have taken the ferry because the more data the better and you won’t see anything new if you don’t get out there and look.


Flock of Black Terns while Birding from the ferry.

Last but far from least, some raptors are still flying through on their way to South America. It won’t be going on for much longer but a few days ago, we were treated to hundreds of Swainson’s Hawks and Turkey Vultures flying over Rancho Magallanes near Chilamate. Over on the river, we got both Bare-throated and Fasciated Tiger-Heron but no luck with Sunbittern.


Happy birding!


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