bird finding in Costa Rica Birding Costa Rica

Nice Foothill Birding at El Cafecito

Costa Rica isn’t just known for being one of the top birding destinations on the planet. This small mountainous country is also known for producing some of the best beans in the world. Although anyone who has breakfasted in Costa Rica is aware of the central gastronomic role played by black beans, the leguminous varieties aren’t the “beans” I’m talking about. The beans of note up in here are the dark roasted, coveted ones. The special seeds that give forth an enticing marvelous aroma. They are the ones with caffeine, the beans that are of course used to make coffee.

And coffee in Costa Rica is no small matter. The coffee in my adopted country is so damn good, I never corrupt it with milk or sugar. I prefer it black and the aroma is so delicious, even drink it cold. It’s a heck of a smooth cup and this is one of the reasons why coffee tours are so popular. One of the sites for those tours is also excellent for birding. Located on the lower reaches of the Via Endemica, the aptly named “El Cafecito” offers access to some quality foothill forest, an overlook into a forested canyon, and some aquatic habitats that can host Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Sunbittern, and a few other birds that require aquatic habitats.

A Sunbittern from another day.

Being a fan of quality coffee and nice tropical birding, I was pleased to do some recent guiding at and near this little visited foothill site.

On the way there, a stop at Cinchona gave us both barbets, Northern Emerald Toucanet, and some other birds that relish bananas and papaya. The hummingbird action wasn’t as good as other days but still offered close views of the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald and some other species.

On the road to Cafecito, fruiting figs offered up some fine birding action. Tanagers such as Bay-headed, Silver-throated, Blue-gray, Palm, Scarlet-rumped, and Crimson-collared were joined by Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Golden-browed Chlorophonias, and other more common species. The action was non-stop, I wonder when a cotinga will make an appearance? Hopefully on Monday when me and the other member of Team Tyto drive by that spot.

Raptors were also in evidence, our best species being Barred Hawk, Laughing Falcon, and a sweet male Merlin giving admirable views.

Down at Cafecito, the birding was actually kind of slow. Nevertheless, we were still greeted by Yellow Tyrannulet, calling Band-backed Wrens, Crimson-collared Tanagers, and two female Black-crested Coquettes. Better yet, the coquettes foraged at very close range in the Porterweed that borders the main path!

Further down that path, things were much slower than I had expected but we still managed wonderful close looks at a male White-collared Manakin and a few other birds feeding in a fruiting tree. On previous visits, that same tree and adjacent area has turned up various tanagers, toucans, chachalacas, Crested Guan, and other species.

We left after lunch but if we had stayed there for the afternoon, I’m sure we would have found many more species. The habitat is there and easily accessed by a few short trails. Wait long enough and the birds eventually show. Expect a good selection of foothill species, maybe even some rare ones. Since this is an underbirded site, don’t be surprised if you find something good! If you don’t, the birding will still likely be easy-going, productive, and if a birder doth wish, can also be accompanied by some damn fine coffee.

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