Today, the main subject of birder talk revolves around the first species of the year. Whether checking off the first bird of a Big Year or just casually perusing the sticks in the backyard through a personal vapor trail of bird-friendly coffee, we can’t help but mention the first bird identified. Birders who count birds by ear will likely hear the call of a chickadee, House Sparrow or other backyard denizen, those who only like to watch might see a crow or Mourning Dove or White-winged Dove if you happen to be in Costa Rica.

In Costa Rica, the inaugural bird species of 2020 also depends on where one happens to start the birding year. For many of us local birders, we won’t begin the year in rainforest, instead we will hear the weird whistles of Great-tailed Grackles and other urban garden species of the Central Valley. However, it’s not all grackles and Great Kiskadees in the urban zone. If a birder lives near enough green space, quite a few other species are also possible. I began this morning with the calls of Rufous-naped Wrens heard outside the bedroom window followed by several other species from the front of the homestead.

The birds I saw and heard were expected and quite a few more have yet to make themselves known. I also keep looking because many other species are possible especially during the winter months. Will some uncommon wintering wood-warbler fly into view? Will a rare for Costa Rica Cooper’s Hawk stalk the riparian zone down the street? You have to keep looking, as the Urban Birder says, “Look up!”

Coming to Costa Rica? I hope so, my inaugural 2020 bird list may give an idea of what to expect when you get here:

Red-billed Pigeon
White-tipped Dove
White-winged Dove
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Hoffmann’s Woodpecker
White-fronted Parrot
Crimson-fronted Parakeet
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Blue-and-white Swallow
House Wren
Rufous-naped Wren
Cabanis’s Wren
Clay-colored Thrush
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Montezuma Oropendola
Baltimore Oriole
Melodious Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Summer Tanager
Grayish Saltator