Are you visiting Costa Rica and would like to go birding for a day or two to see a Resplendent Quetzal or Scarlet Macaw? How about birding in Costa Rica and seeing a King Vulture, Ornate Hawk-eagle, or glittering hummingbirds and gorgeous tanagers? All of these birds and many more are possible on birding day trips from San Jose and aren’t all that difficult to to see in Costa Rica….if you know where to find them.
Whether you go birding in Costa Rica on your own or with a guide, birding in Costa Rica is always exciting. Nevertheless, a local, knowledgeable guide will always be able to show you more, especially if he has stake-outs for species such as King Vulture, Black and White Owl, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Black-crowned Antpitta, Black and Yellow Tanager, and dozens of other birds that are tough to find when birding in Costa Rica. I know the best places to find these and many of Costa Rica’s bird species and would be happy to show you them on birding day trips in Costa Rica.
The main advantage of living in Costa Rica’s Central Valley is being within an hour or two drive of almost every habitat that Costa Rica has to offer. Although the Central Valley itself is heavily urbanized, the Scarlet Macaws and fantastic birding at Carara National Park are less than two hours away, the Resplendent Quetzal and endemics of the high Talamancas are about an hour and a half from San Jose, and the excellent, Caribbean foothill forests of Braulio Carrillo can be reached in less than an hour.
I offer one to three day tours to these and other sites. In addition to the following sample itineraries, I am available for guiding customized to your needs and target species.
Tour price varies by site and itinerary and does not include park entrance fees or meals. If using your rental vehicle, day trips from San Jose are $90 for 1-4 participants. If using my vehicle, day trips from San Jose are generally $130 to $140 for 1-4 participants.
Please visit my Flickr photostream to view images of Costa Rican birds you might see.
DAY TRIP TO FANTASTIC CARIBBEAN SLOPE FOOTHILL FORESTS OF QUEBRADA GONZALEZ, BRAULIO CARRILLO NATIONAL PARK
Only an hour’s drive from the city, the fantastic, Caribbean slope, foothill rain forests of Quebrada Gonzalez are the closest, most accessible rain forests to San Jose. This is also a good day trip to take while staying in the Sarapiqui (La Selva) area as it takes a bit less than an hour to get there and hosts a good number of bird species not found in the lowlands. The dense vegetation and a tall canopy of the rain forests at Quebrada Gonzalez can be tough to bird but always produce rare species difficult to see elsewhere. Some of the specialties that I frequently see at this site, (a spot I have been birding since 1993) include: King Vulture, Hawk-Eagles, other raptors, Crested Guan, Snowcap, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Black-crowned Antpitta, Russet Antshrike, White-ruffed Manakin, Nightingale Wren, Black-headed Nightingale Thrush, Pale-vented Thrush, and many tanager species that troop through the forest in large, mixed flocks.
DAY TRIP FOR HIGH ELEVATION ENDEMICS AND A VOLCANO
Looming over the Central Valley, Irazu Volcano is very close to San Jose. Only an hour’s drive from the city, the upper slopes of the volcano offer up excellent, high elevation birding. Often overlooked by birders visiting Costa Rica because high elevation forests are usually visited on Cerro de la Muerte, Irazu offers up most of the same suite of birds and is more suitable as a day trip as it is closer to San Jose. In addition to birds, visitors also get the chance to look into its immense crater. Although much of Irazu is used for agriculture, the good road that ascends the volcano provides access to patches of habitat that harbor a good variety of high elevation bird species. Acorn Woodpecker, Resplendent Quetzal, Ruddy Treerunner, Black-capped Flycatcher, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Sooty Robin, Zeledonia, Yellow-thighed Finch, and Flame-colored Tanager are a small sample of species likely to be seen when birding Irazu, Costa Rica. Irazu is also one of two easy, accessible sites to see Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren.
TWO DAY TOUR TO CARARA NATIONAL PARK FOR SOME OF THE BEST BIRDING IN CENTRAL AMERICA
Carara National Park and vicinity offers up some of the best birding in Central America due to its mix of lowland rain forest, dry forest, mangroves, and wetlands that provide habitat for an amazing array of bird species. More than one hundred bird species are typical for a day of birding around Carara (our group actually had 150 on the 2008 Christmas Count). A site less than two hours by car from San Jose, the two days we spend birding around Carara will be jam-packed with a wide variety of bird species. A short list of specialties frequently seen when birding Carara are: Great Tinamou, a variety of waterbirds, Crane Hawk and many other raptors, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Black and white Owl, Scarlet Macaw, Costa-Rican Swift, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Blue-throated Goldentail, Baird’s Trogon among 5 trogon species, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Spectacled Antpitta, Black-hooded Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Orange-collared Manakin, many flycatchers including Sulpher-rumped and Royal Flycatchers, Rufous-breasted Wren among 7-8 wren species, Mangrove Vireo, and more!
If you have any questions, or need information about where to see target species, please feel free to contact me at:
or by phone: 716-778-2091 (9-5 weekdays)
(Costa Rica number): 8318 33 29