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New house = new yard list of Costa Rican birds

After hectic times in December and January that included bus trips to Panama for a wedding in the middle of nowhere, getting passports for Miranda, and flying to snowy Niagara Falls (with Miranda suffering from the stomach flu on the way home as a bonus), we FINALLY moved into our new house. It’s near Alajuela in sunny Santa Barbara and most importantly, is closer to green space.

With the house at the edge of town and thus closer to coffee farms and patchy forest, I expect to get a nice house list going (I can’t truly call it a yard list because I am going to count whatever I hear or see from the house). Since we have a a pretty broad vista of the surrounding countryside, I hope the neighbors won’t mind too much when they see me looking out the window with binoculars as I try to identify some distant raptor, or using a scope to check out an interesting looking silhouette perched atop a distant tree.

Of course I started keeping track of birds as soon as I stepped off of the moving truck. Although I can’t recall what the first species was, here’s the list as of today (which also represents common birds in Costa Rica that one can expect):

Cattle Egret- As in most places in Costa Rica where there is some open areas, at least a few flyby each morning and evening.

Black Vulture- I have seen very few of this common species.

Turkey Vulture- Haven’t seen too many of these either.

Black-shouldered Kite- One appears to have taken up residence in the neighborhood. I sometimes see it in flight (looks like a gull except when it hovers) or perched at the top of a nearby Porro tree (Erythina sp.) with brilliant orange flowers.

Short-tailed Hawk- A pair of this common raptor appear to use the ravine.

Crested Caracara- I was kind of surprised to see one fly over.

Gray-necked Wood Rail- Heard a pair the other morning calling from a ravine across the road.

Red-billed Pigeon- No Rock Pigeons around here! These fat looking birds call from telephone wires and tree tops.

White-winged Dove- Actually far fewer than I had expected.

Inca Dove- Not too many of these either.

Common Ground Dove- Seems to be a few of these around.

White-tipped Dove- I have been hearing them call from the nearby coffee farms.

Crimson-fronted Parakeet- Just a few flyovers each day.

Blue and White Swallow- One of the most common birds here. There always seems to be a few in view or heard giving their scratchy vocalizations overhead.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird- I need to birdify the backyard to attract these and other hummingbirds.

Blue-crowned Motmot- I have heard one giving its double hoot from the ravine.

Hoffman’s Woodpecker- Very few around here.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia- I have heard a pair singing somewhere in the vicinity.

Great Kiskadee- A few of these personable flycatchers are around.

Boat-billed Flycatcher- A pair live in the ravine.

Social Flycatcher- I have heard a few.

Tropical Kingbird- Of course there are some of these guys around.

Brown Jay- A noisy flock moves through some nearby tall trees every morning and afternoon.

House Wren- Oh yeah, they live in Costa Rica and look and sound a lot like ones in North America.

Plain Wren- I hear these every day. Plain Wrens love coffee farms so much that they should be renamed the “Coffee Wren”.

Clay-colored Robin- Several of these around.

Tennessee Warbler- I have had a few.

Rufous-capped Warbler- Pretty common in the coffee farms.

Blue-gray Tanager- A few are around.

Flame-colored Tanager- I heard one calling yesterday from the ravine.

Montezuma Oropendola- There have been single flyovers and today I saw a veritable flock moving through the flowering Porro trees.

Great-tailed Grackle- Just a few (must be too far from the town plaza where they typically congregate).

Bronzed Cowbird- A few flybys. If you see some birds in flight that resemble winter finches, they are Bronzed Cowbirds.

Baltimore Oriole- A few are around.

Rufous-collared Sparrow- One of the most common bird species.

6 replies on “New house = new yard list of Costa Rican birds”

Congrats on the big move, Patrick. Hardly any Vultures and a good yard list so far. Sounds like a special spot. What is the elevation? How about posting a picture of the place? (while the paint is still fresh!)


No, not many vultures here which is perplexing. The elevation is about 1,400 feet. Yes, I hope to post a picture soon.

Congratulations on the new place, and the impressive yard list! Your yard list is better than my year list so far (1 lifer though – Merlin).

Hi Pat!
I lived for a few months very close to Santa Barbara, next to some coffee plantations so probably near your new home (congrats by the way). Birding was quite good, hope you’ll have fun. Also good access (when you feel you had enough central valley) to the Varablanca/Poas road, with great birding around as you know, also close to the Barva volcano access. Good luck buddy!

Thanks Eduardo and good to hear from you! Yes, I hope to bird a lot more in the Varablanca and Poas areas.
take care,

Hi Jonathon,

Congrats on the Merlin! Always a super cool bird to see- so feisty! Keep up the good work you are doing in the Midwest and hope to see you here sometime.


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