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Birding Costa Rica

Costa Rica ranked as the best holiday travel destination by three travel agencies

Three American travel agencies recently decided that Costa Rica was the best destination for vacationing during the Christmas/New Year holidays.  When asked by CNN to give their top choice for end of the year travel, StudentUniverse, Smarter Travel, and Student Travel Agency all named Costa Rica as their number one spot for travel during the waning days of 2010 and early 2011. By the names of the agencies, they appear to cater to a younger or more adventurous crowd. With the heavy emphasis placed on adventure tourism by the Costa Rican Toursim Industry, it comes as no surprise that these agencies would choose Costa Rica. The stable government, good infrastructure, and combination of volcanoes, mountains, and beaches in a small area along with abundant opportunities to zip-line through the canopy of tropical forests, rappel down tropical waterfalls, go surfing, horseback-riding, or on guided hikes through rain forests makes Costa Rica a tempting destination for active, adventurous travelers.

The Costa Rican Institute for Travel sometimes seems to be so focused on such “pseudo-adventure travel activities” that one might wonder what role ecotourism, the foundation of the Costa Rican travel and tourism industry, still plays in Costa Rica. Despite the fact that the word “canopy” in Costa Rica has become more associated with “zip-lining” through the upper reaches of the forest than the forest frontier with the highest degree of biodiversity, ecotourism is live and well in this small country so jam-packed with life. There are still a large number of reserves and protected areas, knowledgeable guides for birding (ahem) and otherwise, and conservation efforts to preserve and restore biodiversity.

As far as birding in Costa Rica goes, I don’t think there has ever been a time when there was so much information available to adequately plan a successfull birding trip to Costa Rica. Lawson did a great job with the most recent and up to date bird-finding guide for the country, the Garrigues and Dean field guide is an excellent update to (the still useful) Stiles and Skutch, and there are innumerable trip reports available online. Also, don’t forget to keep watching this blog for continued updates and information about birding in Costa Rica and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help in planning a trip or would like quality guiding to enhance your trip. Furthermore, don’t be surprised to see one or two exciting new birding products on this blog during 2011 that will enhance your Costa Rican birding experience.

This post doesn’t describe any recent birding in Costa Rica because I am spending Turkey Day with family in Niagara Falls, NY. There are a lot of gulls here (saw an adult Lesser Black-backed the other day) and that has been nice but I am eager to return to the land of quetzals, wrens, and zeledonias, am more than ready to test my new recording equipment on the dawn chorus at Carara, search out Lanceolated Monklets, Unspotted Saw-Whet Owls, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, and other mysterious, little known species, and just hang out with Blue-gray Tanagers. The dry season will be kicking into gear, birdsong will pick up shortly thereafter, Christmas Counts are coming, and the birding will be as exciting as it always is in the neotropical wonderland known as Costa Rica.

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