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Birding Costa Rica

Christmas Bird Counts in Costa Rica for 2010-2011

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Joyous Christmas Counts! It’s that most wonderful time of year again and if Santa is a birder (and I bet he is), we better hope that he has the will power and determination of a stalking bittern or lists will be misplaced and gifts left unwrapped if he gives in to the temptation and casts his gift giving expedition aside to participate in all 11 of the Costa Rican Christmas Bird Counts.

A few are held on the same dates which of course means that those of us who don’t have a stable of ultra-dimensional, time-traveling reindeer won’t be able to appear in more than one place at the same time. So, you can’t do them all but there are still a bunch to choose from and even if you can only manage one, it is guaranteed to be one heck of a jolly time. Instead of examining the pine groves for owls and hoping to hear a lisp or two of a Golden-crowned Kinglet, how does counting kiskadees and searching for antbirds sound? Instead of marching across frozen, crunchy ground and wondering if you are experiencing frostbite while looking for that elusive flock of longspurs, you will be relishing the warm tropical weather and rehydrating with your drink of choice as Crimson-fronted Parakeets screech overhead. A bunch of those summer breeding birds from the north will be also hear to greet you and you will see so many Baltimore Orioles that might be tempted to (gasp!) think of them as trash birds.

It won’t be a white Christmas in Costa Rica but we certainly have an abundance of mistletoe and with luck, it will be fruiting and decorated with foraging Euphonias, Chlorophonias, and sparkling-plumaged tanagers.

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Decoration number one: Scrub Euphonia

Decoration number two: Golden-browed Cholorphonia

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Decoration number three: Spangle-cheeked Tanager

Christmas counts in Costa Rica are especially fun not only because the birding is downright heavenly, but also because they tend to be well organized, there are lots of local participants, you usually get a cool, birding tee-shirt at the end of the day, and most of all, you get the chance to bird some areas that would have been tough to access otherwise.

Family duties will keep me from participating in most of the counts, but I plan on making my way down to the Osa for the Bosque del Rio Tigre count (if I do, expect a post!), will probably do the Carara count, might get lucky enough to do the Veragua count, and especially hope to make it to the Maquenque count.

As far as I know, anyone can participate in the counts but you have to contact the respective count organizer to inquire about signing up (the following information can also be found at the website for the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica):

December 5th: Valle de Orosi/Tapantí: Contact: Marco Torres [email protected] Tel: 8347-6098

December 8th: Veragua. Contact: Daniel Torres [email protected]

December 17th: CATIE. Contact: Alejandra Martínez [email protected]

December 17th-19th: La Selva. Contact: Rodolfo Alvarado [email protected];

Orlando Vargas [email protected];

Joel Alvarado  [email protected]

December 21st: Teleféricos Atlántico (Rainforest Aerial Tram) Contact: cbc.cr@rainforestadventure.com Tel: 2257 5961, Ext 214

December 28th: Teleféricos Pacifico (Ranforest Aerial Tram Pacific) Contact: cbc.cr@rainforestadventure.com Tel: 2257 5961, Ext 214

December 28th: Carara: Contact: Johan Fernández [email protected]

December 28th: Parque Nacional Santa Rosa Contact Frank Joyce [email protected]; María Marta Chavarría
[email protected]

30th: Volcán Cacao Contact: Frank Joyce [email protected]; María Marta Chavarría [email protected]

January 8th: Maquenque. Contact: Dan Schneider [email protected]

Note: some of these counts are associated with the Audubon Society and some aren’t but all follow the same rules for counting and count circle dimensions. Hope to see you at one or two of these!

2 replies on “Christmas Bird Counts in Costa Rica for 2010-2011”

Thanks for the post, Patrick. Our schedule in CR doesn’t jive with any of those dates. You think they might have consulted us first! 🙂


Sorry to hear that Steve. I wish that the dates for the counts would have been published further in advance. I wont be able to do all of them but am planning on doing the Bosque del Rio Tigre, Carara, and Maquenque. I had really wanted to do the Veraguas and Aerial Tram count but I either just cant get away or am scheduled to guide on those dates.

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