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Why I Like to Patronize the Cinchona Hummingbird Cafe

I like birding in Costa Rica just about every place I visit but I prefer to patronize some places over others. I like it when a place of business protects habitat, makes attempts to work in a manner that is sustainable with their surroundings, and of course offers the opportunity to see a variety of birds. It’s even better when you can get close looks and photos of uncommon species without having to pay a high admission fee. To me, such places are birder friendly because they make it easy for everyone to experience birds and not just the people who pay to take a tour or an entrance fee. One such place is the Cafe Colibri at Cinchona.

The Cafe Colibri is a fantastic, reliable place for getting good shots of Silver-throated Tanager.
A Green Hermit visiting one of the feeders.
This male Green Thorntail perched just off the balcony.

This gem of a site has been a classic hotspot for years and continues to act as a place where visiting birders can have a coffee and sample delicious country Tico fare while being entertained by the antics of Coppery-headed Emeralds, Violet Sabrewings, Emerald Toucanet, Prong-billed Barbet, and other choice species.

Emerald Toucanet striking a photogenic pose.
Common Bush Tanager and Prong-billed Barbets are regular visitors.
A Buff-throated Saltator at the feeder.Another look at the saltator.

What makes this place even more special is that the original cafe was destroyed in the 2009 Cinchona earthquake.

They have photos posted from Cinchona before and after the quake.

The family rebuilt on the same spot as the two story structure that used to play host to Crimson-collared Tanagers and Red-headed Barbets. Although the habitat isn’t as good as it used to be, the forest that was knocked down by the quake is growing back, is bringing in more birds, and should continue to improve with time. One of the owners told me that he has been seeing Red-headed Barbet more often and on recent visits, the feeders were buzzing with activity.

One of the feeders as seen from the balcony at the cafe.
One of the owners stocking the feeders. This guy loves to watch the birds that come in.
The main hummingbird feeders.

The cafe doesn’t charge for watching birds but do accept contributions. If you visit, please leave a hefty donation for the feeders and this bird loving family. It makes for a perfect lunch stop when driving the newly paved Varablanca- San Miguel road and plenty of other non-feeder birds can also show up. On recent visits, in addition to fine looking feeder birds, I also had Sooty-faced Finch, Chestnut-capped Brush Finch, Black-faced Solitaire, Keel-billed Toucan, White-crowned Parrot and other species.

A White-crowned Parrot eating a guava in the rain.

Other spots just down the road can turn up some nice mixed flocks, raptors, and who knows what else. The next time I visit, I hope I can bring them some material to help promote birding at the cafe. If anyone in the family has a mobile device, I will also give them a copy of the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app.

I saw this Bicolored Hawk down the road from Cinchona.
Poro trees have been in bloom near Cinchona and have been attracting lots of birds!

To visit the Cafe Colibri, watch for it on the east side of the main road between Varablanca and San Miguel (the road that goes by the La Paz Waterfall gardens). It is situated between the waterfall and Virgen del Socorro.

14 replies on “Why I Like to Patronize the Cinchona Hummingbird Cafe”

Pat, Thanks for a great opportunity at Cafe Colibri. I especially enjoyed seeing the Silver-throated Tanagers, Prong-billed Barbets and the Emerald Toucanets. And the great vista with waterfall with the intermittent lifting of fog.

Hello — We would like to patronize this place on our trip to CR next month. Is it difficult to find? (we will have our own car)

Best, Will
New York

@Will Y- It is not difficult to find as it is the only cafe and business along that part of the road. To find it, take the Varablanca-Cinchona-San Miguel road and watch for a small roadside diner on the eastern side of the road with a sign that says “Cafe Colibri”. It is located between Virgen del Socorro and the La Paz Waterfall.

Thanks Pat –we found it and it did not disappoint. In addition to great looks at Emerald Toucanet we had a dozen or so hummingbirds and it was the only place on our tour we saw coppery-headed, bronzy hermit, and white-bellied mountain gem. We continued up and around Sarapiqui (just birding around Google map areas of forests) en route to B. Carillo and then down to Orosi and Tapanti, which was slow birding on a very sunny day but with great rewards like CR Pygmy Owl at almost eye level and a few nice mixed flocks.

Me and my photographer partner were on a budget and your blog was enormously helpful. We wanted to support you in some indirect way so purchased the CR phone app, which was also extremely helpful but in future updates would be even better if you could include more vocalizations for antbirds and antpittas.

We pulled an ochraceous wren out of the dense forest by playing the call from our phone app and in the same manner got an orange-billed nightingale thrush to pop up out of a coffee plantation.

Keep up the good work. We can’t wait to return to the pacific slope.
Yrs, Will

@Will- Glad to hear that the blog helped you out. Thanks for purchasing the app and glad to hear that it was likewise helpful. We hope to put out an update soon with more vocalizations and species.

What a great write-up! We plan on being there for an hour or so before hitting La Paz…. and yes – on that note – is La Paz really worth seeing – just once? We are far from touristy people – but I love hummingbirds to death!!! So in our first 5 days this trip (second in 2 years) I really wanted to hit as many “hot spots” enroute to the far even less touristy Nicoya Peninsula… We are going to be at Catarata del Toro, then stopping in here at Cinchona, head to La Paz before calling it a night, then down to Monteverde.. Any help and opinions would be much appreciated! Thank you.

Oh! Also – it being a café I imagine it has some types of food? We planned on being at La Paz for maybe 1-4 then heading to Cinchona after that, before heading to our lodging for the night!

@Sue- Well, since you will also be visiting Catarata del Toro, maybe not because you will see the same hummingbirds there. La Paz also has a few nice trails but most people go there to see the animal exhibits- pretty much a zoo although the animals are ones that were confiscated and/or rehabbed. Cafe Colibri does serve good, tasty local country fare- definitely recommended.

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