The high season for birding in Costa Rica is just about over. Although birding in April is just as good, after March, few birders visit. That’s a shame because April is dry enough for lots of excellent birding and green space is filled with bird song. The lack of birders in April might have something to do with Spring migration kicking into gear up north but given the number of birds possible in Costa Rica, it might be better to save that migration focused birding for May.
If you find yourself headed to Costa Rica this April, you are in luck, because this is what might be happening in this neck of the woods!:
Based on a recent morning of guiding and other reports, the avian action is all good. Purple-throated Fruitcrows are showing well on the STR Trail and I have even heard this vocal cotinga from the entrance road. Given the large number of trees sadly felled during a violent wind storm, I can’t help but wonder if the uptick in fruitcrow encounters is related to birds moving further afield is they search of food. Whatever the explanation may be, they should continue to be easier to see in April.
Other good stuff at La Selva includes Agami Heron seen on small, forested streams, lots of White-ringed Flycatchers, Scaled Pigeon, and easy looks at Great Green Macaws.
The magical, mega bird we all want to see is in the house anywhere in the Costa Rican highlands. Well anywhere with forest and fruiting wild avocado trees. Thanks to heavy rains during much of 2018, this year’s avocado crop is a good one, there are lots of trees with quetzal food. As a bonus, those same trees can also attract Black Guans and other species.
April is a fantastic time for spring migration in Costa Rica. You know all those Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows, Eastern Kingbirds, and Chimney Swifts seen on their breeding grounds? A large percentage of them probably pass through Costa Rica, most in April. Watch thousands and thousands of these birds fly overhead in the Caribbean lowlands, and check trees, bushes, and forest for Scarlet Tanagers, Red-eyed Vireos, thrushes, and various warblers including Blackburnian, Canada, and even Ceruleans. Oh yeah, and try and count the thousands of Eastern Wood-Pewees too.
Foothill forest birding
I was at Quebrada Gonzalez and El Tapir the other day. Let me tell you, both sites have lots of fruiting trees. Maybe even more than could be consumed by the number of birds present! Tons of food are available and the birding will be good, maybe even throughout the day. I had good numbers of tanagers including one or two Blue-and-Golds, “singing” Yellow-eared Toucanet, and a few other choice species revealing their presence through song. Go birding at these and other foothill sites, it’s gonna be serious!
April kicks off with a concert where my friend Robert Dean is playing his new music. I really wish I was going! But, I can’t make it this weekend, hopefully I can during another one soon because bellbirds are calling and umbrellabird has been seen. Since the Monteverde area is also good for leaftossers, Azure-hooded Jay, and lots of other cool birds, consider yourself in luck if you are headed up to Monteverde in April.
Although waders could be placed under the migration category, such cool long distance species deserve their own slot. You might not visit Costa Rica for shorebirds, they might be the same ones seen up north, but for those who reside in Costa Rica, April is golden for the waders. Spring shorebirding in Costa Rica is fantastic, perhaps best in late April with constant movements of migrating birds and large numbers of everything from Semipalmated Sandpipers to Stilt Sandpipers and Wilson’s Phalaropes. It’s good, it’s exciting, and always worth birding sites like Punta Morales or Chomes or Ensenada, even if they are as hot as blazes. Hey, all the better reason to get an ice cream at a Pops in Liberia or especially that one on the highway between Chomes and Miramar.
April is going to be good, I hope you are on your way to Costa Rica! I can’t wait to see which migrants Mary and I find, I hope we kick up that year list endeavor as we scout and prepare ourselves for Global Big Day, 2019. If you are headed to Costa Rica, preparing for or planning a trip, or just feel like supporting this blog, please consider purchasing, How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica, a 700 plus page e-book with information on where to see birds in Costa Rica, how to find them, and how to identify them.
Hope to see you in Costa Rica, it’s closer and easier than you think!