Birding in Costa Rica soon? Already looking at Snowcaps
and Speckled Tanagers?
Want to look at these and hundreds of other birds? If you nodded or thought “yes” for any of the questions above, this blog post is for you. Check out these tips and news items for birding Costa Rica in July, 2019.
Expect at least some. Although a short dry season often occurs during July, we may have already experienced those sunny days in late June. It’s going to rain and maybe even a lot but that won’t ruin any birding trip to Costa Rica in July. Quite the contrary, occasional rain and cloudy weather are better for prolonged bird activity than the hot, sunny, cicada days of the dry season.
If it does pour down a deluge for hours, don’t ford any streams and be careful with flooding. A few of the areas more prone to excess water are Upala, Parrita, some sites near Ciudad Neily, and other flat areas adjacent to rivers (aka floodplains…). During lashing bouts of very heavy rains, it’s also a good idea to avoid driving route 32; landslides are typical on this mountain road.
This enigmatic, odd bird of a bird visits Costa Rica every year during the wet season and at least one was recently seen in the Monteverde area. Difficulties in detection make it impossible to give an accurate estimate of the number of Oilbirds that come to Costa Rica but good places to look are the cloud forests of Monteverde (the best place- take guided night hikes in the Monteverde Refuge), and high elevation forests in the Talamancas. They have also been seen on Irazu.
This mega, crow-sized cotinga is always rare and difficult to see but it might be slightly easier in July. I saw one in June and others have been seen in the Pocosol area of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, and at Arenal Observatory Lodge. These sightings are probably of birds moving into foothill forests after breeding at higher elevations. Bird the foothill zone and keep umbrellabirds in mind at fruiting trees and when encountering groups of toucans and other large birds.
I think birding from the ferry is always worth the ride and especially so during the rainy season. It’s easy to do and despite the constant barrage of silly dance music on the boat back to Puntarenas, birdwise, it’s always interesting. Don’t expect a lot but keep watching, you might see storm-petrels, some odd rarity, or a Brown Noddy (as Mary and I did a couple of weeks ago).
Where to go birding in Costa Rica
It’s hard to say which sites are best right now because the birding is great all year long wherever good habitat occurs. However, a birder can’t go wrong with these suggestions:
Dry forest sites– Visit sites from Carara to Guanacaste in July and you might wonder about the “dry” in tropical dry forest. Everything is wet and green and the birds are singing and this is why it’s such a fun time for visiting this important habitat. Although there is more vegetation to hide the birds, frequent song can still make them easier to find and the birding can be good all day long. Another bonus of dry forest birding right now is that most species can also be found along any number of roads that pass through a patchwork of forest and farms. Those would be birds like Crested Bobwhite, Turquoise-browed Motmot, White-necked Puffbird, Yellow-naped Parrot, White-throated Magpie-Jay, and many others.
The best sites are places like Santa Rosa National Park, Horizontes, and any number of roads that pass through patches of dry forest.
Rincon de la Vieja– An excellent site at any time, July might be the best month to visit this wonderful park. There isn’t as much wind, uncommon Rusty and Botteri’s Sparrows are easier to find, and the same bunch of excellent bird species are just as present now as other months.
Foothill rainforest sites– See Bare-necked Umbrellabird… Along with that species, now can also be a great time to find Yellow-eared Toucanet, White-crowned Manakin, more tanagers, and lots of other species hanging in the foothill zone.
It depends on how you want to bird– As with any place, what you see depends on how you want to watch birds, what you want to see. For example, birders who would rather relax with tanagers and toucans at a lodge can do just that at any number of places. Birders who want to see as many birds as possible and don’t mind hiking in rainforest can do that at Tirimbina, Curi-Cancha, and various other parks and reserves. No matter how you want to bird or what you would like to see, the information in How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica can help. Purchase this book to get the most comprehensive information about finding birds in Costa Rica while also supporting this blog.
Forget the mid-summer birding doldrums, July birding in Costa Rica is great! I hope to see you here.