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bird finding in Costa Rica

News for Birding in Costa Rica, September, 2019

Not many birders visit Costa Rica in September. The 9th month of the year and October see minimal visits for birding. This is on account of the rain and because most birders coming to Costa Rica prefer to coincide their visit with home equaling freezing cold, ice rain or other challenging conditions. I can’t blame them, if I still lived in the northern temperate zone, I would probably do the same. But what about that rain? What about the birding during fall in Costa Rica? Is it really that wet?

Although it does rain more at this time of year, it doesn’t rain all of the time AND, on the Caribbean slope, it can actually be quite dry. Throw in some millions of migrating birds and now is as good a time as many to go birding in Costa Rica. The following is a bit of birding news for the next two months:

Aplomado Falcon Twitch

The juvenile Aplomado Falcon that has been living in the middle of San Isidro del General is the biggest twitch that Costa Rica has ever seen. Even though we have had very few twitches, this one would always take the cake. In Costa Rica, the Aplomado Falcon is a vagrant species that has typically occurred closer to Nicaragua and just for a day or two. This bird has been present much further south since July and a good percentage of local birders have made the trip to see and photograph it. As a bonus, the falcon has also acted as a bird ambassador of sorts with its human neighbors and will hopefully spur more interest in birds and birding in the General Valley. We have yet to go, I sure hope the bird stays long enough for us to feel like making that long drive over the mountains.

Rufous-crested Coquette Twitch!

I suppose the discovery of an adult male Rufous-crested Coquette shows that one good twitch deserves another. This rare vagrant also showed in the southern zone, this time near San Vito. Various birders have gone to see it, even a few that had already done the Aplomado Falcon trip! Unlike the falcon, this special little bird probably won’t stay that long, likely leaving after the trees it has been feeding on have stopped flowering. Since we already did a long trip to San Vito earlier this year, I doubt we will be trying for this one. Hopefully, we could get extremely lucky and find our own coquette and falcon. I’m sure that a few more of both species are in Costa Rica, especially the coquette.

San Vito is also one of the few places to see Crested Oropendola in Costa Rica.

More megas on the way

With fall migration taking place, more rare and vagrant species for Costa Rica are surely in-country now or will be here soon. As always, the challenge is finding them. There could be several skulking Conn. Warblers near any number of regular sites but if no one birds there, they will never be found even if they decide to do a wood-warbler waltz in the middle of the road. Luckily, we do have more people in the field these days and that will increase the chances of locating choice megas.

The First South Caribbean Bird Count!

I am so pleased this is happening as I have always hoped for a bird count during fall migration on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The migration is excellent, the resident birding is also excellent, and this little birded area always has a lot to offer. Sadly, I don’t see how I can participate in the count but I am happy that many other local birders will be counting birds on the first weekend of October.

A typical site near Manzanillo.


Major shorebird movements are happening in Costa Rica, mostly on the Pacific Coast but there are smaller numbers of birds that appear in estuaries and other bits of limited shorebird habitat on the shore of the Caribbean. The best shorebirding sites are the salt ponds at Punta Morales and Chomes but the birding can be likewise fantastic at Colorado, Ensenada, other sites in the Gulf of Nicoya, as well as near Parrita and any number of river mouths on the Pacific. Personally, I am hoping that we can get in at least one other trip to the Pacific Coast as well as a couple of trips to a couple of reservoirs to see if we can find Long-billed Dowitcher, Baird’s Sandpiper, and White-rumped Sandpiper.

Regarding places to visit, it’s hard to think of new sites that might stand out. The birding in Costa Rica is typically great and there are many many places to go birding. If I could make one suggestion, it would be to just get in as much birding time as you can in or near the largest areas of mature forest. These are the areas more likely to host populations of rare birds along with all of the common species along with lots of other wildlife. To learn more about where to go birding in Costa Rica, support this blog by purchasing my 700 page plus e-book, How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica. I hope to see you in the field!

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