Plan a birding trip to Costa Rica now? Isn’t it still the high season? Why start thinking about visiting Costa Rica for birding now when you probably won’t visit Costa Rica until 2024? Valid concerns but just as its worth listening to the tremulous dawn song of a tinamou, it might also be worth it to hear me out.
The Great Tinamou has a mystical, whistled song. You’ll probably hear it and might see one while birding in Costa Rica.
The High Season Gets Busy and Booked Far in Advance
First and foremost, even though 2024 is a long ways off, in terms of hotel reservations, the next high season is just around the corner. I know, it’s crazy but that’s how reservations roll for popular global destinations like Costa Rica. In 2022, Costa Rica registered well over 2 million tourists. I bet this year even more flew to these beautiful shores and next year, the numbers will go up.
A lot of birders will be visiting on tours, some on their own, and many will want to stay at various birding hotspots. There’s only so much space and you can bet that a lot of rooms are already being blocked and booked by agencies and tour companies, even into 2025. Based on years of experience, if you want to do your own birding trip and are set on staying at the popular spots, I suggest picking dates ASAP and making those reservations now.
There’s a Heck of a Lot of Birds- More Time Studying Translates to a Better Birding Trip
Another major advantage of starting to plan a trip to Costa Rica today is giving yourself plenty of time to study for what’s in store. No, seriously, birding in Costa Rica won’t be anything like birding at your local refuge. For example, as I write, I know for a fact that there are at least 500 bird species (and probably more) living within two hour’s drive from my home.
Check out the tanagers in Costa Rica to get psyched about your trip!
Yes, that many, including trogons, Resplendent Quetzals in nearby mountains, flocks of glittering tanagers, dozens of hummingbirds, and lots more. Trust me, with such a big avian treasure trove waiting to be seen, it will be worth your while to study for birding in this major birdy place, the more the better. When I say “studying”, although that could mean trying to learn field marks for hundreds of bird species, it could also just be reading the must have “The Birds of Costa Rica” by Garrigues and Dean, and checking out images and sounds for common species on a complete birding app for Costa Rica.
Costa Rica- a Small Country with the Birding Options of a Continent
Costa Rica might also be a small place but don’t be fooled. This country is a complex place where the driving is naturally slow (it’s mountainous), and there are several hundred bird species, many of which only live at certain elevations and in certain regions.
If you had all the time in the world, yes, you could stay for a couple months and try and see everything but since most of us vacation for a couple of weeks, we have to figure out exactly where we want to go. Costa Rica has more options than you think. There is tropical dry forest where Turquoise-browed Motmots perch on fence posts, rainforests replete with tinamous, antbirds, and woodcreepers, and high mountains beckon with the calls and views of a bunch of endemics shared with western Panama. Then there are other endemics restricted to southern Costa Rica, specialties of the northern marshes, the seriously underbirded, fantastic birding south of Limon, and more…
The Fiery-throated Hummingbird- one of those cool montane endemics.
There’s a lot to consider, I suggest picking out some favorite target birds and working the trip around that (contact me, I’m here to help). My 900 plus page bird finding book for Costa Rica will also help you get an idea of possible birding routes in Costa Rica, and what to expect at popular places as well as the better birding sites located off the regular beaten track.
You Just Might Want to Visit Costa Rica Sooner than 2024
Who says you have to wait until the high season to go birding in Costa Rica? This place is off the cuff for birds all year long and the ones you want to see the most might even be easier during the so-called “off season”. Yep, although you’ll see lots of birds any month of the year, I believe that the best birding in Costa Rica might be from April to July. This is when a lot of birds are breeding and the cloudy weather also boosts bird activity.
Yes, it will rain more but guess what? If I had to choose between birding with occasional rain, and birding in Costa Rica in dry and sunny weather, I would choose that cloudy day every single time. The birds are way more active on cloudy days with occasional rain, and in the high season, the Caribbean slope sees a lot of rain anyways.
You might have better chances at the Buff-fronted Quail-Dove.
Other benefits of visiting Costa Rica during the next few months are probable lower prices for accommodation, more ample options for reservations, and still seeing lots of birds.
If you are hoping to visit Costa Rica next year or sooner, start planning now. You’ll have a better trip experiencing the avian delights in one of the top birding hotspots on the planet.
2 replies on “4 Good Reasons to Start Planning a Birding Trip to Costa Rica Now”
Hi Pat, great blog. I’ve been living and birding in CR for about a year and a half now so reaching a point where adding lifers is becoming more challenging. You seem like a great resource, would you be amenable to answering the occasional emailed question to help point me in the right direction? The “contact me” link in this post appears broken, but I’m hoping this message reaches you. Looking forward to hearing from you, with thanks in advance — D
@Denis- sure, email me at [email protected]