During one day of birding in Costa Rica, how many species can you find? The answer to that really depends on where and how you do your birding. For example, the current record for Costa Rica is 350 plus species; an incredible one day total for anywhere.
Identifying such an amazing bunch of birds was no simple feat. Local birding experts made it happen by visiting various habitats for nearly 24 hours.
At the lucky, extreme end of a non-stop birding Big Day in Costa Rica, I believe that even more are possible, 400 plus species. It would take stamina, focused skills, great fortune and other factors to fall into place but yes, it is a possibility.
That would be an incredible bunch of birds but they would come at a cost. It wouldn’t exactly be a day of rest. Birding would have to commence at midnight and wouldn’t end until late in the same calendar day. There would be literal running to and from sites while staying focused on birds the entire time. Really, there wouldn’t be much appreciation of birds either. It would be all about hearing as many as possible, maximizing the numbers to see how far you can bird to the limit.
That’s not the type of birding day most people would prefer and I would not recommend it for a birding trip to Costa Rica. You’d miss out on taking in the birds, enjoying them to the fullest. Instead, easier days of birding at various sites would be the ticket to happiness. The good thing is that even while birding like that, in Costa Rica, you can still see a heck of a lot of birds in one day.
Spend a full day in the field and you’ll probably see more than 100. Focus on birding in the right places and you’ll see and hear quite a few more. That’s how a recent day of guiding in the Poas-Cinchona area went. Out of 150 bird species identified, these were ten highlights:
We had a few raptors and probably would have had more if there was sunny weather. Even so, we still saw one of the rarer species possible in this area, the Great Black-Hawk.
In Costa Rica, this forest raptor has become pretty uncommon and only occurs in high quality habitat. We had one suddenly fly close overhead in good habitat at the edge of Braulio Carrillo National Park. I wonder what else lives around there…
In keeping with seeing this spectacular mega world bird in the Poas area, we had fantastic views of one or two males near the Volcan Restaurant. They probably move through that area on a daily basis but you gotta get there early.
We did just that and had the quetzal as one of our first birds of the day!
This uncommon hummingbird still shows at the Cinchona hummingbird cafe and is regular at the edge of Braulio Carrillo National Park. This square-headed local hummingbird is always a special one to see.
Any day with Fiery-throated Hummingbirds is a good day! They are common in the upper parts of the road to Poas National Park. Even if I rarely spot color on their throats, I always love seeing them.
Scintillant and Volcano Hummingbirds
The two smallest hummingbirds in Costa Rica are also regular on this route. Watching birds that look like glittering feathered bugs is a treasured, surreal experience.
How can you not love the name of this bird? It sounds like something from another planet. With the big pale blue, natural eyering bling, this ant bird sort of looks like something from another planet too.
But this is of course our place, our world full of fantastic, sacred biodiversity meant to be treasured.
One…two…three..four..five! Ha ha ha! Five nightingale-thrushes! I admit, two were heard only but we still “had” all of them; one with an orange bill, one with a black bill, another with a ruddy cap, a fourth with a slaty back, and a final one with a black head.
In the Virgen del Socorro area, these small beauties were out in force.
Poas is a good area for both silky-flycatchers. We had excellent looks at several of both species.
This hefty yellow and black grosbeak was singing and showing at a few different places. We had our first in the same spot as the quetzal, another beautiful bird to start a wonderful day of birding in Costa Rica.
When you can spend a day sharing birds in beautiful tropical surroundings with fun people, that unto itself is the best highlight of all. However, we also saw more birds than the ones mentioned above, birds throughout the day including three toucan species, Prong-billed Barbet, and more. See the whole list at my eBird trip report.
This was a great day of birding but to be honest, identifying that many species in a day atthose sites isn’t out of the question. If the weather cooperates, incredibly, that’s more or less the norm when birding Costa Rica.
To learn about all the best sites for birding in Costa Rica and what to expect, support this blog by purchasing “How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica”. I hope to see you here!