web analytics
Categories
Birding Costa Rica planning birding trip Costa Rica Where to see birds in Costa Rica Where to Watch Birds in Costa Rica and How to See Them Book

2024- Starting Another Year of Birding in Costa Rica

It’s early January, a good time to be birding in Costa Rica! At times, windy weather can be a challenge but when the gusts calm down, the kiskadees are calling, and parakeets are flying overhead.

Birding in Costa Rica
Crimson-fronted Parakeets are pretty common.

Oh, and there isn’t any freezing weather either. None of that breaking ice off the windshield or other regular January morning chores I used to do in WNY. Here in the tropics, it’s all sun and warmth.

The birds know it too; it’s why Baltimore Orioles, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and other migrants are calling and chipping from the mango trees. They share their temporary tropical space with Social Flycatchers, tanagers, Green-breasted Mangos, and literally hundreds of other bird species.

As with other places, us local birders in Costa Rica are eager to start the year with birds. January 1st is a new year list, another annual journey that could ascend to 600, maybe even 700 species. Our 2024 journey (my partner and me) began with some birding on the 1st but it was quite nearly a false start.

Too much wind had chased all of the birds into cover. On a short, afternoon stroll, we were lucky to find the few birds that we did. To make up for it, we went birding the following morning. Read on to hear about our year birds and how I’ve been getting a couple other things ready for the high season.

Year Birds so Far

To make a true start for 2024 birding, we went on a nearby jaunt to check a couple of reservoirs and see what else we could find. Stops in key open habitats, those reservoirs, and patches of dry forest turned up a nice suite of birds.

Highlights included an American Kestrel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Painted Bunting, and rafts of Lesser Scaup. A good start for another year of birding! Check out the trip report.

Images that stick with me are the small falcon battling the wind, it’s barred tail pumping up and down as it perched at the edge of an open field.

The Grasshopper Sparrow was a sharp tick note, dry as the low scrub it was perched in. This small waif of the weeds is an uncommon bird in Costa Rica. We were quite pleased to lay eyes on it, I wondered where it had spent its windswept summer? Distant fields in Kansas? The Dakotas?

Painted Bunting was actually expected. This beauty is a regular wintering bird in the dry habitats of Costa Rica. On Raptor Ridge, it’s as common as House Sparrows! This picture is from that wonderful and welcoming spot.

painted-bunting

It was also nice to see so many scaups, diving ducks that remind me of the waterfowl rafts I used to watch on the Niagara River. More speciose in the icy north but waaaay more cold too.

Expectations for Birding Braulio Carillo National Park

Soon, we’ll be birding at one of my all-time favorite spots. I was birding Quebrada Gonzalez long before any ranger station was present, when the trail was muddy and ended with a slippery descent.

Since those days, this birding hotspot has changed a fair bit. The trails have gravel and rangers are always present. However, you can’t go in during prime birding time and several species aren’t as common as they used to be.

It’s still good though, still just as exciting to visit as it was in 1992 (well, maybe it was a lot more exciting on that first visit!). What will we see? Impossible to say, this tropical forest is too complex to guess but we should see something good, I always do.

I can mention possibilities. Those would be birds like Ornate hawk-Eagle calling above the forest, Dull-mantled Antbird singing from the stream, peaceful notes of Black-headed Nightingale-thrush coming from the humid understory.

Hopefully, there’ll be the tanager flocks, always a chance of a Central American Sharpbill or some other rare bird. The best would be army ants, if that happens, we could see a Black-crowned Antpitta, even see a Rufous-vented ground-Cuckoo.

There could even be a Bushmaster. Well, there are but you rarely see them. Hardly ever although I did see one in 2018.

The Golden-winged Warbler is the ABA Bird of 2024!

It finally happened, one of the coolest little wood warblers was chosen to be the ABA bird of the year! So what does this have to do with Costa Rica?

Well, if you are headed to Costa Rica, you can expect to see this beautiful little bird. Here in Costa Rica, Golden-winged Warblers are much easier to see than in other parts of their range. During the winter months, seeing one or more in a day of birding is typical.

Yes, seriously! Go to the right places and you can expect the Golden-winged experience, even in parts of the Central Valley. See a group of warblers or other mixed flocks in the lowlands? How about a group of birds in middle elevations? Or even old second growth with lots of hanging dead leaves?

There should be a Golden-winged Warbler or two. Since they forage by inspecting dead leaves, their predator watching abilities are limited. It’s why you won’t see them away from mixed flocks. That dead leaf habit is also why they frequent older second growth with lots of vines and hanging dead stuff.

If you think you see a chickadee in Costa Rica, that was a Golden-winged Warbler! By the way, it’s Ok to feel like you saw a chickadee in Costa Rica. Golden-winged Warblers are very likely mimicking chickadees.

Editing my Bird Finding Book for Costa Rica

Lately, I have been editing my Costa Rica bird finding ebook. It was in greater need of edits than I had expected and I also took the chance to update the book’s Costa Rica bird list.

I’m also including links to eBird hotspots and a few other things to help readers maximize their Costa Rica birding experience. It’s not ready yet but I’m almost done, this third version will be available soon!

As a caveat, if you bought the second version and want the updated third version, please let me know. When it’s ready I’ll send it to you free of charge.

If you haven’t gotten this Costa Rica birding companion ebook, check it out. Please consider buying it to support this blog while getting the most up to date birding site guide for Costa Rica.

Cattle Tyrant and Other Updates for the Costa Rica Birding App

With the high season at hand, we also need to update the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app. Cattle Tyrant wasn’t just seen in Texas, in late 2023, we also had our country first!

This species was already included on the app as an expected bird for the country, now we can include as a seen bird! At the same time, I may add a few additional expected species for Costa Rica and make a couple other minor edits.

This birding app for Costa Rica will still have images for well over 900 species and vocalizations for 870 species. Although it’s still only available for IOS devices, we are working on making this customizable digital field guide available for Android devices too.

Are you headed to Costa Rica for birding? I hope so because check it out, the birding is fantastic as always. Happy birding, I hope to see you here!

4 replies on “2024- Starting Another Year of Birding in Costa Rica”

Hi Pat, I have your efinding book, can you send me the third edition when it’s ready? Thanks!

Pat I have bought your book a number of times to show support —how can I go about purchasing the 3rd edition?

@Mark- Thank you Mark, I appreciate that very much. If you have any questions about birding in Costa Rica, I’ll be happy to help, email me at [email protected]
I have sent you the 2024 edition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *