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Costa Rica Birding Tours

Birding in Costa Rica is fun and fantastic but it’s always better with an experienced local guide. Whether taking a birding tour in Costa Rica or birding on your own, an experienced local guide may have knowledge of roosting owls, sites for various rare birds, local logistics, and other useful information that an active local birder is much more likely to know.

cabani's ground-sparrow

Such as where to find the endemic, local, and endangered Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow.

The combination of local birding knowledge and access to a variety of quality habitats makes it possible to see such mega birds as Resplendent Quetzal and Scarlet Macaw on day trips from the San Jose area. On day and short overnight night trips, literally hundreds of other species are also possible including birds like King Vulture, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, glittering hummingbirds and gorgeous tanagers. In fact, as long as you know where and how to look for them, many of these birds are much more accessible than one might expect.

blue-and-gold tanager

Maybe even Blue-and-gold Tanager!

To see these birds and more, I offer guiding customized to your birding needs as day trips and longer tours. A few of the better sites for day trips include:

  • Foothill rainforest at Quebrada Gonzalez and nearby sites–  Foothill rainforest birding with chances at forest raptors, Snowcap, antbirds, many tanagers, and several uncommon and rare species.
  • Highland habitats around Poas Volcano– An easy trip for seeing an excellent assortment of highland and middle elevation species (see below for a sample itinerary).
  • Rainforest and rare birds around Lands in Love Hotel, and other nearby sites.

To learn more about birding day trips, how to see your target birds, and longer birding trips in Costa Rica, contact me at [email protected]

Birding The Poas area



Learn about the Poas/Cinchona itinerary with a checklist for the area including abundance of birds based on several years of observations:

Cinchona-and-Poas 2021

Tour prices vary by site and itinerary. To learn more, please contact me at [email protected]

Please also visit my Flickr photostream to view images of Costa Rica birds you might see.


45 replies on “Costa Rica Birding Tours”

Hi again Patrick. I am thinking we will want to engage you for at least one and probably 2 one day tours when we are down your way Jan/Feb. A trip to your patch sounds very attractive as well as easy to manage logistically. We will be staying just outside of Cd Colon near el rodeo. I continue to gain a great value from your blog as well as your input on the other ones. Talk with you down the line. Mike

Hi Mike,

Thank you, I will be looking forward to that. Once you have dates set for your trip, let me know right away as I am already getting guiding requests for January and February. There is some nice birding around El Rodeo. A friend of mine has been urging me to check out a site in that area. I will blog about it when we check it out- might do that this week.

[…] list of desperately desired destinations. Lucky Patrick O’Donnell lives in Costa Rica and, as a guide, gets to enjoy the epic avifauna of that exquisite country. Luckily for us, he’s also a bird […]

Hi Mike,
we will be in Costa rica Nov. 20 to Dec. 4 .
We will be staying at the westin playa in Guanacaste ..
Do you tours for that area and which one would they be ?

Hi Mike,

We’re going to coming to Costa Rica in late March, staying the first two days in the San Jose area. Is there any chance we could make arrangements to go birding with you?

Sherrie Downing

@Sherrie- Since my wedding anniversary is around that time, I probably won’t be able to guide you but I might be able to set you up with someone else. I will contact you soon.

Hi Patrick,

I will be in CR from 5 sep until 10 sep, staying in San Jose, I am most interested in getting some great hummingbird pictures. I would probably need you for at least one, and possibly two day trips on either the 6th 7th or 8th.

I am in San Jose June 19-21 (depart June 22) and I would like to book the 2 day Carara Cero trip, or another days trip(s) if you have them scheduled. If you are not available any contacts would be helpful

Thank you

Estimado Pat
mis felicitaciones por su blog, me gusta mucho y aprendo enormemente de las aves de este país. Comentarle que tenemos una mini estación biológica, en el Pacífico Sur, y que estamos comenzando a hacer giras de aves por la zona. Somos biólogos españoles, que al igual que usted se enamoraron de costa Rica y decidieron quedarse. Mi compañero es herpetólogo, con más de 15 años de experiencia en las selvas tropicales, ha descrito más de 40 nuevas especies en Venezuela y viene dispuesto a continuar con su labor científica y docente en Costa Rica. Mi pasiones son las aves, mariposas, fauna marina, y el rescate de fauna silvestre. Igualmente adoro poder trabajar como educadora ambiental infantil siempre que puedo.
Reciba un cordial saludo, espero que podamos conocernos muy pronto.

Hi Patrick,
This might be a bit far in advance, but my husband and I are planning to visit CR in May 2014 (we’re from Texas). It will be our first visit, and we are very excited! We plan to mostly bird on our own, but would like to book at least one trip with you if possible. I understand that May is the beginning of the rainy season, but hopefully it will not be full on yet. This will be my husband’s first trip to the tropics, except for a trip to the Mexican cloud forest. I’ve been to Panama once, about 20 years ago. We’re both avid birders, and also love herps. How far in advance do you recommend finalizing our date(s) with you? I think we’d like to do your 2-day trip to Carara for sure. And possibly one of your other, 1-day trips as well.

@Dawn- Thanks for your interest in my tours. It’s fairly rainy in May but not too much to ruin birding. Finalizing dates within 4 months would be good. I will contact you by email.

We have rented a villa in Atenas February 16 to March 8 2014. We would like to book several day tours and possibly an overnight if required. My wife is a birder and I try to photograph what she sees. We have birded through much of Central and South America and did a nature tour of Costa Rica in 1998. Please indicate if you are available.

Hello Patrick,

My wife and I are planning our first Costa Rican trip to take place from 1/24/15 – 1/31/15. We will be staying at the Residence Inn San Jose Escazu. I am interested in the BRAULIO CARRILLO NATIONAL PARK and the HIGH ELEVATION ENDEMICS, so two full days and perhaps a 1/2-day or two additional, if possible.

Please email me as to your availability,

Gary Klue

We are planning a vacation to Costa Rica in August 2015 . My husband is an avid birder and would like to spend either several one day trips or a longer multi-day trip . I realize this is far in advance but would like to know where you guide. I have been to CR 2x before and we have traveled extensively in Central America and elsewhere so are mostly interested in non-touristy destinations for birding and elsewhere.
Thank you,

I am from the USA I am here and would like to do a bird walk! Can You help me plan this?


I am in Escazu

Hi I am going to have extra days in san jose, do you have daytours that originate and end at san jose hotel? Which means you would pick me up


We are a group of 4 birders (not experts) and we will be in San Jose for 2 days and would like to do a day-trip on January 14. Would that be possible, where would we go, and how much would it cost? We do not have our own transportation.
Thank you.

I am travelling to Costa Rica (guanacaste) for my birthday and honeymoon in August 2016. I would like to know how much a day in the local area for my partner and I. I would also be taking my camera with me and wiuld require transport. I know that is quite demanding and many thanks for your time reading this


hello patrick i am trying to plan a trip to costa rica in september looking at staying near matapalo i’m trying to plan a trip to drive across to la fortuna area, stay there the night, then head down to the san luis canopy place and i think the hummingbird gardens are around the same area, then stay a night in the area then on down to cerro lodge hopefully for two nights then back to our hotel in matapalo. i wanted to know do you do days out guiding from cerro area (meet at hotel) how much do they cost there are three of us not hard core birders so quantity rather than quality, also could you recommend any other places i should look at on our way round. thanks and best regards trace.


I’m looking for a bird guide for Costa Rica for a couple of days. The focus is photography and not bird count.
I’m staying with my wife and another couple
From November 8TH to the 13th.

My are staying in Playa Flamingo, west side of the island.

I mentioned to the wife that I want to get out for a day or two to get some good bird shots. I have a Canon 500mm F4 with a gimbal, tripod, flash bracket and better beamer. I shoot with the 5Dm3 and the 7Dm2.

Any suggestions where I can shoot in Costa Rica or where to find a guide for a day or two?
I’m looking for a guide in the Northwest area of Costa Rica. I contacted 1 guide, Johan Fernandez
but he lives 5 hours away.

Any suggestions?


Would you be available to bird El Tapir and Quebrada Gonzalez (for a fee of course)with my husband and I, the morning (half-day)of November 23, 2016?? We can be reached at [email protected]

Lisa and John Price

Had an awesome day birding with Pat near and in Parque Nacional Braulio Caarrilo at the end of January, 2017. An early start, but well worth it–a day trip out of San Jose. Pat is extremely knowledgeable and can find those birds! I highly recommend him. And a friendly guy to spend the day with.

Hi Pat
You sent an itinerary for my mother & I for this coming Feb or Mar. Unfortunately I have lost that entire Gmail Acct. Would you kindly sent it to my military email acct or to me new Gmail acct. [email protected]

many thanks
Sheryl Bly

I will be arriving with my family on the 21st of January.
Before we leave the area around Heredia, I was hoping I could book a private half day tour (1 person) to go to El Tapir, or elsewhere if you know where else to find a snowcap! I would need to be picked up from our Airbnb in Heredia on the morning of the 22nd of January. Please send me an email.

Hello Patrick,
enjoying your birding website! We’ll be visiting CR in early March and would like to see if you might be available for a tour of El Tapir for a day – most likely dates would be March 1 or March 14 ?

Erc Sandberg

I am going to be in San Jose for a 7 & 8th December and thinking one of the day will be good to see go birding.

It will be me (53) and my daughter (27) both very fit. will you be able to give me a price and the day? many thanks.

Mrs Trippier

Hi Pat, I’m in Costa Rica for 2 weeks, just arriving yesterday and in looking for birding information in the area we’re staying I ran across your website. Interesting to see that you are also into Kung Fu. I’m here to teach a week long Tai Chi and Qigong Retreat. I know it’s very last minute, but was wondering it you, or someone you know and recommend would be available to give us a birding tour. We will be in Cahuita until Wed. 1/3, then heading back to Alajuela to rest up before diving into our retreat.

I know it’s a long shot, but I thought I would reach out and if nothing else, thank you for your great blog posts and inspiring me to connect. We’ll be heading into the Cahuita Nat’l Park tomorrow morning for a day hike and then are planning an night hike tomorrow with a local guide.

Let me know if you are available for Tuesday or know someone in the area we should connect with.

Thank you!

We will be staying in Playa Flamingo April 18th – 26th, 2020. Do you do any birding tours around that area, or know anyone who does? We do not want to drive more than an hour each way to do a tour.

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