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Birding Costa Rica

Early November Highlights from Birding in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, November is a low season for birding. So few birders visit, some might even call it a “non season” for birding. But the visiting birder deficit belies how good the birding can be. In November, us local birders thrive on sightings of cuckoos, thrushes, and other migrants including hundreds of shorebirds. Although it can rain, it’s not usually for the entire day and the cloudy weather keeps the birds moving. Although very few birders visit this birdy country during the month of lead gray skies; the ones who do take a chance on Tiquicia in November enjoy a welcome blend of elbow room and wonderful birding.

I was reminded of those benefits during recent guiding followed by an additional morning of easy-going birding. These were a few highlights of mine and other birders in Costa Rica from the past week:

Three Days, 300 Plus Bird Species 

It was actually three and a half days but the count was still well over 300. My client is accustomed to watching a lot of birds and also understands better than anyone how hard it can be to see them (Yve Nagy Morrell put in the time and effort needed to get the highest total of bird species in the ABA region during her Big Year in 2017- quite the accomplishment!). That said, we saw so many birds (including several seriously choice species!), the birdless moments were minimal.

There are too many highlights from those three days of avian excitement to mention, some that come to mind are good looks at Hook-billed Kite, Snowcap, Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow, Spectacled and Black-and-white Owls a la Cope, King Vulture, Turquoise-browed Motmot, White-whiskered Puffbird, and Lesser Ground-Cuckoo to name a few.

Scarlet Macaws in the village of Tarcoles were also nice. This was one of around 90 species found around Tarcoles during a couple of hours that same afternoon! 

Roosting Owls

Thanks to Cope, we had wonderful looks at Crested and Spectacled Owls. A couple days later, thanks to the Bogarin brothers at the Bogarin Nature Trail, I had fantastic looks at another Spectacled Owl!

Cope’s Crested Owl 

Spectacled Owl from Bogarin

Quail-dove bonanza

I admit that might be pushing the description a bit but three species of quail-doves on three days of birding in Costa Rica is seriously, unusually good. The Buff-fronted at Cinchona made an appearance, Olive-backed walked across the trail at Quebrada Gonzalez, and we also had a beautiful surprise Ruddy stroll into view at the same site.

Keel-billed Motmot at the Bogarin Nature Trail

After my birdy days with Yve, the Bogarin Trail had Mary and I looking at an extremely cooperative Keel-billed Motmot. Although few migrant species appeared in our fields of view, we heard one Uniform Crake and enjoyed point blank looks at species visiting the feeder.

The usual Russet-naped Wood-Rail was also in the house at Bogarin.

More data on Unspotted Saw-whet Owls

As if the birds above weren’t enough, Ernesto Carman and crew have been tracking Unspotted Saw-whets in the high mountains and gathering valuable data about this rare, little known species! Now I know why it can take a while to find one during a night of cold, high mountain birding.

Return of the Rufous-crested Coquette

A Rufous-crested Coquette has once again made an appearance at Rancho Naturalista. Attesting to the welcoming, gracious character of this excellent birding lodge, the owners have invited any and all local Costa Rican birders to visit and see the coquette. They just ask for a donation to help with buying materials for bird education and workshops. I hope the mega stays long enough to see it this year!

If the past few days are any indication, November is a good time to visit Costa Rica for birding. There will probably be some rain to contend with but when it stops, the birds can come fast and furious! Coming to Costa Rica? I know some excellent tours available for good prices, contact me at information@birdingcraft.com to learn more!