Birdwatching in Costa Rica

Birdwatching in Costa Rica

Welcome to the ultimate guide to birdwatching in Costa Rica, a paradise for bird enthusiasts. With over 900 bird species, ranging from colorful toucans to majestic raptors, Costa Rica offers some of the best birdwatching opportunities in the world.
We'll explore from the most frequently encountered birds to the elusive and sought-after species. We'll share insider tips on the best locations and seasons for birdwatching, as well as fun facts and intriguing details about some of Costa Rica's most fascinating birds. 
So pack your binoculars, grab your camera, and let's embark on an exciting journey through the birding paradise that is Costa Rica!

Common Birds Found in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to a wide variety of bird species, some of which are very common and easy to spot. These include:
  • Clay-colored Thrush
  • Rufous-collared Sparrow
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Blue-gray Tanager
  • Social Flycatcher
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Melodious Blackbird
  • White-tailed Kite

Sought-After Birds in Costa Rica

There are also several bird species that are particularly sought-after by tourists visiting Costa Rica. These include:
  • Resplendent Quetzal
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Keel-billed Toucan
  • Three-wattled Bellbird
  • Snowy Cotinga
  • Lovely Cotinga
  • Bare-necked Umbrellabird
  • Harpy Eagle
  • Green Thorntail
  • White-crested Coquette

Challenging Birds to Spot

Costa Rica is also home to several bird species that are particularly challenging to spot, even for experienced birdwatchers. These include:
  • Unspotted Saw-whet Owl
  • Lanceolated Monklet
  • Gray-headed Piprites
  • Black-crowned Antpitta
  • Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo
  • Chiriqui Quail-Dove
  • Tawny-faced Quail
  • Ocellated Antbird
  • White-fronted Nunbird
  • Black-banded Woodcreeper

Best Season for Birdwatching in Costa Rica

The best time for birdwatching in Costa Rica is during the dry season, which runs from December to April. However, birding can be good year-round, and the rainy season (May to November) can also be a great time for birdwatching, especially in the early morning and late afternoon when bird activity is highest. The rainy season is also a great time to see migratory birds that come to Costa Rica during that time.

Top Birdwatching Spots in Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers several outstanding spots for birdwatching. Discover the country's top destinations for bird enthusiasts, ranging from dense rainforests to serene wetlands. Some of the best include:
Looking for the best places to stay for a birdwatching expedition? Check out this article for the top accommodations for bird lovers.

Fun Facts About Birds in Costa Rica

  • Scarlet Macaws: They mate for life, display affection by rubbing their beaks, and nest in tree cavities or cliff faces during breeding season, caring for their chicks until they are ready to leave the nest.
  • Montezuma Oropendolas: Another fascinating bird species found in Costa Rica. Montezuma oropendolas are known for their elaborate and intricate nests, which can be up to three feet long.
  • The Clay-colored Thrush: The national bird of Costa Rica! They are excellent singers and their beautiful songs are commonly heard throughout the country. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of habitats.
  • Great Kiskadee: They are highly vocal and their distinctive "Kis-ka-dee" calls are often heard in their range. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide variety of food and will aggressively defend their nesting sites.

Maximize Your Birdwatching Trip

Our top tip: Get local expert advice for an amazing birding trip to Costa Rica!
Local guides know the birds and their habitats like the back of their hand, so they can help you find specific species and navigate any challenges you may encounter. Plus, they can provide interesting insights and background info about the birds and their ecological roles in the region, making your experience more fulfilling and educational.
Choosing to work with local guides also means supporting sustainable tourism and conservation efforts in the area. These guides prioritize responsible tourism practices and conservation initiatives, so you can feel good knowing that you're contributing to the preservation of Costa Rica's natural beauty and biodiversity for future generations.
So, don't miss out on the chance to have an unforgettable birding experience in Costa Rica! Our travel consultants will provide all the information you need for an amazing trip. Contact us now to start planning!

FAQs About Birdwatching in Costa Rica

Is Costa Rica good for birdwatching? 

Absolutely! Costa Rica is a paradise for birdwatchers. With its diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity, it offers an incredible opportunity to spot a wide variety of bird species, including some rare and endemic ones. 

When can you see birds in Costa Rica?

Birdwatching in Costa Rica is a year-round activity. However, the dry season, from December to April, is generally considered the best time to go birding. During this period, you'll encounter a higher number of resident and migratory species. That said, the rainy season (May to November) has its own charm, as it brings out lush vegetation and nesting activities. Early morning and late afternoon are ideal times for birdwatching when bird activity is at its peak.

Where can I see birds in Costa Rica? 

Costa Rica offers numerous fantastic birdwatching spots throughout the country. Some popular locations include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Corcovado National Park, La Selva Biological Station, Arenal Volcano National Park, and Manuel Antonio National Park. These areas showcase a wide range of habitats, from cloud forests to coastal mangroves, providing excellent opportunities to spot diverse bird species.

Where can you see hummingbirds in Costa Rica?

Hummingbirds are a true delight to observe in Costa Rica. You can find them in various habitats, especially in regions with flowering plants and feeders. Some top spots for hummingbird sightings include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Savegre Valley in San Gerardo de Dota, and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. 

How many types of birds are there in Costa Rica? 

Costa Rica boasts an impressive bird count with over 900 species documented within its borders. These include a remarkable variety of tropical birds, migratory species, and numerous endemic birds found only in the region. 

What is the rarest bird in Costa Rica?

One of the rarest birds in Costa Rica is the magnificent and elusive Harpy Eagle. With its impressive size and unique appearance, the Harpy Eagle is a highly sought-after species among birdwatchers. Although sightings are extremely rare, they have been reported in remote areas such as Corcovado National Park and the Osa Peninsula. 

Are there toucans in Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is home to several species of toucans. These colorful and charismatic birds with their large, vibrant bills are a common sight in various parts of the country. 

Are there quetzals in Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is fortunate to have the magnificent resplendent quetzal within its borders. This stunning bird, known for its long, colorful tail feathers and vibrant plumage, can be found in the highland cloud forests of Costa Rica. Places like Monteverde and San Gerardo de Dota offer excellent opportunities to spot them.

What should I wear for birdwatching in Costa Rica?

It's important to wear comfortable and breathable clothing, such as lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants. It's also a good idea to wear a hat and sunscreen, as the sun can be intense in Costa Rica. Good walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended, as some birdwatching spots require hiking.

Can I go birdwatching on my own?

Yes, you can certainly go birdwatching on your own in Costa Rica. However, it's recommended to go with an experienced guide, as they can help you identify bird species and locate the best birdwatching spots. Going with a guide also increases your chances of spotting elusive or difficult-to-find bird species.
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