In Costa Rica, avid birdwatchers have spotted an incredible 850 bird species – that’s 10% of the world’s total avian population!
To put that in perspective, Costa Rica is home to twice as many bird species as the U.S. and Canada combined – that’s double the species in a country 389 times smaller. It all adds up to spectacular birdwatching opportunities, with prized spottings of resplendent quetzals, scarlet macaws, keel-billed toucans, bare-necked umbrella birds, and about 50 species of hummingbirds.
Let's review some of the most famous and common species of birds found in Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica we have six species of toucan, and they can be found in all the country's habitats. They are also opportunistic and will eat frogs, lizards, insects, baby birds and eggs to supplement the fruits. Some of the best places to observe these birds are the Arenal Volcano area, the Manuel Antonio National Park, Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo, Limon.
Macaws are known as the giants of the parrot world. Brilliantly colored and impossible to miss while in flight, both the scarlet and great green macaws can be seen in parts of Costa Rica. Travelers in Costa Rica are more likely to see macaws when they're traveling on the Pacific Coast, particularly if they are visiting Corcovado National Park, Carara National Park, and Palo Verde National Park.
In Costa Rica, there are more than 50 species of hummingbirds, which are distributed throughout the country, mainly at medium and high elevations. And there are 2 species of hummingbirds that are ONLY found in Costa Rica! Awesome, right? They are the mangrove hummingbird, and the coppery-headed emerald.
Parrots and parakeets are widely distributed throughout Costa Rica. The scarlet macaw is found from the Central Pacific south to the Osa Peninsula. Parrots, macaws, and parkeets choose their mate for a lifetime and you can watch pairs of them sitting romantically together and grooming each other. In Costa Rica, quite a few parrot species thrive as long as they have tree cavities for nesting, enough fruiting and seeding trees where they can forage, and aren’t persecuted by people.
If there is a family of birds that are representative of Central America it is the motmots. This vibrant, beautiful bird originated here in Central America and radiated south. The most recognizable feature of motmots are their “racket” tails, resembling a badminton or tennis racket. They are often spotted in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Manuel Antonio National Park, Carara National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Santa Rosa National Park.
Costa Rica's Biodiversity: Other Fauna & Flora
In addition to birds, Costa Rica is also home to a staggering 10,000 species of plants and trees, 200 species of mammals, over 35,000 species of insects, 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles, and around 1,010 species of fresh and saltwater fish. Costa Rica really is a natural wonderland, isn't it?
That's why the country has implemented policies throughout the government to promote less destructive land use, conservation of the biodiversity, and formal protections for large parts of the region. Today, Costa Rica has over 27 national parks, in addition to dozens of other refuges, biological reserves and conservation regions.