An Overview of the best Costa Rica birding

Costa Rica offers birders great birdwatching opportunities all 4 of the country’s eco-zones. Accordingly, this ranges from sea level on the Caribbean coast to the Central Highlands and volcanoes. Each area is a habitat for particular species, as seen below:

The Dry Northwest
This is the Guanacaste region which borders Nicaragua and the Parque Nacional Carara.  The Palo Verde National Park, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, Parque Nacional Guanacaste and the lower parts of Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja. These are all great places to view birds.

Expect to see: White-throated Magpie-jay, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Long-tailed Manakin and the Pacific Screech Owl.

The Highlands
This area runs through the middle of the country and 4 distinct mountain ranges. Great places to include: Turrialba, Arenal Volcano National Park, Poas Volcano National Park, San Gerardo de Dota.  Also the higher parts of Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo, and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Expect to see: the resplendent Quetzal, many hummingbirds, the Peg-billed Finch, and the Sooty Robin.

The Lowlands of the South Pacific
In Southern Costa Rica, the lowlands extend from Parque Nacional Carara all the way to western Panama, and the climate is tropical and wet.  Great places to include:  Parque Nacional Corcovado and the Carara National Park.

Expect to see: the Fiery-billed Aracari, the Turquoise Cotinga, the Riverside Wren, and the Spot-crowned Euphonia.

The Caribbean Lowlands
This is the largest eco-zone and includes the entire lowlands and foothills east of the mountains on the Caribbean East. Great places to include: the Parque Nacional Tortuguero, La Selva Biological Station, the Caño Negro area and the Cahuita National Park.

Expect to see: toucans, jacamars, puffbirds, antbirds and cotingas

Billy Johnson

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