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Bird Watching in Costa Rica

Bird watching in Costa Rica is an extraordinary experience.  With less than 0.03% of the planet’s surface, it hosts over 810 bird species – more than the United States and Canada combined.  This natural paradise offers great bird watching opportunities within relatively short distances, involving diverse habitats, from sea level to high mountains.

Birders in Costa Rica don’t need to go anywhere far from their hotels or even need binoculars to spot some of the most amazing bird species in the world, such as Toucans.  But exciting guided tours to wonderful locations can be a great opportunity to enjoy the best of birding and nature, where the sky is literally the limit.

One of the most diverse areas for birds in Costa Rica is the Arenal Volcano area.  Birds here are most active early in the morning and in the late afternoon as the day cools into evening.  Bird watchers in Costa Rica are most likely to see toucans, parrots, oropendolas, colorful tanagers and parakeets, as well as royal flycatchers, white-fronted nun birds, cinnamon woodpeckers and other less commonly seen species.

Other incredible bird watching spots in Costa Rica include the following:

Cerro de la Muerte: Don't miss the opportunity to see this spectacular bird, revered by the ancient Aztecs and Mayas. Serious bird-watchers won't want to leave Costa Rica without crossing this bird off their lists, and neophytes might be hooked for life after seeing one of these iridescent green wonders fly overhead, flashing its brilliant red breast and trailing 2-foot-long tail feathers.  The Cerro de la Muerte is a high mountain that passes along the way to San Isidro de El General, about 1 1/2 hours from San José.

Wilson Botanical Gardens: With more than 7,000 species of tropical plants and flowers, the trails and grounds of this beautiful research facility are fabulous for bird-watching. Hummingbirds and tanagers are particularly plentiful, and more than 350 different species of birds have been recorded here. Wilson Gardens is located about an hour outside the town of Golfito, Puntarenas.

Aviarios del Caribe: In just a few short years, Aviarios del Caribe has established itself as the prime bird-watching resort on the Caribbean. If it flies along this coast, chances are good that you'll spot it here; more than 330 species of birds have been spotted so far. Located on the Caribbean coast, Aviarios del Caribe is about a 3-hour drive from San José.

Parque del Este (San Rafael de Montes de Oca, San José): This San José park rambles through a collection of lawns, planted gardens, and harvested forest, but it also includes second-growth scrub and dense woodland. Oropendola and blue-crowned motmot are common species here.

Río Tempisque: Hike around the Palo Verde Biological Station, or take a boat trip down the Bebedero River. This area is an important breeding ground for gallinules, jacanas, and limpkins, and is a common habitat for numerous heron and kingfisher species. Palo Verde is about a 3 1/2-hour drive from San José.

Biological Station La Selva: With an excellent trail system through a variety of habitats, from dense primary rainforest to open pasturelands and cacao plantations, this is one of the finest places for bird-watching in Costa Rica. With such a variety of habitats, the number of species spotted runs to well over 300. La Selva is located just a few miles south of Puerto Viejo.

Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge: Caño Negro Lake and the Río Frío that feeds it are incredibly rich in wildlife and a major nesting and gathering site for aquatic bird species. These massive birds are getting less common in Costa Rica, but Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge is still one of the best places to spot one.

Carara National Park: Home to Costa Rica's largest population of scarlet macaws, Carara Biological Reserve is a special place for bird watching in Costa Rica. Macaws arrive like clockwork every morning and then head for the coastal mangroves around dusk. These daily migrations give birders a great chance to see these amazing birds in flight. The reserve is located about 2 hours from San José along the central Pacific coast.

Travel Agencies, after hours & weekends:
(506) 2257-4171

Toll Free:
Costa Rica: (506) 2233-5151
Fax: (506) 2233-5284
E-mail: [email protected]
*Rates are subject to change without previous notice, according to any tax changes or any government regulations.

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