Costa Rica

Diverse Bird Species to Spot in Costa Rica

May 09, 2023
Carolina Barrientos Carolina Barrientos
Diverse Bird Species to Spot in Costa Rica

If you’re planning a family vacation in Costa Rica, birdwatching is a great activity to include in your itinerary. Not only is it a great way to appreciate the country’s natural beauty, but it’s also a fun and educational activity for all ages. Kids will love spotting colorful toucans, hummingbirds, and parrots in their natural habitat and learning about the unique characteristics and behaviors of bird species in Costa Rica.  

Many of the best birdwatching spots in Costa Rica are national parks and protected areas, offering opportunities to explore the country’s rich wildlife while supporting conservation efforts. Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a beginner, many guided tours and birding packages are available that cater to families and provide a fun and educational experience for all.  

So, why not add birdwatching to your 10-day travel itinerary for a vacation in Costa Rica

What Does Birding in Costa Rica Look Like?  

For birdwatchers, Costa Rica offers a unique opportunity to observe some of the most beautiful and exotic bird species in their natural habitat. Birding in Costa Rica can be an incredible adventure for families, as many guided tours and birding packages are available, designed to cater to all ages and experience levels. Whether you are a seasoned birder or just a beginner, the lush forests, misty cloud forests, mangrove swamps, and other unique ecosystems provide ideal habitats to spot stunning and exotic wildlife in costa Rica.   

During a typical birding excursion in Costa Rica, you can expect to spot many colorful and remarkable species, such as toucans, parrots, trogons, motmots, and hummingbirds, among many others. In addition to birdwatching, many tours and packages may also include opportunities to learn about the local flora and fauna, cultural heritage, and conservation efforts in the region.  

So, if you’re planning a family vacation in Costa Rica, don’t miss the chance to experience the country’s incredible avian fauna and the many adventures that birdwatching tours offer!

Birds in Costa RIca

Best Places to Spot Birds in Costa Rica  

This Central American country is a paradise for birders, with abundant bird species and numerous habitats to explore. Here are some of the top destinations to spot birds in Costa Rica you must explore during your visit: 

  • Carara National Park – This park is located on the Pacific coast and is known for its scarlet macaws and many other bird species, like the American Pygmy Kingfisher and the Rufous-tailed Jacamar.
  • Nicoya Peninsula – This large peninsula in the northwest of the country offers diverse flora and fauna, including dry forests, mangroves, and wetlands, that support a variety of bird species like the White-throated Magpie-Jay, Pacific Screech-Owl, and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – This natural protected area is home to hundreds of bird species, including the Resplendent Quetzal, a striking bird with iridescent green and red feathers. 
  • Tortuguero National Park – Located on the Caribbean coast, this park is famous for its sea turtle nesting sites, but it’s also an excellent place for birdwatching, with over 300 species recorded. 
  • Corcovado National Park – The national park located on the Osa Peninsula is home to many rare and endangered bird species, such as the Harpy Eagle and the Yellow-billed Cotinga. 
  • La Selva Biological Station – This research station and reserve is located in the lowland rainforest of northern Costa Rica and is home to over 450 bird species, including toucans, macaws, and antbirds. 
  • Arenal Volcano Region – This region in north-central Costa Rica is home to Arenal Volcano, a stunning natural landmark with diverse flora and fauna and a great place for birdwatching, with opportunities to see species like the Keel-billed Toucan and the Montezuma Oropendola. 
  • Palo Verde National Park – Located in the northwestern part of the country, this park encompasses a variety of habitats, including wetlands, dry forests, and mangroves. It’s a great place to see water birds like herons, egrets, and ibises. 
  • Osa Peninsula – This rugged, remote peninsula in the southern part of the country is a birding hotspot, with over 400 species recorded. It’s mainly known for its macaws, including the endangered Great Green Macaw and the Scarlet Macaw. 
  • Manuel Antonio National Park – This park on the central Pacific coast is popular among tourists and birders for its pristine beaches, lush forests, and abundant wildlife, including over 350 bird species like toucans, parrots, and motmots.  
bird species

Beautiful Birds to Spot in Costa Rica 

Costa Rica is a natural paradise for birdwatchers and bird lovers with its incredible avian fauna. Here, we have compiled a list of the most beautiful and fascinating birds to spot in Costa Rica.  

  • Resplendent Quetzal: This iconic bird, with its iridescent green plumage and long tail feathers, was considered sacred by the ancient Aztec and Maya civilizations. 
  • Scarlet Macaw: Known for its vibrant red, blue, and yellow feathers, these large and charismatic parrots are a famous sight in the rainforests of the country. 
  • Toucan: With oversized, colorful beaks and distinctive calls, toucans are a favorite among birdwatchers and tourists. 
  • Hummingbird: With over 50 species of Costa Rica hummingbirds, these tiny birds are a common and delightful sight with their iridescent feathers and rapid wing beats. 
  • Brown Pelican: This large, long-necked bird with a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters is often seen gliding above the Pacific Ocean and diving into the water to catch fish. 
  • Blue-crowned Motmot: Recognizable by their distinctive blue crown and long, racket-shaped tail feathers, these birds are often found near streams and rivers in the rainforest. 
  • Great Green Macaw: This endangered bird, with its bright green feathers and red forehead, is found in only a few locations in the country, making it a rare and remarkable sighting for birdwatchers seeking to spot Macaw in Costa Rica. 
  • Oropendola: With their striking yellow tails and melodious calls, these birds are commonly seen and heard in the forests of the country. 
  • Keel-billed Toucan: Known for its rainbow-colored bill, the toucan species are found in the rainforests of Central and South America, including Costa Rica. 
  • Clay-colored Thrush: The national bird of Costa Rica, also known as the yigüirro, is a beloved symbol of the country’s rich biodiversity. With its striking brownish-gray plumage and melodious song, the yigüirro can be spotted and heard throughout the national parks and forests of this Central American paradise. 
  • Magnificent Frigatebird: This large seabird is a master of flight and spends most of its life soaring above the ocean, looking for food. The male bird species has a striking red throat pouch which they use to inflate during mating season to attract females. 
  • Green Honeycreeper: This small, bright-colored bird is a common sight in the rainforests of the country. The male bird species are bright green in color, while the females are more subdued olive green. They feed mainly on fruit and insects. 
  • White-throated Magpie-Jay: This bird is easily recognized by its striking blue and white plumage and long, curved tail. It is known for its loud, raucous call and can often be found in small groups on the trees. 
  • Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher: This bird is a sight to behold with its long, silky plumage and striking colors. It is found mainly in the highlands of the country and feeds on insects and fruit. 
  • Spectacled Owl: This large, nocturnal bird is easily recognized by the “spectacles” of feathers around its eyes. It is a skilled hunter and feeds mainly on rodents and other small mammals. It is often heard calling at night in the forests of the country.
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Indeed, Costa Rica is a perfect place to spend your vacation, especially if you’re a bird enthusiast. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich avian diversity, it’s a destination that offers something for everyone. From the highlands of Arenal to the lowland forests of the Osa Peninsula, birdwatching opportunities abound, allowing visitors to witness some of the most incredible bird species on the planet. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, the unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife in Costa Rica will make for an unforgettable experience.  

So, pack your binoculars and plan your next adventure to this remarkable country, where birds are sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. 

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