Bird watching is one of the most popular ecotourism activities worldwide and Costa Rica is a favorite destination, like a top ten for those who love to watch birds in their natural habitat.
Counting its permanent residents and the seasonal visitors, this small country shelters a total of some 870 bird species. As a means of comparison, this is a greater variety of birds than what one could see in the United States and Canada combined, countries with a total surface equivalent to 383 times the size of Costa Rica.
In this small tropical country with such high bird population density one can enjoy several different ecosystems in the same day. This includes tropical rain forests, cloud or dry forests, coastlines, mountains, plains, mangroves or marshes, each with a different array of feathery residents.
What is needed for their observation?
To get started with this activity all you need is a pair of binoculars and a good dose of curiosity. Having an illustrated guide of the birds of the area will help you to better understand what it is that you are watching. If photography is your thing, a tripod and a good zoom lens will be very useful.
The ideal time is early in the morning when there is more wildlife activity. Another good time is immediately after a rain which can be even more magnificent if the sun comes out shortly after. This is when the birds will come out in search of light to dry their feathers and also to take advantage of the new food that fell from the trees or that came out from their underground hiding places.
How should one observe them?
Always silently, with slow movements and from a prudent distance. It is best to get settled in a comfortable place and to try to go unnoticed. Always wear clothes that are not brightly colored and can be camouflaged by the surrounding environment because bird’s eyes are very sensitive to colors. It is very helpful to erect a bird watching blind or camouflaged wall in front of you. Another key detail is to know how to listen because the songs are the first indicator of the birds location. If possible, go with a local guide.
Bird watching can be practiced everywhere, even in the garden of your home. Each ecosystem offers something special: The river banks have excellent visibility and variety, the forests on the other hand offer more interaction and sightings of exotic species, while the coastal areas are ideal for those who appreciate the grandeur of birds in flight.
In Guanacaste the more highly recommended sites are the Palo Verde National Park, The Biological Reserve of Lomas de Barbudal and the forests of the Tenorio and Rincon de la Vieja Volcanoes.
Other sites of great ornithological interest in Costa Rica are the Cerro de la Muerte located south of San Jose, the Carara National Park south of Puntarenas, the Caño Negro Biological Preserve near the border with Nicaragua, the Monteverde area which is northeast of San Jose and the Tortuguero area in the Caribbean zone.
What species of birds can you watch in Costa Rica?
The array is very ample including several species of falcons, hummingbirds, parrots, herons, macaws, ducks, hawks, kingfishers, caracaras, thrushes, woodpeckers, turkey hens, plovers, mot mots, turtledoves, seagulls, owls, storks, swifts, cardinals, toucans and trogons, among many others.
Allow yourself to be guided by your curiosity and be surprised by the natural art present in the shapes, colors and plumage of the Costa Rican avifauna and by the melodic concerts that fill the corners of our country with each sunrise.
Did you know?
Each year some 5 billion migratory birds pass through Costa Rica.