Costa Rica National Parks
Costa Rica is famous for its system of national parks and protected areas. There are 161 parks, reserves, wetlands, and other areas in the country that receive some form of protection.
The accessibility and infrastructure of these protected areas varies from popular, frequently visited parks such as Poas Volcano and Manuel Antonio to remote, trackless parks such as Barbilla and parts of la Amistad International Park.
The parks and protected areas in Costa Rica are generally the best places for birding in the country. Sites such as Amistad International Park, Poas National and Quetzal Park offer fairly easy access to excellent high elevation forest that offers the chance at seeing such exciting birds as:
Costa Rica Pygmy Owl
Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher
Collared Redstart, and other high elevation species.
Protected areas that are good for middle elevation birds include refuges and reserves in the Monteverde area, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, and Tapanti National Park. Among the many possibilities are such species as:
Golden-crowned Wabler, and other species.
The Caribbean slope is especially rich in birds and many other types of plants and wildlife. In the wet foothill zone, Quebrada Gonzalez Station in Braulio Carrillo National Park, Tenorio National Park, Pocosol Research Station, and Arenal National Park are great areas to see such localized species as:
Ornate Hawk Eagle
Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, and a good variety of bird species that require primary rainforest.
In the Caribbean lowlands, some of the best places for seeing birds of lowland
Rainforest include such private reserves as Tirimbina, OTS la Selva, the
excellent Hitoy Cerere Reserve (off the beaten track but some of the best
Caribbean lowland birding in Costa Rica), Laguna del Lagarto, and Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Expect bird species such as:
Great and Little Tinamous
Bat and Laughing Falcons
Black and White, and Crested Owls
Collared Aracari, tody-flycatchers, Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant, and many other species.
Over on the Pacific slope, good dry forest habitats can be accessed at Palo Verde, Santa Rosa, and Guanacaaste National Parks. These and other protected areas are good for dry forest specialties such as the
Double-striped Thick Knee
White-throated Magpie Jay
Blue Grosbeak, and others.
Further south, rare humid forests are protected in such excellent sites as Carara National Park, Baru Wildlife Refuge, Piedras Blancas National Park, and Corcovado National Park. These parks host many humid forest species such as:
Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins
Slaty-tailed and Black-throated Trogons
Purple-crowned Fairy, and such regional endemics as
Black-cheeked Ant Tanager
Two of the most important sites for wetlands are Palo Verde and Cano Negro National Parks. These bird rich areas are very good for seeing many wading birds, Pinnated Bittern, Northern Jacana, rails and crakes, kingfishers, Snail Kite, seedeaters, and other bird species.
All of the bird species mentioned above are featured on our
Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app