Costa Rica National Parks

Fiery-throated HummingbirdCosta 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.

SnowcapThe 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.

Turquoise-browed MotmotThe 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:

Resplendent Quetzal
Costa Rica Pygmy Owl
Fiery-throated Hummingbird
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:
Resplendent Quetzal
Emerald Toucanet
Prong-billed Barbet
Violet Sabrewing
Coppery-headed Emerald
Immaculate Antbird
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
Lattice-tailed Trogon
Yellow-eared Toucanet
Dull-mantled Antbird
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
King Vulture
Black and White, and Crested Owls
Great Potoo
Red-lored Parrot
White-crowned Parrot
Olive-throated Parakeet
Rufous-tailed Jacamar
Keel-billed Toucan
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-fronted Parro
Orange-fronted Parakeet
White-winged Dove
Cinnamon Hummingbird
Black-headed Trogon
Turquoise-browed Motmot
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Rose-throated Becard
White-throated Magpie Jay
Banded Wren
White-lored Gnatcatcher
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:
Great Curassow
Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins
Black-mandibled Toucan
several woodcreepers
Slaty-tailed and Black-throated Trogons
Pale-billed Woodpecker
Blue-throated Goldentail
Purple-crowned Fairy
, and such regional endemics as
Fiery-billed Aracari
Charming Hummingbird
Baird’s Trogon
Golden-naped Woodpecker
Black-hooded Antshrike
Riverside Wren
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