Birds of Costa Rica: the Large-footed Finch

By patrick on

If you are plan on doing any birdwatching in Costa Rica, spend a day in misty high elevation forests and you have a pretty good chance of seeing the Large-footed Finch. While some bird species seem to have names that have little to do with their appearance (such as Carmiol’s Tanager), the Large-footed Finch is one that certainly lives up to its name.

A Large-footed Finch in the highlands of Costa Rica.

This hefty finch is related to brush finches and towhees and shows it by scratching in the leaf litter when foraging for seeds and bugs. Indeed, one of the easier ways of finding this odd finch is by listening and looking for leaves being tossed around in the undergrowth. Its preference for the humid, dim understory can present challenges to getting good looks at it and makes it very difficult to get any photos as it forages.

However, these finches also frequently vocalize and will occasionally do so from prominent perches

A Large-footed Finch belts out its song from a perch in the highlands.

A Large-footed Finch singing


A rear view of the Large-footed Finch.

Another view of the Large-footed Finch. No other highland species in Costa Rica shows the combination of a yellowish green body with a dark gray head.

The Large-footed Finch is a regional endemic that only occurs in high elevation forests of Costa Rica and western Panama. In Costa Rica, look for it at such sites as Poas and Irazu National Parks, and on Cerro de la Muerte. While this interesting bird species is still fairly common, there are some recent indications that it has declined and even disappeared from a few sites where it formerly occurred.

The Large-footed Finch is one of the 500 plus species on the Costa Rica Bird Field Guide app. Download the lite version for free to see how this digital field guide can enrich your trip to Costa Rica.

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