The Best Places to See Birds in Costa Rica

By patrick on

With more than 900 species identified in a country the size of West Virginia, it’s easy to see why Costa Rica is on the bucket list for every birder. However, even though you can see plenty of hummingbirds, tanagers, toucans, and other birds at many places in the country, some sites stand out for the numbers and variety of birds that can be seen. The following are five of the best places to easily see hundreds of colorful and exotic birds:

  • Carara National Park: This hotspot is always a good bet for birds along with monkeys, frogs, and other tropical wildlife. The stunning Scarlet Macaw is arguably the star of the show at this location but you will also encounter am array of beautiful trogons, manakins, wrens, the Great Tinamou, and many other birds.

    A Scarlet Macaw from Carara.

  • The Dota Valley and Cerro de la Muerte: After enduring the heat of Carara, the highlands offer respite in the form of cool temperatures and the incredible Resplendent Quetzal. Other birds include such beauties as the Flame-colored Tanager, Acorn Woodpecker, and Collared Redstart.

    Resplendent Quetzal.

  • Monteverde: The cloud forests of this global ecotourism hotspot have long been famous for birds and other tropical wildlife. Guides are happy to show visitors quetzals and other species that live in the forest.
  • Tortuguero National Park: The rainforests in this big, wild national park are an excellent place for birding. Most of the birding and wildlife observation is done from the comfort (relatively speaking) of small boats that ply the forested canals of the park.

    Gartered Trogons are common in many parts of Costa Rica.

  • Sarapiqui: This is the name of a region in northern Costa Rica that has become synonymous with ecotourism, scientific research, and birding. Most birders visit the La Selva biological research station (only possible with one of their official tours), but other birding opportunities are also abundant on the grounds of El Gavilan, Selva Verde, and other hotels. Fantastic bird photography is also possible at the Nature Pavilion.

    Black-cheeked Woodpeckers are regular at the Nature Pavilion..

    as are close looks at the stunning Green Honeycreeper!

There are of course many other sites for seeing birds in Costa Rica. Just bring binoculars and take a look around hotel gardens and other natural sites. You might be surprised as what you find! Use the Costa Rica Birds field guide app to prepare for a birding trip to Costa Rica and identify the birds you see.

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