Twelve Fantastic Birds Only Found in Costa Rica and Panama

By patrick on

Costa Rica and Panama- both have lists of over 900 species of birds. What? That many? Yep, small countries, big bird lists, and incredible biodiversity. Several factors account for all of that life, huge amounts of rain and stable warm weather being two of the most important. However, mountains also play a big role and that’s where you find most of the 70 plus species that only occur in Costa Rica and Panama. These are twelve of those choice target bird:

Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher

A long name for a long-tailed bird, this elegant beauty is fairly common in high elevation habitats. If you have birded in the American southwest, think of it as a colorful Phainopepla that sounds like a cricket.


Black and Yellow Silky-Flycatcher

This is the other silky-flycatcher in Costa Rica and Panama. Also fairly common but a bit more skulky than the Long-tailed. This bird with the oriole/tanager/cotinga appearance likes to sit back in a bush full of berries and get fat.


Black Guan

This arboreal, turkey-like bird is locally common in protected areas. Watch for it around Monteverde, Poas, Bosque de la Paz, Tapanti, and, in Panama, around Volcan Baru.


Baird’s Trogon

This seriously colorful trogon can be seen in rainforest from Carara south to western Panama. Get the scope on this one for an eye-blazing experience.


Collared Redstart

Since this bird sometimes follows people when they hike through high elevation forest, it has been referred to as the “amigo del hombre”. Given its appearance, it also wins the award for cutest endemic in Costa Rica and Panama.


Fiery-throated Hummingbird

Usually, this large, high elevation hummingbird looks dark green. Watch it long enough, though, and it can light up like a Christmas ornament! Get your fill of this specialty at the Paraiso de Quetzales feeders.


Fiery-billed Aracari

Back to the lowlands. Watch for this slender toucan in tropical forests from Carara south to western Panama. It can also be seen in some parts of the Central Valley.


Black-hooded Antshrike

Not all endemics are colorful but they are still cool. This antshrike is fairly common in rainforest from Carara south to Panama.


Golden-naped Woodpecker

This beautiful woodpecker is another species that shares the forest with Black-hooded Antshrike, Baird’s Trogon, and Fiery-billed Aracari.


Prong-billed Barbet

The clown of the cloud forest. Despite the lack of bright colors, this odd bird is related to the Toucan Barbet of Colombia and Ecuador. It’s also a common resident of cloud forests in Costa Rica and western Panama, and also comes to feeders.


Buff-fronted Quail-Dove

Quail-doves are cool doves and three species are endemic to Costa Rica and Panama. This one occurs in highland forests. Monteverde is probably the easiest places to see it.


Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl

This small owl is uncommon and tough to find but when it appears, it stays put for stare-downs and soul satisfying views.

Identify and learn about these and more than 700 other bird species with our Costa Rica and Panama birding apps. Check out the lite versions for free!

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