Costa Rica is a fun, fantastic place for birding:
- Literally several hundred species to see.
- Good infrastructure.
- Accessible, quality habitat.
- Emerald Tanagers…
Yes, the birding in Costa Rica is fantastic but it’s much better if you spend some time preparing for the trip. You don’t need to memorize every one of 920 plus species but you should probably learn a few. You don’t need to spend hours upon hours trying to learn vocalizations but the trip will be more satisfying if you try and learn some of those warblers and whistles. It also pays knowing which habitats occur at which sites, which birds you might want to see more than others, which ones are common and which ones are rare.
Even if you go with a tour or hire an excellent local guide, it’s still worth studying before the trip. “Studying” might sound like a chore but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to have fun with the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app while preparing for a birding trip to Costa Rica:
Check out the common birds first
So many birds, where to even start? If only we had that conundrum every time we went birding! A list with more than 900 birds can be daunting but it can be whittled down by starting with a set of common species. To quickly see the common birds of Costa Rica, use “Filter bird list”, pick “Status”, “Common”, and “Done” and “Back”. Scroll through these birds by Name, Group, and Family to start learning about the birds you will see the most (that still leaves more than 370 to look through!).
Bay-headed Tanager, common? YES!
Check out resident species and migrants
Don’t want to worry about Baltimore Orioles and other migrant species from home? Go to the Filter and mark “Resident”, then Back. This filters out the migrants. Likewise, if you felt like seeing which migrant species visited Costa Rica, you could touch “Migrant” instead.
Play around with the app
The best way to learn how to use any app and find the features you like the most is by playing around with it. Scroll through birds, listen to songs, check out information and range maps, and play around with the Filter. See which species pop up and check them out. Check out birds by group or family to see how many tanagers occur, see how many hummingbird species you might see (a lot!).
Check out birds for each region to be visited
Go to the Filter, pick “Region”, and choose among four major areas of Costa Rica. Plan on visiting high elevations? Pick the “Highlands” and take a look at the beautiful Collared Redstart among other beauties. Visiting Guanacaste? Check out the cool birds from the North Pacific.
The Turquoise-browed Motmot is one of those birds and yes, it’s common too!
Learn at least one song for each bird family
If you really love learning bird vocalizations, the Costa Rica Birs field guide app does have them for 829 species. But, if that’s a bit too much, try learning one song per family or set a goal for 50 common species. One of the benefits of learning songs with this app is that you can also look at images of the species while listening the vocalizations it makes. We find this blend of visual and auditory learning to be much better for learning bird songs than just listening to them.
Play around with similar species
As with everywhere, Costa Rica also has birds that look similar. To help identify such birds, touch the similar species function to see a list of similar looking birds for direct comparison.
Mark your targets and make notes
Don’t forget to mark your target species! Do this while studying birds or playing around with the app to customize it and make your personal target list. Every bird marked as a “Target” is then shown when you filter for “Target”. If you like making notes, the app can be further customized by doing just that for each species. If it helps, email yourself the notes as well.
You might want to mark the Crimson-collared Tanager as a target species.
Do some or all of the above and you can check out target species and compare birds while waiting for your next favorite show to become available, riding the train, or whatever other free time you might have. You can also use the app to learn more about habitats in Costa Rica in “More”>”Description of Regions and Habitats” as well as information about endemics and
Conservation Status of birds on the Costa Rica list.
Once you are in Costa Rica, keep using the app to mark your lifers, use as a quick field guide, and make notes to email yourself after yet another day of fantastic, satisfying birding in Costa Rica. With 900 plus species to think about, better start checking out some of those future lifers today!