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Birdwatching in Costa Rica

The small Central American country of Costa Rica is famous around the world for its breathtaking natural wonders and unrivaled biodiversity. As a matter of fact 5% of the planets biodiversity, is found in only .03% of the earths surface here in Cr. The raw flora and fauna spreads throughout the country and continues to amaze returning visitors and even locals day after day. For Birders, Costa Rica may just be paradise on earth. With over 850 species of birds it lures tens of thousands of  birdwatchers from around the globe each year.

birdwatching in costa ric

Costa Rica’s rainforests and breathtaking beaches are the most popular draws for tourist and people buying real estate in Costa Rica but birdwatchers are flocking in! Birding has seamlessly become one of the most popular activities in Costa Rica and this attraction only continues to grow.

Keel Billed Toucan, from Central America.

Costa Rica is home to over 850 species of birds, and those looking for remarkable avifauna will not be disappointed when visiting this lush landscape. This huge collection of species of birds is owed to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions millions of years ago that eventually caused the American continents to connect and form what we now know as Central America. Through this connection, birds from both North and South America have migrated to Central America, accounting for the diversity in birds. The majority of birds are found on the mainland and territorial waters, but there are many others that can only be found on Coco Island that contribute to the wide variety of species of birds in Costa Rica.


Birdwatchers visiting Costa Rica can fall in love with their hobby even more by visiting any of the National Parks and Reserves that offer both guided and unguiged birding excursions. One park that is well-known for amazing bird sightings is the Carara National Park, located just a short drive from the vibrant surf town of Jaco Beach. Because Carara’s rainforest is a bit more dry than most, not all of the trees are evergreen, it is much easier to spot wildlife and birds. Carara is also a great place for birding because of it’s access to the Tarcoles River, which has free-flowing water that seeps into marshlands and a seasonal lake that increases the number of bird habitats by nearly a dozen!

Another great park to visit is Los Quetzales National Park, named after the magnificent must-see quetzal bird that is most commonly seen in this park, despite it’s elusive and skittish behaviour. Los Quetzales, like Carara, is also popular for it’s easy access through San Jose, Manuel Antonio, as well as Jaco. The park is massive and any birder is guaranteed amazing sightings to be remembered forever!

Some of the most exotic and rare birds in the world can be spotted in Costa Rica, such as:

  • Resplendent Quetzal
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Keel-billed Toucan
  • Ornate Hawk Eagle
  • Long Tailed Manakin
  • Red Headed Barbet
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Sunbittern
  • King Vulture
  • Three-Wattled Bellbird

Birdwatchers don’t only have to rely on national parks to see their must-see birds. Many species can be seen out in regular settings, as Costa Rica’s nature is everywhere and not confined to reserves. Bring your hiking boots and binoculars, Costa Rica is a Birders paradise.