birds of costa rica

Rufous-collared sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)

See more from the #EcoCostaRica Project

From my travel journal:

December 2, 2013

Last night at the Savegre Lodge was downright cold.  I was there specifically to see the birds of Costa Rica. I lit a fire and hung my clothes near to the flames to dry the sweat from the day’s hike.  I made my bed and heated some water. It is a romantic little room and there was a moment when I thought how nice it might be to share that sweet space for the evening. Then I thought of all the trouble that inevitably brings and realized I’d be happier in the long run by sticking with my book. I filled the coffee machine for the morning and wiped myself clean with a hot washcloth. In bed, with the lights off, the only illumination was from the fireplace.  I didn’t read, just watched the flames until my eyes closed.  This morning I opened the curtains to find a Blue-gray Tananger staring at me.  He jumped away towards the flowers and a Golden-hooded Tananger took his place.  I stumbled out with my coffee and looked up the hill.  To get into the cloud forest you first scramble past the hydrangea and on up through blackberry fields and plum and peach orchards on forty-five degree slopes. The craggy moss….

Costa Rica isn’t large. It’s about the size of West Virginia. But thanks to its extremely diverse landscapes and location at the cross roads between North and South America it is one of the top birding spots in the world.

Nearly 900 species of bird have been recorded in Costa Rica.  That is more than in all of North America combined.  Its also the greatest density of bird species in any country in the Americas.  I thought I was in heaven in Panama…..this was incredible.

One of the main reasons the birds of Costa Rica are so numerous stems from the nation’s rich geologic diversity. On the Pacific coasts lie vast mangrove swamps. On the Caribbean coast spread vast coastal plains.  Then there are all of the mountain chains that run the length of the country and the deep valleys between them.  This diversity not only gives all the birds many habitats to exploit but it also allows endemic species to develop and Costa Rica hosts a wide range of those too!  The Talamanca Range itself hosts more than thirty species not found anywhere else in the world.

Birds of Costa Rica

Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) – female

A little more than a year ago I published Birdgasm! Twenty-One Beautiful Birds of Panama after my month in that wonderful country.  At the time I pointed out:

World-wide it is estimated that over three million international trips are taken each year for the sole purpose of bird watching. For millions more, bird watching was a secondary purpose. In other words, they went on a trip for many reasons but spent part of that bird watching.  In 2007, twenty-million US citizens went on a bird watching trip.

That is one hell of a lot of money being spent.

In the USA, it is estimated that bird watching generates nearly $3 BILLION a year.  Numbers for Panama aren’t easy to nail down at the moment but this is clear evidence of the massive economic potential that comes from species and habitat conservation.

It seems like, when it comes to birding, money DOES grow on trees.

Its the same for Costa Rica.  Eco-tourism is a tremendous benefit to Costa Rica as I noted here.  These amazing birds are a big part of WHY eco-tourism works so well for Costa Rica.    Go ahead….FEAST YOUR EYES!!

birds of costa rica

Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) – male

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birds of costa rica

Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)

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birds of costa rica

Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha)

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birds of costa rica

Golden-browed chlorophonia (Chlorophonia callophrys)

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birds of costa rica

Collared Redstart (Myioborus torquatus)

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birds of costa rica

Black vulture (Coragyps atratus)

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birds of costa rica

Yellow-thighed finch (Pselliophorus tibialis) = ?

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birds of costa rica

Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyrhynchum)

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birds of costa rica

Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) – I THINK. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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birds of costa rica

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

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birds of costa rica

Flame-colored tanager (Piranga bidentata)

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birds of costa rica

Pale-billed woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis)

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birds of costa rica

Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)

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Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

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Great curassow (Crax rubra)

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Green Violetear (Colibri thalassinus)

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Black-Crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) – I COULD BE WRONG, SUGGESTIONS?

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Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)

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Passerini’s tanager, Ramphocelus passerinii

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17 comments

  1. Comment by ron hagg

    ron hagg Reply July 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    wonderful! wonderful!! wonderful!!

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply July 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you so much RON!

  2. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply July 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Rosita Fernandez you might like this…. 🙂

  3. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply July 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you again Gustavo Vega!! For taking me to all these places. You are definately one of the best guides around!

  4. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply July 24, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Rachel Kowalczyk – PART 2!! Where next?

  5. Comment by Susan

    Susan Reply July 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    As always, your photographs are stunning!

  6. Comment by Laura Jimenez

    Laura Jimenez Reply July 28, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Hello. I hadn’t seen your photographs before. They’re stunning. They were shared by a hotel in Costa Rica via FB. Just one thing. The bird you have as ‘lineated woodpecker’ is really a Paled-billed Woodpecker. The main difference is in the head. The former has a black head with red cheeks, the pale-billed has a red head with a black streak in the top of the head. And I think the unknown bird is this one: Yellow Thighed Finch Latin: Pselliophorus tibialis. Thanks for sharing and I hope I can go birdwatching in Costa Rica soon.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply July 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Laura, Thank you so much. I will be sure to double-check that. Can you please tell me the hotel that shared it!? That is excellent. Again, THANK YOU!

  7. Comment by Kellie Goudreau

    Kellie Goudreau Reply July 29, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Impressed. Well done. Inspired. Thank you.

  8. Comment by Carole Terwilliger Meyers

    Carole Terwilliger Meyers Reply July 30, 2014 at 1:24 am

    These are beautiful! I can't wait to see them all in person.

  9. Comment by Jim O'Donnell

    Jim O'Donnell Reply July 30, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Thanks Carole! Are you going down there soon?

  10. Comment by Fabiana

    Fabiana Reply October 16, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Gorgeous photos! I loved this post.

    • Comment by Jim O'Donnell

      Jim O'Donnell Reply October 30, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Thank you so much Fabiana!

  11. Pingback: For the Birds in Europe, the News Isn't Good

  12. Comment by Corinne Vail

    Corinne Vail Reply January 25, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Jim, These are gorgeous! I want to go!

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