NAVIGATION

Where the Birds Are

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Watching the landscapes and habitats change as you fly over Costa Rica, you may start to get an inkling of the country’s diversity. So it should come as no surprise that lots of different birds reside here. Around 900 species flutter, buzz, swim, climb, and squawk across the country. This list is a small sample of some of the more common and interesting birds that you will likely encounter during your travels. Happy birding!


Quetzal
Guatemala’s national bird, the resplendent quetzal is found in high elevation cloud forest habitats, where it feeds on the aguacatillo tree and nests in old woodpecker holes.

Toucan
The chestnut-mandibled toucan is Costa Rica’s largest toucan species. It is found in lowland forests, often marauding the canopy in the early morning or late evening feeding on fruit, birds’ eggs and various insects.

Macaw
The scarlet macaw, or lapa roja, was once a victim of the international pet trade and therefore difficult to spot. But thanks to strict protection and reintroduction programs, its numbers have increased along the Pacific coast, where it eats beach almond and noisily squawks in flight.

Yigüirro
While not the most colorful bird in the country, the clay-colored thrush, or yigüirro, is Costa Rica’s national bird. Found in almost every habitat and region, the yigüirro famously sings its melodious song at the start of the rainy season, notifying farmers of the coming rains.

Motmot
An exotic-looking bird often encountered near the edge of dry forest at daybreak, the turquoise-browed motmot is the national bird of both Nicaragua and El Salvador. Taking full advantage of the country’s frequent landslides, the motmot digs nesting tunnels on the sides of exposed mud banks.

Hummingbird
The rufous-tailed hummingbird is Costa Rica’s most widely spread nectar eating bird. Found in many habitats from beaches to coffee plantations, this hummingbird can be told apart from others by its reddish bill and copper-colored tail.

Curassow
The country´s largest pheasant-like bird, the great curassow is often found with a monogamous partner, foraging the forest floor for seeds, grubs and fruit. The male is a noble black and white, while the female is an elegant brown.

Woodpecker
The epitome of what one would imagine of a woodpecker, the pale-billed woodpecker is a large bird inhabiting many of the country’s protected areas. It can be easily identified by its powerful double tap on hollow trees heard from deep within the forest.

Spoonbill
The roseate spoonbill is a striking pink bird with a spoon-shaped bill, which it sweeps from side to side in shallow waters, hunting various aquatic prey. Its color is diet-derived from the many crustaceans it eats.

Pauraque
A nocturnal bird, the common pauraque spends its days quietly sitting on branches in perfect camouflage. Often encountered on the road, beach, or trail at night, the pauraque’s eyes glow an eerie red in the light of a car or flashlight.

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