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21 Birds of Costa Rica. A guide with species, seasons and where to see them.


In this article we share a guide to the birds of Costa Rica, with interesting information so that you know which are the main birds that you can observe, where and when to see them.

Birds of Costa Rica Toucan
Toucan is one of the famous Birds of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful country known worldwide for its exuberant flora and fauna. The number of birds that you can find throughout the country is simply impressive.

The Climate and Birds of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a very particular country in terms of climate.

Because it has coastlines on both oceans and a central mountain system, it makes it possible to experience many microclimates in a relatively small area.

Costa Rica weather map
Costa Rica weather map

Being a tropical country, there are no extreme weather conditions and microclimates remain fairly stable throughout the year.

This condition makes Costa Rica the perfect country for birds, as they have different habitats throughout the territory and can find seasonal homes just by flying across the country.

How many types of birds are in Costa Rica?

According to the official list published in 2021 by the Ornithological Association of Costa Rica (AOCR) in the country it is possible to find 923 species.

Classification: Birds of Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, Birds are classified in various ways. Below is a table with the classification of the Birds of Costa Rica and the number of species in each group.

ClasificationDescriptionSpecies
EndemicSpecies typical of Costa Rica that are only found in the country7
Regional EndemicIt is possible to find them in Costa Rica and Panama 73
ResidentsNon-migratory birds that live in the territory of Costa Rica600
AccidentalSpecies that are rarely seen in Costa Rica, their appearance is considered accidental 69
MigratoryBirds that make Costa Rica their seasonal home200
IntroducedSpecies that have been introduced directly or indirectly by humans.4
Classification of birds in Costa Rica

Interesting facts about the Birds of Costa Rica

  • Three of the seven endemic birds of Costa Rica can only be found on Cocos Island.
  • 14 Bird Species, including the 7 endemics, are in danger of extinction.
  • Costa Rica is home to 9% of the world’s bird species, in only 51,100 km2
  • It is estimated that more than 5,000 million birds travel through Costa Rica during their migration process

Guide to birds of Costa Rica

Here is a guide with the main birds of Costa Rica, where and when you can see them.

Costa Rican Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds are probably the smallest birds of Costa Rica.4In Costa Rica it is possible to find many types of hummingbirds. At the moment there are 50 registered species.

Hummingbird in Costa Rica
Hummingbird – 50 species in Costa Rica. This is one of the smallest birds of Costa Rica

Each species is different. Some have longer bills and different colors. All very beautiful.

Black-crested Coquette, Long-billed Hermit, Copper-headed Emerald, Spike-throated Hummingbird, and Fiery-throated Hummingbird are just a few of the species you may see.

Best season

Hummingbirds can be seen throughout the year, however, from November to March is their mating season, where it is very opportune to observe them in their courtship flights.

Where to see them

You can find them all over the country. However, some specific places where you can observe Hummingbirds are:

⦁ Hummingbird Garden in Selvatura Park, in Monteverde. (In captivity)
⦁ La Paz Waterfall Gardens, in Vara Blanca, near the Poás Volcano.. (In captivity)
⦁ Tenorio Volcano National Park. (In its natural habitat)
⦁ Bijagua Rainforest Tours. (In its natural habitat)

Resplendent Quetzal

The resplendent quetzal is known as the most spectacular bird in the New World and is considered one of the most beautiful birds of Costa Rica.

Birds in Costa Rica Quetzal
Resplendent Quetzal. One of the most beautiful birds of Costa Rica.

It has spectacular plumage and a beautiful tail. It is considered one of the most beautiful birds that exist.

Although it is the national bird of Guatemala, the resplendent quetzal can be found in Costa Rica and, in general, in Central America.

Want to see the birds of Costa Rica in their natural habitat ?

In Bijagua de Upala we offer private tours for all those who love birds. In our tours you will be able to observe them in their natural habitat interacting with nature.

Best season

The best time to see the quetzal in Costa Rica is its breeding season. The months between February and July are the best.
In these months, both the trees of the laurel family and those of the wild avocado produce their fruits, which are the favorites of this bird.

Where to see them

Some places where you can find quetzals are:

⦁ Braulio Carrillo National Park
⦁ Quetzals National Park
⦁ Monteverde Cloud Forest
⦁ San Gerardo de Dota

Keel Billed Toucan

One of the most beautiful birds of Costa Rica. Also known as the rainbow-billed toucan, due to the progressive colors of its beaks.

Birds in Costa Rica Keel Billed Toucan
Keel Billed Toucan in the rainforest

It is very easy to recognize it. their large beaks are not only beautiful but also very functional, as they are a basic tool for feeding.

It is one of the largest toucans, as its body is between 20 and 25 inches long.

This tropical species feeds mainly on fruits, which it handles and eats with its large beak.

It is considered an important seed disperser, since it expels them practically whole and ready to germinate.

Best season

it’s possible to find toucans practically all year round. However, the summer months are very convenient to observe them.

Where to see them

The Keel Billed Toucan can be seen mainly in the north and east of Costa Rica. Some specific places:

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Bijagua Rainforest

Trogons

In the world, 40 species of trogons have been identified, ten of which are found in Costa Rica
Trogons are beautifully colored birds with typical eye rings.

Trogons in Costa Rica
Trogon in the wild of costa Rica

They belong to the same family as the Quetzals, but are easier to spot.

Best season

Trogons are more common in spring and summer.

In Costa Rica there are approximately 10 different species of trogons, which differ in color and size of their tails.

Where to see them

Some places where you can find trogons are:

⦁ Cerro de la Muerte
⦁ San Gerardo de Dota
⦁ Monteverde National Park

Scarlet macaw

Definitely one of the most beautiful and typical birds of Costa Rica are the Scarlet Macaw.

Scarlet Macaw flying
Scarlet Macaw flying

It is easy to recognize them by their red, yellow and blue feathers and by their unmistakable sound. They are quite noisy birds and are always found in pairs or groups.

They are quite large birds, being able to measure up to 33 inches long

Best season

There are about 300 green macaws in the north and the Caribbean of the country, while limpets reach 2,000 specimens.
It is possible to see them during most of the year.

Where to see them

They are usually seen in the treetops, where they normally make their nests in hollow logs.
It is possible to find them in dry and humid tropical zones. In Costa Rica, the Scarlet Macaw can be found in places like:

  • Carara National Park
  • Corcovado National Park
  • South and Central Pacific Area
  • Osa Peninsula
  • La Paz Waterfall

Motmots


The motmots often have racquet tipped tails, with the exception of the tody motmot.

Motmots in costa rica
Motmot standing on a tree

In Costa Rica, the traditional motmots are blue-crowned.
They have long tail and shiny feathers.

You will be able to see the motmots in the border of the forest or in open spaces.
The best time to see them is dawn or at dusk.

Best season

The best time to see motmots in Costa Rica is during the dry season, which is from December to May, during their breed time.

Where to see them

  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Carara National Park
  • Corcovado National Park
  • Santa Rosa National Park

Jays

In Costa Rica you will see five types of jays.

They all have blue shades, with the exception of the brawn jay.

The white throated magpie jay
The white throated magpie jay
  • Silvery throated jay
  • The white-throated magpie-jay
  • The azure-hooded jay
  • Black-chested jay
  • Brown jay

Best season

The best season to see all varieties of jay birds in Costa Rica is from December to April.

Where to see them

The best place to see jays in Costa Rica, especially the white throated magpie jays, is in the Guanacaste Province.

Other places are:

  • Carara National Park
  • Palo Verde National Park
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Rincón de La Vieja National Park

Tanagers

These kinds of birds are the most common birds in Costa Rica. They feed on fruits and berries.

Costa Rica is got fifty one species of tanagers.

Silver-throated-Tanager
Silver throated Tanager

They are all beautiful, although some are more colored and exotic than others.

Here are the main species of tanager in Costa Rica:

  • Silver-throated Tanager
  • Blue-gray Tanager
  • Golden-hooded Tanager
  • Scarlet-rumped Tanager
  • Crimson-collared Tanager
  • Red-legged Honeycreeper
  • Green Honeycreeper

Best season

The different types can be seen all year long.

Where to see them

You will get to see them all over the country.

Owls

In Costa Rica you will get to see sixteen different species of owls. Owls are beautiful animals.

The owl is definitely a nocturnal creature, and it has a tremendous ability to hunt during the night.

All of these species have brown shades color.

Costa Rica pygmy owl
Costa Rica pygmy owl

The most popular kinds of owls are:

  • black-and-white owl
  • the striped owl
  • crested owl
  • spectacled owl
  • mottled owl

Best season

For the species that roost inside trees, it is easy to see them during warms seasons.
Also, in autumn when leaves fall, it is easier to see owls in the trunk of trees.

Where to see them

  • Paraiso Quetzal
  • The upper part of the Dota Valley
  • Open areas of the northern and Pacific lowlands and foothills
  • Talari Mountain Lodge
  • La Gamba
  • Curi-Cancha

Long Tailed Manakin

The long-tailed manakin is a specie of bird that can be found in Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Long tailed manakin
Long tailed manakin

Its natural habitat is tropical or subtropical dry forests.

The dance of the long tailed manakin

This specie of bird is very special because of the way it behaves socially.

They usually live in pairs of duos or trios. The mail sings synchronously with their partners.

When they eventually find attraction between them, the male performs a typical courtship dance, very common of the long tailed manakin.

Red Headed Barbet

They inhabit humid high land forest in Costa Rica. The Red headed barbet aslo lives in Panamá, Venezuela, Colombia and Perú.

Red headed barbet
Red headed barbet

This type of birds eats bananas and other fruits. The red-haired bearded mail eats bananas and other fruits.

The time of reproduction of these animals is from March to June. These birds usually build their nest in post cavities or old branches.

Behavior

Those birds most of the time are alone or in pairs. Sometimes they mix with other type of bird groups, when looking up for food.

They eats also different types of insects.

King Vulture

There are four species of vultures in Costa Rica.

Of the four species of vultures in Costa Rica, the King Vulture is the most recognizable.

King Vulture Costa Rica
King Vulture Costa Rica

They have large black and white wings. Their head is colored and bright, with them, so distinguishable from other species.

Their head and neck are a mix of red, orange, purple and yellow skin color.
Also, they are bolt up to the neck.

The King Vulture is the second largest type of vultures. The first one is the mighty condor.

Best Season

The best season to see the king vulture is during the breeding season.
It starts in March and goes until May or June.

They often perform hopping movements around certain perimeter, with their spread wings, as part of their courtship ritual.

Where to see them

You will be able to see them in the tropical lowlands. This is their habitat they like the most.

Costa Rica, one of the best places to see it is in Boca Tapada and also in the Maquenque Mixed Reserve.

Acorn Woodpecker

This bird is the one that typically make the tap-tap sound in the top of the trees.

The acorn woodpecker has a white masked, black head and beak.

Acorn woodpecker feeding
Acorn woodpecker in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica there are sixteen types of wood packers.

Best season

The best time to see these birds is during the nesting season, between the end of April and May.

This is the time when they prepare the holes in the trees for their reproduction.

Where to see them

Most woodpecker species are fairly common in Costa Rica.

You will get to see the acorn woodpecker in oak and mixed green forests, or slopes and mountains in the Southwest of Central America.

They usually live where humans live, without major problems. Woodpecker are often around towns where you find acorns and places where people store acorns.

Turkey or chompipe

It is a large bird. In its adult stage it is characterized by its almost completely naked head and neck. Their feathers, reduced to bristles, are similar to hairs and their legs are equipped with spurs.

Turkey or Chompipe

Behavior

During their appearance time they make aggressive displays, raising their tail feathers in the form of a vertical fan.

Their nests are built with dry leaves and grass in hidden sectors of the ground. From this species all domestic breeds have been developed.

Features

Some time ago it became scarce in its distribution area because its habitat was also lost due to excessive hunting.

On its tail it has its feathers with spots similar to bluish-green eyes and an iridescent purple hue.

On its body the feathers have a metallic gold color, with a bronze-green sheen.

The skin on its head and neck is blue and covered with red, warty growths.

Flycatchers

The Yellow-breasted Flycatcher and Sabanera Earwig. In the months of April and May are the best months to see these birds.

Flycatchers costa rica

Where to see them

These flycatchers are found in open places, such as savannahs and marshes with trees and bushes scattered among the grass.

They perch at a low height, spying on their surroundings until they see an insect, which they catch in the air or on the ground in rapid flight.

The nest is shallow, made of sticks, straws and vegetable fibers, well lined with soft materials.

The blackbird

The escarchero blackbird is one of the 15 species of this family of Costa Rican fauna.

Where to see them

Abundant in the heights, it lives in the forests of giant oaks, also in pastures.

These blackbirds collect many fruits and seeds from the trees and smaller plants that grow on them, and also search for insects and spiders in the grass of the pastures.

Blackbird costa rica

Herons

Various species of herons inhabit the areas of Costa Rican rivers, coasts, estuaries, and lagoons, such as the white, pink, spoonbill, and tick herons.

herons costa rica

Behavior

During the reproductive season, some species have bare skin between the eye and the nostril that can change to an intense red, and both sexes temporarily have long silver or light blue feathers on their heads.

Where to see them

It is common to see that these birds frequent freshwater or saltwater lagoons in groups that feed on small fish.

They are found in the Pacific Guanacaste and Caño Negro.

Kingfisher

Behavior

The behavior of the Martín Pescador is very peculiar. To feed, it proceeds by normally perching on a rock or branch at a low height near the water until it sees its prey.

kingfisher costa rica

It plunges headlong into the water, submerging itself, until it can emerge from the water an instant later with its prey in its beak and carry it to a branch, against which it strikes it several times until it is swallowed.

Where to see them

It lives on the shores of lakes, rivers and shallow streams that run under the shadows of the forests.

Violet Sabrewing

It measures between nine and fifteen centimeters.

It is purple in color, and is one of the largest of its kind.

Violet Sabrewing

Behavior

Feeds on flowers at all levels and sometimes in the canopy of roadside trees.

Where to see them

You can see them in moist evergreen forests on mountains and slopes. They usually migrate during season to lowlands in southeastern Mexico.

Three Wattled Bellbird

Three Wattled Bellbird

Behavior

Usually perches conspicuously when singing.

Sings long distance notes and strange metallic noises.

They are fascinating additions to the sound of the forest.

Where to see them

You can see them in the forests, usually in the canopy.

Easiest to find when singing, but also when feeding in fruit trees.

Snowcap

Snowcap

Behavior

The tiny Snowcap is one of the 50 species of hummingbird stand out for the incredible colors and glittering plumage.

They are very small birds, yet they are very fast.

Where to see them

Two great places in the world to see this species are an unsigned hummingbird garden El Tapir and the classic birding hotel known as Rancho Naturalista.

Emerald toucanet

birds of costa rica emerald toucan

Costarica has several species of toucans, the Esmeralda Toucan, also called Toucancito Verde, is one of the smallest toucans in the country. It measures 29 cm and weighs up to 180g.

Its plumage is mostly green tones, hence its name, from top to bottom it has a variation of green tones with very little bluish color in the part in the lower areas of the eyes and throat.

It has a nice red patch in the areas of the nostrils and around the bases of the bill. Finally, we can tell that its legs also have a beautiful olive green color.

Behavior

Being able to court it, the male brings fruits to the female, and they nest in the hollows of the trunks, they can lay 3 to 4 eggs and their reproduction is mainly in the months of March to July.

Where to see them

We can find this toucanet in the middle regions of the country. They like to feed on fruits, also on insects, nestlings and lizards.

At 800m in the Caribbean variant.

You can see these birds in the north and in the center of Mexico. Also in part of Colombia and eastern Panama.

Birds of Costa Rica rainforest

The Rainforest in Costa Rica is full of beautiful and colorful birds.

Oropendola in a tree
Oropendola in a tree

If you are a bird enthusiast and you are visiting Costa Rica, we recommend joining a tour with bird experts.

In this way you can obtain valuable and real information about the birds that live in the area you are visiting.

In the north of Costa Rica, in the Bijagua area, it is possible to find a large amount of rainforest with beautiful birds to observe.

If you want to know this wonderful place, you can contact us. Our expert guides will take you through an unforgettable experience.

Frequently asked questions about the bird of Costa Rica

Is Costa Rica good for birding?

The answer is yes. Being Costa Rica the connection between the two Americas, the variety of birds that can be seen there are great.

The birds of Costa Rica are beautiful and is possible to see a lot of them in a small extension of land.

Even more than in the United States. It is estimated that there are more than 850 species of birds that you can observe in Costa Rica

Where is the best birding in Costa Rica?

The best places to observe birds in Costa Rica are the jungles tours to the mountains, Talamanca, Bijagua and also Monte Verde.

What bird is Costa Rica known for?

Costa Rica’s national bird is the clay-colored thrush (formerly called the clay-colored robin)

It is the most common bird in the country and found everywhere.

Birds of Costa Rica Guide – Summary

Costa Rica is an excellent place for bird watching.

It has 10% of the world’s bird population.

In this guide we want to provide practical data on the main birds of Costa Rica, where and when to see them.

If you wish to know more about the birds of Costa Rica in a guided bird watching tour, please contact us. In Bijagua we have beautiful rainforests full of spectacular birds to enjoy.

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