Costa Rica 2020 - Birds

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), Maquenque Ecolodge



In terms of birds, I managed to observe many of the species I wanted to see during the March 2020 trip to Costa Rica. The total number of observed species of around 200 was nevertheless lower than expected based on the rich avifauna in this tropical country (with 950 species in total). I saw (or heard with guides) four species of toucans, four species of trogons (including the Resplendent Quetzal) and at least 18 species of hummingbirds (see own page for the hummers), in addition to the near threatened Great Green Macaw and the Scarlet Macaw. I also found and managed to get photos of two sought-after heron species, one type of tiger-heron (Bare-throated Tiger-heron) and the Boat-billed Heron. And of course, I was happy to observe three of the colorful honeycreeper species (the Green, Red-legged and Shiny Honeycreeper).

Maybe a bit surprising for me, the trip was not particularly good for raptors. I saw the King Vulture at two locations, in the Turtoguero region and in Boca Tapada. To get good photos of the King Vulture, I had to go to a bird hide with carcasses in the latter location. Even if it was raining heavily, this tour was well worth the extra money. The Turkey and Black vultures were common. Also, the Common Black Hawk was relatively common, as were the Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara (on the Pacific coast). I also saw Osprey, Roadside Hawk, and Swainson's Hawk. Otherwise, in transit I saw many small falcon-like raptors perching on wires in the Caribbean lowland, but I am not sure about the ID of these birds. Reading online, I see I am not the first to question "Where are the raptors when birding Costa Rica?" Although the high biodiversity and high number of species, many of them are rare, and their populations are low. To find many of the rarer forest-dwelling species, you must plan ahead and search for them specifically.

But all in all, I was happy with seeing many of the "sought-after" species and getting decent photos of some of them. A list of the birds seen can be seen here.


Collared Aracari, Maquenque Ecolodge


Collared Aracari in the early morning rain-forest, Tortuguero

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii), Maquenque Ecolodge


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Tirimbina Lodge

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), La Paz


Keel-billed Toucan, La Paz. Also seen and heard at Maquenque Ecolodge

A sleeping Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus). This is how you see them at night, just a curled-up feather ball. Monteverde night walk


This is how the Emerald Toucanet really looks like, La Paz (caged bird)

The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), Monteverde Cloud Forest. Not easy to get good photo of as it was hidden in the treetops in the dense rainforest. But very happy to see one at all!


The Resplendent Quetzal (a trogon) is one of the most-sought after birds in Costa Rica. Maybe not strange, given its spectacular beauty. I had to hire my own bird guide to find this species in Monteverde. Walked around for three hours on the trails in the cloud forest, and then found one just at the end!

Partly hidden Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena), Tortuguero


Slaty-tailed Trogon, Tirimbina Nature Reserve

Black-throated Trogon - female (Trogon rufus), Selva Verde Nature Reserve


Black-throated Trogon - male, Selva Verde Nature Reserve

Lesson's Motmot (Momotus lessoni), Monteverde night walk


Brown Jay (Psilorhinus morio), Monteverde night walk

Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), Cerro Lodge


Turquoise-browed Motmot, near Cerro Lodge

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), Cerro Lodge


A Scarlet Macaw at Cerro Lodge

Scarlet Macaw drinking and eating the fruit from the Cashew Tree (Anacardium occidentale), Cerro Lodge


Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus), Maquenque Ecolodge

Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis), Maquenque Ecolodge


Brown-hooded Parrot, Maquenque Ecolodge

Orange-fronted Parakeet (Eupsittula canicularis), Cerro Lodge Entrance Road


Yellow-naped Parrot (Amazona auropalliata), Cerro Lodge

Olive-throated Parakeet (Eupsittula nana), Tortuguero


Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa), Tortuguero

Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis), Maquenque Ecolodge


Orange-chinned Parakeet, Maquenque Ecolodge

Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma), Maquenque Ecolodge


Montezuma Oropendola, Maquenque Ecolodge

Great Curassow - male (Crax rubra), Tortuguero


Great Curassow - female, La Fortuna

Black Guan (Chamaepetes unicolor), Monteverde Cloud Forest


Russet-naped Wood-rail (Aramides albiventris), Frio River in Caño Negro

Grey-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps), Tirimbina Lodge


Grey-headed Chachalaca, Tirimbina Lodge

Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana), Cerro Lodge


Squirrel Cuckoo, Cerro Lodge

Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis), Sarapiquí River


Green Ibis, Sarapiquí River

White Ibis - immature (Eudocimus albus), Frio River in Caño Negro


White Ibis, Frio River in Caño Negro

Bare-throated Tiger-heron - immature (Tigrisoma mexicanum), Tortuguero


Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Tarcoles River

A really strange fella, the Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), La Fortuna


Boat-billed Heron, Frio River in Caño Negro

Green Heron (Butorides virescens), Tarcoles River


Green Heron, Boca Tapada

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Tortuguero


Snowy Egret, Sarapiqui River

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Sarapiqui River


Great Blue Heron, Tortuguero

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor), Tortuguero


Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Tarcoles River

Little Blue Heron, white morph (Egretta caerulea), Tortuguero


Little Blue Heron, blue morph (Egretta caerulea), Sarapiqui River

Yellow-crowned Night-heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Tortuguero


Yellow-crowned Night-heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Tortuguero

Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja), Tarcoles River


Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), Frio River in Caño Negro

Anhinga - male (Anhinga anhinga), Tortuguero


Catch of the day. Anhinga - female, Frio River in Caño Negro

Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus), Frio River in Caño Negro


Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), with a Great Egret (Ardea alba), near Caño Negro

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus), Tortuguero


Purple Gallinule - immature, Maquenque Ecolodge

Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa), Tortuguero


Northern Jacana - immature, Maquenque Ecolodge

Black-bellied Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis). Sitting outside an aviary at La Paz, saying hello to its locked-in friends


Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), Tortuguero

Sanderling (Calidris alba), Tortuguero


Sanderling, Tortuguero

Spotted Sandpiper - nonbreeding (Actitis macularius), Sarapiqui River


Spotted Sandpiper, with spots, Maquenque Ecolodge

Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus), Tortuguero


Shorebirds near the outlet of Tarcoles River. These are Willet (Tringa semipalmata), Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) (presumely Short-Billed based on location), Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), and a small Sandpiper behind the Willet to the left (could be Least Sandpiper)

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), Tortuguero


Hudsonian Whimbrel (Numenius hudsonicus), Tarcoles River

Magnificent Frigatebird (Himantopus mexicanus), Tarcoles River


Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis) at dusk, Cerro Lodge

Sungrebe - male or nonbreeding female (Heliornis fulica), Tortuguero


Sungrebe - breeding female, Tortuguero

Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), Monteverde Cloud Forest


Sunbittern with catch of the day, a freshwater crab, Monteverde Cloud Forest

Red-legged Honeycreeper - male (Cyanerpes cyaneus), Maquenque Ecolodge


Red-legged Honeycreeper - female, Maquenque Ecolodge

Green Honeycreeper - male (Chlorophanes spiza), Maquenque Ecolodge


Green Honeycreeper - female, Maquenque Ecolodge

Shining Honeycreeper - male (Cyanerpes lucidus), Maquenque Ecolodge


Shining Honeycreeper - female, Maquenque Ecolodge

Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata), Maquenque Ecolodge


Golden-hooded Tanager, Boca Tapada

Scarlet-rumped Tanager - male (Ramphocelus passerinii), Maquenque Ecolodge


Scarlet-rumped Tanager - female (Ramphocelus passerinii), La Fortuna

Palm Tanager (Thraupis palmarum), Maquenque Ecolodge


Palm Tanager, Maquenque Ecolodge

Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus), Maquenque Ecolodge


Blue-gray Tanager, Maquenque Ecolodge

Red-throated Ant-tanager (Habia fuscicauda), La Fortuna


Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), Cerro Lodge

Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus), Cerro Lodge


Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis), seen from the tree-house at Maquenque Ecologde

Hoffman's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii), Hotel Bougainvillea, San Jose


Hybrid between Hoffman's Woodpecker and Red-crowned Woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus), Cerro Lodge

Red-crowned x Hoffmann's Woodpecker (hybrid) Melanerpes sp., near Cerro Lodge


Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani), La Fortuna

Rufous-winged Woodpecker (Piculus simplex), Maquenque Ecologde


Smoky-brown Woodpecker (Picoides fumigatus), Monteverde Cloud Forest

Ringed Kingfisher - female (Megaceryle torquata), Sarapiqui River


Ringed Kingfisher - male, Tortuguero

Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana), Tarcoles River


Green Kingfisher, Frio River in Caño Negro

Amazon Kingfisher - male (Chloroceryle amazona), Sarapiqui River


Amazon Kingfisher - female, Sarapiqui River

American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea), Frio River in Caño Negro


American Pygmy Kingfisher, Frio River in Caño Negro

Yellowish Flycatcher (Empidonax flavescens), Monteverde Cloud Forest


Yellow-olive Flycatcher (Tolmomyias sulphurescens), Cerro Lodge

Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus), Cerro Lodge


Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), Frio River in Caño Negro

Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer), La Fortuna


Long-tailed Tyrant (Colonia colonus), Maquenque Ecolodge

Scrub Euphonia (Euphonia affinis), near Cerro Lodge


Could be a female Yellow-crowned Euphonia (Euphonia luteicapilla), La Fortuna

Greenish Elaenia (Myiopagis viridicata), near Cerro Lodge


Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster), Tortuguero

Female Rose-throated Becard (Pachyramphus aglaiae), near Cerro Lodge


Rose-throated Becard, Cerro Lodge

It was difficult to get good photos of birds under the dense canopy in the cloud forest. Here a poor image of a Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus), Monteverde Cloud Forest


Gray-breasted Wood-wren (Henicorhina leucophrys), Monteverde Cloud Forest


Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus capistratus), San Jose


House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), Maquenque Ecolodge

Streak-headed Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii), Maquenque Ecolodge


Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Cerro Lodge

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus), San Jose


Struggling with the heat! A Great Kiskadee, San Jose

Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis), San Jose


Social Flycatcher, Boca Tapada

Could be a White-ringed Flycatcher (Conopias albovittatus)? Has whitish eyelids and longer? bill which is supposedly distinguishing it from the almost identical Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis), Sarapiqui River


Gray-capped Flycatcher (Myiozetetes granadensis), Boca Tapada

Yellow-throated Euphonia (Euphonia hirundinacea), La Fortuna


Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus), Maquenque Ecolodge

Black-crowned Tityra with a fat lunch (Tityra inquisitor), Cerro Lodge


Long-tailed Tyrant (Colonia colonus), with a pair of Black-crowned Tityra, Boca Tapada

Variable Seedeater - female (Sporophila corvina), Sarapiqui


Variable Seedeater - male, Tortuguero

Black-faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops), Monteverde Cloud Forest


Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis), La Paz

Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi). Of all the colorful birds they have, Costa Rica selected this one as their national bird!


It's song is beautiful, especially in the morning. So I can understand why the Clay-colored Thrush was selected as national bird after all


Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris), Sarapiqui


Groove-billed Ani, Cerro Lodge

Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea), Sarapiqui River


Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis), Boca Tapada

Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus), Boca Tapada


Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), La Paz

According to the guide, a Black-and-White Warbler (Mniotilta varia). Corrected to Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica), Ecocentro Danaus, La Fortuna


Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana), Boca Tapada

Another one of the cryptic birds encountered on a night walk, the White-eared Ground-Sparrow (Melozone leucotis), Monteverde cloud forest


Saw the sleeping Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) on several night walks, here from Tirimbina Nature Reserve

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla), La Fortuna


Stripe-headed Sparrow (Peucaea ruficauda), near Cerro Lodge

Melodious Blackbird (Dives dives), Maquenque Ecolodge


Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), San Jose

According to the guide, this was a Nicaraguan Grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis), Caño Negro. This species is endemic to Nicaragua and the Caño Negro region of Costa Rica, and a much-sought after bird to tick off for birders


Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus), Caño Negro

Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus), Cerro Lodge


Streak-backed Oriole, Cerro Lodge

Baltimore Oriole - female (Icterus galbula), Cerro Lodge


Baltimore Oriole - male, Cerro Lodge

Yellow Tyrannulet (Capsiempis flaveola), La Foruna


Giant Cowbird (Molothrus oryzivorus), Maquenque Ecoloodge

Inca Dove (Columbina inca), Cerro Lodge


Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis), Maquenque Ecoloodge

White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi), Maquenque Ecoloodge


White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica), San Jose

King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), Tortuguero


King Vulture, Boca Tapada

King Vulture, Boca Tapada


King Vulture - immature, Boca Tapada

The clean-up crew. Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) at a cow carcass along Tarcoles River


Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), Turtoguero


Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway), Cerro Lodge Entrance Road

Yellow-headed Caracara - immature (Milvago chimachima), Cerro Lodge


Yellow-headed Caracara, Tarcoles River

Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus), Tortuguero


Common "Mangrove" Black Hawk, Tarcoles River

A migrating Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), near Cerro Lodge


Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Tarcoles River

A distant Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris), Boca Tapada


Common Black Hawk, Tarcoles River