Station to Station - Guided Birding Adventure

← Back to Birding Group Tours / Tour Package #7 – Station to Station, Birding Costa Rica’s Biological Stations

Birding Station to Station is a fantastic birdwatching journey through six different life zones in Costa Rica. With your experienced, professional bird watching guide, you’ll explore the Caribbean Lowlands, the Talamanca Highlands, the foothills and valleys of San Vito, the Pacific foothills, and the transitional Central Pacific rain forest.

Your trip includes stays at two important Biological Stations; La Selva Biological Station and Las Cruces as well as visits to several private gardens and reserves, Los Cusingos, and Carara National Park.

For any avid bird watcher, this exceptional birding adventure offers the chance to add many endemic species to your life list and if you’re a photographer, a chance to get your best shots of the top birds in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Group Birding Trip 1

‘Station to Station’ Group Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive San Jose | Welcome to Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica! Your private driver will meet you at the San Jose International Airport and together you’ll transfer to your hotel for your first night in Costa Rica. Your guide will meet you at the hotel reception. The Hotel Villas San Ignacio is the perfect start to your journey with it’s lovely design and cozy ambiance. Your guide will stroll through the 1.5 km forested trails with you helping you find the top bird species of the area. The group will meet in the evening for a Welcome Dinner.

Hotel: Villas San Ignacio
Hotel Villas San Ignacio

Day 2: Caribbean Lowlands | Cinchona Feeders & La Selva Biological Station

This morning, after an early breakfast, you’ll depart the Central Valley for the Caribbean Lowlands. En-route you’ll make a stop at the incredible Cinchona Feeders. Cinchona is a favored stop for bird watchers and photographers as it offers a chance to see hummingbirds, barbets, toucanets, and hummingbirds. The observation deck is a lovely place to have a hot cup of coffee and get an eye level view of many species of birds. You’ll enjoy lunch at Cinchona and then continue on to La Selva Biological station for check in.

At Cinchona watch for: Red-headed barbet, Prong-billed Barbet, Emerald Toucanet, . White Bellied Mountain Gem, Violet Sabrewing, Green Thorntail, Coppery-headed Emerald, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Silver Throated Tanager, Crimson Collared Tanager, Passerini’s Tanager.

You’ll arrive at the La Selva Biological Station with time to explore the gardens and nearby trails with your guide. Dinner tonight will be at the Biological Station.

Hotel: La Selva Biological Station
Birding La Selva Biological Station


Day 3: Caribbean Lowlands | La Selva Biological Station

This morning you’ll be up with the sun to start your exploration of the La Selva Biological Station trails. La Selva’s influence on tropical ecology is immeasurable. It has served as a key training and research site for numerous scientists in many fields of study. La Selva Research Station pioneered private forest conservation in Costa Rica, as it was the first of what is now a large network of private forest reserves in the country and provided a base for the study of all tropical flora and fauna.

The species richness of La Selva is outstanding, with more than 2,077 species of plants; 125 species of mammals (72 of them bats); 470 species of birds; 48 amphibian species; 87 species of reptiles; 45 species of freshwater fish; and tens of thousands of insects, arachnids and other arthropods.

Some of the top species on our target list include the Tiny Hawk, red-legged Honeycreeper, Ornate Hawk Eagle, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Pied-Puffbird. Snowy Cotinga, occasionally its relative the Three-wattled Bellbird, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Uniform Crake, Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Green Ibis, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Great Green Macaw, Mealy Parrot, Olive-throated Parakeet, White-collared Manakin, Great Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Gartered Trogon, Broad-billed Motmot, Rufous Motmot, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, White-ringed Flycatcher, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Fasciated Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Dusky Antbird, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Great Curassow, Crested Guan, Pied Puffbird, White-necked Puffbird, White-fronted Nunbird, Black-throated Wren, Stripe-breasted Wren, Bay Wren, Canebrake Wren, Shining Honeycreeper, Crimson-collared Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager, Collared Forest-Falcon, King Vulture, Middle America Screech-Owl, Great Potoo, Spectacled Owl, Crested Owl, Black-and-white Owl and Short-tailed Nighthawk.

You’ll spend all day exploring La Selva, with breaks for breakfast and lunch at the lodge.

Hotel: La Selva Biological Station
Birding la Selva Biological Station Image

Day 4: Talamanca Highlands | Cope’s Gardens and the Highlands

Today after your morning birding and breakfast you’ll continue to Cope’s Gardens for a chance to see some fantastic birds, and meet a truly unique local bird lover and artist, the owner of Cope’s Gardens, Jose Alberto Perez.

Cope will take you through his garden paradise and you’ll visit all the feeders, the pond and the surrounding area. Cope knows where the Owls are roosting, where to find the Potoo, and all the other wonderful creatures that call his gardens home.

After Cope’s you’ll travel to the highlands of the Talamanca Mountains. Keep a sweater handy as you will feel the temperatures drop as you gain elevation.

You’ll stop enroute for lunch and reach your lodge for check in and some time for a walk around the gardens for your introduction to the highland species.

Hotel: Suenos del Bosque
Birding Hotel Suenos del Bosque

Day 5: Talamanca Highlands | Savegre Reserve

The Talamanca Mountains are a Tropical Cloud Forest area. Almost three-quarters of all the trees are White Oak. This lush, gorgeous forest is vibrant with bromeliads, mosses, ferns, and orchids. The air plants and epiphytes flourish in this cool, damp climate.

With a fantastic combination of highlands, middle elevation, and paramo, the area provides birders and bird photographers a wonderland of species to see and photograph.

San Gerardo de Dota is known as the most reliable place in the country to observe the Resplendent Quetzal, probably the most famous bird of Costa Rica and maybe of all of Central America. It is often found feeding in the wild avocado trees that populate the Savegre Reserve.

Some of the top species of the area include: Resplendent Quetzal, Collared Trogon, Collared Redstart, Slate-throated Redstart, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, White-winged Tanager, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Silver-throated Jay and occasionally Azure-hooded Jay, Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge, Spotted Wood-Quails, Black Guan, Flame-throated Warbler, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Wren thrush, Streak-breasted Treehunter, White-throated Mountain-gem, Lesser Violetear, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Chestnut-capped Brush finch, Ochraceous Wren, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Large-footed Finch, Buff-fronted Quail-Dove, Black-cheeked Warbler, Torrent Tyrannulet, American Dipper, Ruddy Treerunner, Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Buffy Tufted cheek, Ochraceous Pewee, Tufted Flycatcher, Black-capped Flycatcher, Barred Parakeet, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Bat Falcon, Dusky Nightjar, Bare-shanked Screech-Owl and Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, Red-headed Barbet, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Golden-Crowned Chlorophonia, Long-Tailed Silky Flycatcher.

Hotel: Suenos del Bosque
Birding Hotel Suenos del Bosque

Day 6: Pacific Lowlands | Paramo and Las Cruces Bio Station

Today, after breakfast you’ll depart San Gerardo de Dota and gain elevation to explore the paramo area of Cerro de la Muerte. This unique region is the northernmost paramo in the world.

You’ll stop and look for the top species including the Volcano Junco, Volcano Hummingbird, Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Timberline Wren, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Peg-billed Finch, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-capped Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Large-Footed Finch and Sooty Thrush. You’ll then travel south heading to the Pacific Lowlands and the San Vito Valley. You’ll arrive at the Las Cruces Biological Station for check in and with time to explore the grounds in the afternoon.

Your guide will give you an introduction to the area, and the top species of Las Cruces and Wilson’s gardens. You’ll have time for some bird watching before dinner this evening at the station.

Hotel: Las Cruces Biological Station

Birding Las Cruces Biological Station

Day 7: Pacific Lowlands| Las Cruces Biological Station and Wilson’s Gardens

Las Cruces Biological Station, which protects over 300 hectares of middle elevation forest also includes the incredible Wilson Botanical Garden. It was opened in the 1960s and contains more than 1000 species of plants. A great part of the garden are the bromeliads, orchids, bamboos, and heliconias, as well as the world’s second largest botanical collection of palms.

Some of the top species of the area include:​ Blue-headed Parrot, Streaked Saltator, Fiery-billed Aracari, Rufous-breasted Wren, Long-billed Starthroat, Crested Oropendola, Thick-billed Euphonia, Spot-crowned Euphonia, White-tailed Emerald, Garden Emerald, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, and even the spectacular Turquoise Cotinga. Feeders near the dining hall offer chances for Speckled Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Blue-crowned Motmot, just to mention a few. Checking around at night you find Mottled Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, and Vermiculated Screech-Owl.

Hotel: Las Cruces Biological Station
Birding Las Cruces Biological Station

Day 8: Pacific Foothills | San Isidro del General

Today after breakfast you’ll start your journey north to San Isidro del General. You’ll bird along the way, stopping for interesting species.

You’ll reach Talari Lodge for check in and then you’ll begin your birding on the lush forest trails that surround the Lodge. The lodge boasts 8 hectares of landscaped gardens, river frontage, primary and secondary rainforest. There have been more than 200 species of birds recorded at the lodge.

Top species at Talari: White-crowned Parrots, Orange-chinned Parakeets, Red-crowned Woodpeckers, Olivaceous Piculet, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Streaked Flycatcher, Masked Tityras, White-winged Becards, Brown Jays, Bay-headed Tanagers, Yellow-crowned Euphonias, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Garden Emerald and Stripe-throated Hermit, Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush, Orange-billed Sparrow, Orange-collared Manakins, Gray-necked Woodrail,Scaled Pigeon, Pearl Kite, Variable Seedeaters, Blue-black Grassquits, Grey-crowned Yellowthroat, Slaty and Pale-breasted Spintail, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager. White-crested Coquette,Common Pauraque, Common Potoo, Mottled Owl, Tropical Screech Owl, Turquoise Cotinga, Speckled Tanager, Fiery-billed Aracari, Green Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis, Golden-Hooded Tanagers, Blue Crowned Motmots, Buff throated Saltator, and the Palm Tanagers.

Hotel: Talari Lodge
Birding Hotel Talari Lodge

Day 9: Pacific Foothills | Los Cusingos

In 1941, Dr. Alexander Skutch, a botanist and naturalist, purchased the land that would become Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary. The farm, which is named after the fiery-billed aracari, inspired Dr. Skutch to write more than 30 books and hundreds of papers on Costa Rica’s biodiversity and ornithology.

During his lifetime, Dr. Skutch made many contributions to the world of ornithology, including in-depth research of 300 species in the American tropics. Additionally, he investigated the area’s flora, and in the process discovered many new plant species. These discoveries can be identified by the second half of their scientific name – skutchii, in honor of Dr. Skutch.

Los Cusingos Bird Refuge has 1.2 miles of walking trails, which weave past several archaeological sites. One of the most important has pre-Colombian petroglyphs that are decorated with native art.

The refuge also has a small lodging facility with bathrooms, showers, and a communal kitchen. The bird sanctuary offers a great diversity, as it covers altitudes between 800 and 3820 meters above sea level. Visits also give guests the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of one of conservation’s heroes.

Top species include: Turquoise Cotinga, Golden Naped Woodpecker, Baird’s Trogon, Black-Hooded Antshrike, Orange-Collared Manakin, Riverside Wren, Spot-crowned Euphonia, a wide array of Tanagers, Hummingbirds, and Antbirds.

Hotel: Talari Lodge
Birding Talari Lodge Costa Rica

Day 10: Central Pacific | Villa Lapas Gardens and Trails

Today you’ll continue north along the Pacific Coastline, making your way to the transitional forests of the Central Pacific. You’ll arrive at your lodge in time to spend the afternoon exploring the gardens and trails with your guide.

The 500 acre private reserve includes primary and secondary forest plus a pristine river flowing alongside the hotel. Be sure to listen for the Scarlet Macaws, this area is the perfect place to spot them.

Top species on the hotel grounds: Chestnut Mandibled Toucan, Fiery-billed Aracari, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Slaty Tailed, Violaceous, and Black -Headed Trogons, Scarlet Macaws, Green, Amazon, and Ringed Kingfishers, Blue-black Grosbeak, Yellow throated, and Yellow-crowned Euphonias, Golden-Hooded Tanager, Cherrie’s Tanager, Red Legged Honeycreepers, Green Honeycreepers, Painted Buntings, Long-tailed Manakins, Black-faced Antthrush, Baird’s Trogon, Royal Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Great Tinamou, Riverside Wren, and the Red-Capped Manakin.

Hotel: Villa Lapas
Birding Hotel Villa Lapas

Day 11: Central Pacific | Carara National Park & Tarcoles River Estuary

Carara National Park has the distinction of being the largest transitional forest in Costa Rica and one of the most important wildlife corridors in all of Central and South America.

This forest joins the dry tropical forest of the Northern Zone with the lush tropical rainforest of the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. The result is an amazing variety of birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, trees, and plants.

You’ll arrive early with your private guide and enjoy a full morning of birding at one of the most prolific parks in the country. You’ll return to the lodge for lunch, and a break during the heat of the day, then your adventure continues as you head to the Tarcoles river for the afternoon.

The unique location of the Tarcoles River and its easy and productive birding makes it one of the top birdwatching sites in all of Central America.

Top species for the day: American Pygmy-Kingfisher, Double-striped Thick-knee, endemic Mangrove Hummingbird, Panama Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo,Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Ruddy Quail-dove, Rufous-and-white Wren, Northern Bentbill, Black-hooded Antshrike, Dusky Antbird, Scarlet Macaw, Plain Xenops, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Northern Barred Woodcreeper, Dot-winged Antwren, Orange-collared Manakin, Baird’s Trogon, Common and Slate-headed Tody-flycatcher, Purple-crowned Fairy,King Vulture, Streaked Flycatcher, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, Rufous-breasted Wren, Black-bellied Wren, Black-throated Trogon, Violaceous Trogon, Black-headed Trogon, Lineated Woodpecker, Riverside Wren, Golden-hooded, Summer Tanager, White-collared Swift, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Orange-collared Manakin, Blue-black Grosbeak, Variable Seedeater, Barred Antshrike, Rose-throated Becard, Great Tinamou, White-winged Becard, Golden-crowned Euphonia and many more.

Hotel: Villa Lapas
Birding Hotel Villa Lapas Costa Rica

Day 12: San Jose International Airport | Time to return home

Your birding adventure has come to an end. Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and then prepare to depart for San Jose. Your guide will take you back to the San Jose International Airport for your International flight.

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Costa Rica Focus is a birding tour company that offers customized Costa Rica birdwatching tours for individuals or groups of people and guided by a knowledgeable birding expert who will help you spot and learn about the beauty of the birds of Costa Rica. Let’s talk about your Costa Rica birding vacation!

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