When is The Best time of Year for Birding in Costa Rica?
One of the great things about bird watching in Costa Rica is that every month is a great month for bird watching. With so many different micro-climates, avid bird watchers can find a great spot all year ‘round.
Here is a quick guide to some of the best places to visit and to avoid during specific times of the year. It’s important to note that there are two very distinct sides to Costa Rica (Pacific and Caribbean) and two very distinct weather patterns to go along with each side.
Let’s start with the Caribbean side, it’s easy. It rains every month of the year on the Caribbean side. There is very consistent rainfall every month, all year long, with a slight decrease during the months of August, September, and October. With this said, birding on the Caribbean side of the country is always good because there is a constant food supply (fruit, insects, reptiles, etc.) due to the consistent rain.
- Caribbean coast during September and October. The Raptor Migrants from North to South pass directly over the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Visitors can experience hundreds of thousands of raptors including broad-winged hawks, Mississippi Kites, Osprey, Sharp Shin Hawks, Coopers Hawks, and more. These same months are great for seeing the green sea turtles nesting on the beaches of Tortuguero and the baby turtles hatching too.
- La Selva Biological Station. All year. This is an absolute must destination for any birdwatcher visiting Costa Rica.
- Arenal Volcano Area. Combine fabulous birdwatching in lush rainforests with a view of the most iconic natural monument in Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano. A visit to the Arenal Observatory Lodge trails and Caño Negro are highlights for bird enthusiasts.
The Pacific Side
The Pacific side of the country follows a pretty predictable weather pattern, but keep in mind Costa Rica is a tropical country and even during the “dry season” rain is possible on the Pacific. Generally speaking, the driest months of the year are December – April. The rainiest months of the year are October and November. Those transition months of the year (May – September) are considered the best for bird watchers. Birding Costa Rica best time is during “off-season” as the country has fewer tourists which means better conditions for bird watching in the National Parks. Fewer visitors, fewer crowds, less noise equals better bird watching.
- The Osa Peninsula is THE highlight destination for bird watchers and nature lovers but it’s not wise to travel to the Osa during the months of September, October, and November. Many lodges, close during these months due to the torrential rainfall. The rest of the year, it’s a MUST VISIT.
- The Northern Pacific (Guanacaste) is the driest, sunniest part of the country. The months of January – March can be very windy. Bird watching in very windy conditions is challenging. Between the noise of blowing trees, and not being able to differentiate between blowing leaves and movement of birds, those months are challenging. I love the months of May and June in Guanacaste as the rains will begin slowly and the trees and flowers come alive with color. It’s really beautiful AND great birding.
It’s always best to talk about your vacation with a birding specialist. This way you’ll get a trip that will exceed your expectations.