Costa Rica Bird Checklist

Costa Rica bird checklist is such a treat! Over 900 species of birds on a tiny territory; the birding hotspots of Costa Rica include 12 ecosystems and it is possible to find the most amazing bird species in this country within relatively short distances. No wonder Costa Rica Bird hotspots are recognized worldwide among birding experts and that bird watching in Costa Rica is considered an outstanding experience.

Download your copy of  Costa Rica bird checklist in PDF format – click here to download –

Happy birding!


We’re also sharing our recommendations which Costa Rica bird hotspots are worth visiting once in a lifetime, along with the species you are most likely to see:

Costa Rica Birding Hotspot #1—Carara National Park & Tarcoles River

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. Carara is the home of the most successful Scarlet Macaw rehabilitation program in Costa Rica. Visitors can expect to see the colorful pairs of macaws in the trees and flying above the forest. Taking the trails will yield the opportunity to see antbirds, raptors, trogons, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, wood creepers, and so much more. Keep your eyes open for cats too, as Carara is home to margays and ocelots as well as the very elusive jaguar.

The Tarcoles River: the unique location of the Tarcoles River and its easy and productive birding makes it one of the top bird watching & photography sites in all of Central America. Forming the Northern border of Carara National Park and situated in the transition zone between the Tropical Dry Forest to the North and the Pacific Rainforest to the South, the Tarcoles River is the meeting place for an incredible abundance of bird life. Over 300 species of birds have been observed on the river, including native, migratory and coastal birds.

Green and Rufous Kingfisher in Costa Rica - Chloroceryl inda

Green and Rufous Kingfisher in Costa Rica – Chloroceryl inda

Costa Rica Bird Checklist for Hotspot #2—San Isidro del General

This intermontane, beautiful valley is just east of the highest peak in Costa Rica, Mt. Chirripo (12,532 ft.). While primarily an agricultural area of the country, visitors will also find numerous groves of secondary forest. Being at the foothills of the Talamanca Mountains provides numerous bird habitats including foothills, middle elevations, tropical and cloud forests. This diversity provides the perfect environment for an extremely wide array of bird species. San Isidro del General was home to the famous Naturalist, Dr. Alexander Skutch. His home, Los Cusingos, still stands and is a wonderful place for birders to visit for bird watching and photography.

Charming Hummingbird Costa Rica - Amazilia decora

Charming Hummingbird in Costa Rica – Amazilia decora

Costa Rica Birding Hotspot #3— Palo Verde National Park

Palo Verde is a remote national park covering 16,000 hectares of the Pacific Slope of Costa Rica. Located in the province of Guanacaste, the park is a combination of dry tropical forest, marshlands, mangroves, and secondary forest. The park is a very important breeding ground for resident birds and the wintering home of migratory species. The combination of rivers, wetlands, and forest creates an extraordinary habitat for hundreds of species of birds. Palo Verde is also the top spot for seeing the Jabiru Stork.

Roseate Spoonbill Costa Rica - Platalea ajaja - Costa Rica Bird Checklist

Roseate Spoonbill in Palo Verde – Platalea ajaja

Costa Rica Birding Hotspot #4— La Selva Biological Station

La Selva’s influence on tropical ecology is immeasurable. It serves 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. It has 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.

Sunbittern - Eurypyga helias- Costa Rica Bird Checklist

Sunbittern – Eurypyga helias- La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica

Hotspot #5—Talamanca Highlands—San Gerardo de Dota

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 a fruiting wild avocado trees, the Quetzal’s favorite food.

Resplendent Quetzal - Pharomachrus mocinno - Costa Rica Bird Checklist

Resplendent Quetzal – Pharomachrus mocinno – San Gerardo de Dota

Costa Rica Birding Hotspot #6: Turrialba—Rancho Naturalista

Located on the Caribbean Foothills of the Turrialba Volcano, the private reserve of Rancho Naturalista is a paradise for birders and bird photographers. There are more than 450 different species of birds recorded at the lodge and surrounding forest. A visit here is a combination of enjoying the spectacular feeders from the cozy terrace, exploring the forest trails, visiting the lush gardens (famous for the Snowcap Hummingbird), watching the quiet pools each afternoon as the hummingbirds come to bathe, and checking the quiet river banks for Sunbitterns, dippers, and more. Along with the superb birding at Rancho Naturalista, the area also gives opportunities to visit Cerro El Silencio, Tuis River Valley, La Mina, and Tapanti. All excellent spots for birding and photography.

Snowcap Hummingbird - Microchera albocoronata

Snowcap Hummingbird – Microchera albocoronata – Rancho Naturalista

Costa Rica Bird Checklist for Hotspot #7—Boca Tapada

Near the Northern border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua lies the small town of San Carlos. The Laguna del Lagarto Eco-Lodge sits there, in the middle of 1235 acres of pristine tropical rainforest. So far, there have been 350 species of birds logged at and around the lodge. There are 10 kilometers of rainforest trails, hummingbird gardens, a blind to photograph King Vultures, and an excellent photography platform all ready to host avid bird watchers and passionate photographers.

King Vulture - Sarcoramphus papa

King Vulture – Sarcoramphus papa – Boca Tapada Costa Rica

Hotspot #8: Arenal Volcano Area — Arenal Observatory Lodge

The town of La Fortuna is home to the majestic Arenal Volcano. This perfect cone volcano casts an imposing backdrop to the small town and surrounding farmlands. The Caribbean Foothills, with pre-montane forest, primary tropical rainforest, secondary forest, and pasture lands assures that birders and photographers will have an amazing experience observing many bird species and getting the top shots of their trip. A stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge is a must.

The lodge was formerly the research for The Smithsonian Institute. It now serves as a comfortable lodge for birders, photographers, and nature lovers. With an 870 acre private reserve, guests can expect to see an extremely wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects.

White Fronted Nunbird - Monasa morphoeus

White Fronted Nunbird – Monasa morphoeus – Arenal Volcano

Hotspot #9: Corcovado National Park—Osa Peninsula

Ranked by National Geographic as one of the top three National Parks of the world and the most biologically intense place on Earth, Corcovado is a nature lovers paradise. The park is comprised of an enormous 103,290 acres (41,800 hectares) that fill up nearly a third of the Osa Peninsula.

Understandably, it’s one of Costa Rica’s premier wildlife viewing destinations, as its rain forests host an unbelievable amount of biodiversity – over 140 species of mammals, including the jaguar and endangered Baird’s tapir, 400 species of birds and 116 species of reptiles. It is one of the few places to see all four species of monkeys that inhabit Costa Rica. For nature lovers, birders and bird photographers, Corcovado is a must visit destination.


Yellow-billed Cotinga - Carpodectes antoniae

Yellow-billed Cotinga – Carpodectes antoniae – Corcovado National Park

Costa Rica Bird Checklist for Hotspot #10—Monteverde

Founded in 1972, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is among the most famous reserves in the world for its biodiversity, conservation, contributions, and scientific research. This 7,400 acre parcel of land holds 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity, and it is one of the most important private reserves in Costa Rica.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is set at an elevation of 4724 ft (1440 m) above sea level. At this elevation, the Cloud Forest Reserve, Santa Elena Reserve, and Curi Cancha Reserve attract more than 400 different species of birds.

Three-wattled bellbird - Procnias tricarunculatus- Costa Rica

Three-wattled bellbird – Procnias tricarunculatus

For more resources on Costa Rica bird checklist, we recommend checking Avibase’s digital database that follows the taxonomic order and nomenclature of Clements, version 2019.

Or wikipedia page, List of birds in Costa Rica, that is maintained on basis of the official bird list published by the Costa Rican Rare Birds and Records Committee of the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica. 

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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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