Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals Feb 24—Mar 04, 2018

Posted by David Wolf


David Wolf

David Wolf is a senior member of the VENT staff and one of our most experienced tour leaders. After birding the U.S. and Mexico for over a decade, an interest in the wildli...

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Costa Rica continues to amaze us, even after many trips over many years.  There is such an astounding wealth of things for the naturalist to see and do in this small, efficient, bird-friendly country!  Our 2018 “Short Costa Rica” tour took full advantage of this abundance for an action-packed week of birding, enjoying the spectacular scenery and fabulous vegetation almost as much as the birds themselves as we explored three very different environments, from the Caribbean lowlands to the high temperate mountains.  Every day brought highlights, and by the end of the week we had seen some of the most special birds of Central America.  Just as important, we saw them well and learned a lot while doing so.  The lodges where we stayed were comfortable and homey, open to the birds and flowers; the people were friendly; and yes, the coffee was good too.

Great Green Macaw

Great Green Macaw— Photo: David Wolf


The birds came fast and furious, beginning right in the lovely garden of our hotel in San Jose, where we watched the display flights of Red-billed Pigeons, enjoyed the antics of Rufous-naped Wrens, and finally had great looks at the noisy Brown Jays, amongst other commoner species.  We then moved on to the La Paz Waterfall Garden in the lush subtropical zone.  The day was partly sunny and warm, and birds were quiet and slow to appear, so we spent our time studying our first hummingbirds, sorting out 9 species buzzing around the feeders, including foothill specialties like Green Hermit, Black-bellied Hummingbird, and Green Thorntail.  By mid-afternoon it was time to move towards our lodging in the lowlands, but not before we made an impromptu stop at a simple Tico restaurant whose balcony looks out to a deep canyon with a waterfall.  The view was spectacular, but it was the bird feeders just off the balcony that stunned us.  They were simply swarming with activity, dominated by 3 Emerald Toucanets, but in quick succession we also spotted a glittering horde of Silver-throated Tanagers, a male Red-headed Barbet, saltators, Black-cowled Oriole and more.  Best of all, a Prong-billed Barbet appeared at such close range we could actually study its strange bill and watch as it rammed it into the papaya to hold the fruit steady as it fed.  This strange bird is one of only two members of its family and one of the most unique regional specialties.

Read David’s full report in his Field Report.