The Best of Costa Rica Mar 20—Apr 01, 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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Even after many trips over many years we continue to be amazed by Costa Rica, so small in size but huge in possibilities!  There are few other places in the world where such a diversity of birds and other wildlife can be seen so readily, in such a compact area, and our 2018 Best of Costa Rica tour took full advantage of this wealth as we roamed from one side of the country to the other.  Costa Rica has done much to promote conservation, and this really paid off for us with an astounding number of birds seen on the trip, plus interesting mammals and more.  More important, most of them were seen well, including a number of large and spectacular species that have declined over much of their ranges.  We visited a wide variety of habitats and found nesting activity high and many birds in full song, all the while learning more about these tropical birds and their environments.  Such are the joys of birding in Costa Rica!

Boat-billed Heron

Boat-billed Heron— Photo: David Wolf


This tour covered four very different regions, each producing its own specialties and surprises.  After spotting our first birds in the hotel garden in San Jose, we traveled to the lush subtropical zone on the flanks of Volcan Poas, where our first stop produced scope views of a Ruddy Pigeon and a nest-building pair of stunning Golden-browed Chlorophonias.   Upon arriving at lovely Bosque de Paz Private Reserve, we found the hummingbird feeders and flowering shrubs swarming with half-a-dozen species of these vibrant creatures, a group that we would enjoy many times on this tour.  Distracting us was a comical White-nosed Coati that persisted in raiding the bird feeders, temporarily keeping our first gorgeous tanagers at bay, while that night a family group of 3 Pacas snuck in to the feeders.  This very large rodent is heavily hunted wherever it is found and rarely seen.  Forest walks here produced a nice assortment of birds of the subtropics, such as Red-faced Spinetail, Tufted Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, and Yellow-thighed Finch, and it was an exciting moment when a Black Guan emerged from the forest, but the undisputed highlight of our time here was a fabulous pair of Resplendent Quetzals perched quietly in the midstory of the tallest forest around.  This has become the iconic bird of Costa Rica, and it is not easy to find.  We were lucky to have these birds to ourselves, in this very beautiful and peaceful forest.

Read David’s full report in his Field Report.