GET YOUR BIRDS!
Similar to Caño Negro, the San Vito area is another frontier where many species expanding their range from Panama have been found, and the collage of agricultural land, rain forest and rain-shadowed oak forests give home to some spectacular species. Turquoise Cotinga, Blue-crowned and Lance-tailed Manakins, Marbled Wood-Quail, Crested Oropendulas, Masked Yellowthroats and the all-time favorite White-crested Coquette are a small sampling from this area.
A superb combination of habitats makes Arenal difficult to turn away from. Many of the big showy birds like Great Curassows, Crested Guans and toucans are abundant, plus the added bonus of getting a decent chance at all the antbirds, Lovely Cotinga, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Lanceolated Monklet and White-throated Shrike-Tanager. Although it can rain a fair bit, birding is phenomenal. Oh, and there is a big volcano in the background!
The area surrounding Carara is blessed ecologically because there are many different ecosystems that come together in one spot. Rain forest, dry forest, mangroves and ocean all converge and it is only a matter of a short drive to go from seeing frigatebirds and herons to antpittas and manakins, and this is precisely the greatest thing about this area. Carara National Park always provides a quality selection of neotropical families from tinamous and antbirds to trogons and manakins.
Cerro de la Muerte
There are fewer species up in the high mountains of Costa Rica, but they are very unique. A combination of giant oak forests and bamboo covered páramo host fantastic birds such as Volcano Junco, Timberline Wren, Long-tailed Silky Flycatchers, Flame-throated Warblers and the Fiery-throated Hummingbird with its supernova colored gorget. I must mention of course the bird everyone wants to see, the Resplendant Quetzal and one species I am particularly fond of, the Unspotted Saw-whet Owl.
Rural Costa Rica at its best, Caño Negro is always an exciting place to go birding. Its proximity to the Nicaraguan border and Lake Nicaragua make it very different than the rest of the Caribbean lowlands. Caño Negro is probably best known for its wetlands and water birds; six species of kingfishers, Jabiru, Black-collared Hawk, Pinnated Bittern and Spot-breasted Wren are just a very small selection. The diversity of owls, potoos and nightjars here is also great.
Las Brisas Nature Reserve
Las Brisas Nature Reserve is located in a truly unique spot on the slopes of Volcán Turrialba, in the Caribbean foothills which are famous in the birding world for the spectacular mixed species flocks: Tanagers, woodcreepers, tyrannulets, antwrens, warblers and ovenbirds form one of the most exciting events in the forest. Mixed species flocks here take on new scale and some of the flocks on the reserve can have 35 different species of birds, and over 250 individuals!
I grew up birding in Tapantí and its surroundings and I am intimately acquainted with the area. When I think about Tapantí a particular group of birds comes to mind, ovenbirds and woodcreepers which haunt the epiphyte laden trees, but there are also many colorful birds including Red-headed Barbet, Emerald Toucanet, Azure-headed Jays and Collared Trogon. The areas nearby have a diversity of habitats with localized species such as Three-wattled Bellbird, Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow an Sedge Wren.