Humming bird with Strelitzia flower
Costa Rica Flad

Costa Rica

The small Central American country of Costa Rica is trully a birdwatcher and nature lovers paradise and a great introduction to the wildlife of the neotropics.

This tiny country is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean and east by the Caribbean Sea, as well as Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. It is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna yet only has 0.03% of the world’s landmass, which is estimated to contain 5% of the world’s biodiversity with an incredible 10% of the worlds bird species. With smiling people, sunny beaches, simmering volcanoes, humid jungles and misty mountain tops its no wonder it has become such a popular wildlife destination. With many activities related to ecotourism, including trekking, flora, fauna, birdwatching and nature photography, as well as easy travel, wonderful lodges and an ever growing band of excellent guides who can show you the wildlife, this is one country everyone should visit at least once. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the happiest nation in the world, as well as the “greenest” country in the world. A fantastic accolade that sets Costa Rica as a role model that other country’s are desperately trying to follow. With no army it is very safe to visit, and excellent infrastructure makes traveling around very easy. For the adventurous Costa Rica also comprises several islands. The Cocos Islands which are a national park approx (24 square kilometres or 9.3 square miles) and 80km (300 mi) from Puntarenas. These islands stands out mostly because of the fantastic diving opportunities, although for birdwatchers 3 species of birds are endemic making the challenge of getting to these remote islands all the more enticing.

Hotspots & Wildlife: 
Monteverde: This cloud forest reserve is rightly famous as one of the places that the fabulous Resplendent Quetzal can be seen. This iconic bird nests in the moist, moss laden forests and is high on the list to see of many birdwatchers. In the breeding season the call of the Three-wattled Bellbird can be heard up to 5km away, while forest streams can hold the spectacular Sunbittern as well as a great variety of rare and endemic dragonflies. Chiriqui Quail-Doves inhabit the understory while hummingbird feeders near the entrance to the reserve are a great attraction often with up to 6 or 7 species including the endemic Coppery-headed Emerald, the flashy Violet Sabrewing and the delicate looking Magenta-throated Woodstar. A lot of the mammals are elusive but with luck you could come across the beautiful Ocelot, Tayra or a Peccary. Butterflies, Reptiles, Amphibians and even orchids are all numerous so there is no end of delightful things to look for.

Carara National Park:
One of the most popular national parks because of its easy access from arriving passenger ships, and just a couple of hours from the capitol San Jose, it allows a good introduction to tropical forest birding and the possibilities of a few interesting mammals. A couple of trails make it possible to see birds such as Scarlet Macaw, Great Tinamou, Northern Royal Flycatcher and the delightful Orange-collared Manakins at their dance grounds (lek). Mammals can include White-faced Capuchin monkeys, Central American Agouti, and sometimes Ocelot or Oncilla. Several species of tiny Poison-Dart Frogs can be found among the leaf litter, huge Helicopter Damselflies flutter through the forest and nearby from the Tarcoles road bridge you can watch enormous Central American Crocodiles. A boat trip on the Tarcoles River will get you close to Boat-billed Herons, American Pygmy Kingfisher and a variety of waterbirds. 

Sarapiqui Area:
The most famous birdwatching and wildlife area here is the La Selva Biological Station. It encompasses 1,536 ha of low-land tropical rain forest and is owned and operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). With hundreds of scientists studying every aspect of nature it is probably one of the most studied areas in the world. It is estimated that La Selva contains over 500,000 species, with more than half of these about 300,000 being insect species. Over half the reserve is characterized by primary forest and the wet tropical climate makes everywhere look lush and green. The reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife and with 5,000 species of vascular plants and more than 700 species of tree it is a must place to visit for any naturalist. Large predators such as Jaguar and Puma exist but are rarely seen, but it is fairly easy to find Collared Peccary or Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth. The reserve is said to have recorded 467 species of birds many of which are rare or seldom seen. Great Green Macaws regularly fly over and species such as Snowy Cotinga, Rufous Motmot, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Pied Puffbird, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Agami Heron and Red-capped Manakin are all possible. Endemic species of dragonfly can be found beside hundreds of butterflies including the impressive Blue Morpho. There are many other sites nearby where Spectacled Owl, Fasciated Tiger-Heron and Sungrebe can be sought and just 30 minutes drive you can visit the Cope’s Reserve where Honduran White Bats, Crested Owl and many other species can be seen.  

For accommodations and lodges throughout Costa Rica
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SPECIES of interest

Lodges in Costa Rica

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Places To Stay

To see full details of each accommodation please click on a photo to be taken to our main Wildlife Lodges webpage

  • Species – 921

  • Endemics – 8

Spangle-cheeked Tanager


Resplendent Quetzal 
Three-wattled Bellbird 
Mangrove Hummingbird (Endemic)
Coppery-headed Emerald (Endemic)
Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (Endemic)
Cocos Cuckoo (Endemic)
Cocos Flycatcher (Endemic)
Cocos Finch (Endemic)
Grey-tailed Mountaingem (Endemic)
Cabanis’s Ground Sparrow (Endemic)
Bare-necked Umbrellbird
Swallow-tailed Kite
Lesser Ground Cuckoo
Black-crested Coquette
Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl
Turquiose Cotinga

Lanceolated Monklet
Unspotted Saw-whet Owl
King Vulture
Fiery-throated Hummingbird
Scarlet Macaw
Rufous Motmot
Snowy Cotinga
Yellow-eared Toucanet
Volcano Hummingbird
Spectacled Owl
Great Green Macaw
Great Potoo
Baird’s Trogon
Orange-collared Manakin
Spotted Wood-Quail
Chestnut-colored Woodpecker
Full List – Click here  
  • Species – 250

  • Endemics  – 6

Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth


Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth
Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth
Silky Anteater
Northern Tamandua
Nine-banded Armadillo
Central American Squirrel Monkey
Mantled Howler
Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey
White-headed Capuchin
Mexican Hairy Dwarf Porcupine
Central American Agouti
Lowland Paca

Crab-eating Raccoon
White-nosed Coati
Northern Olingo
Long-tailed Weasel
Greater Grison
Neotropical River Otter
Baird’s Tapir
Collared Peccary
White-lipped Peccary
Derby’s Woolly Opossum
Virginia Opossum
Gray Four-eyed Opossum
Brown Four-eyed Opossum
Striped Hog-nosed Skunk
Honduran White Bat
Tent-making Bat
Full List – Click here  
  • Reptile Species – 225+
  • Endemics – 20
  • Amphibian Species – 175+
  • Endemics – 54

Red-eyed Tree Frog


Spectacled Caiman
Helmeted Iguana
White-Lipped Mud Turtle
Rainbow Boa
Black River Turtle
American Crocodile
False Fer-de-Lance
Black-headed Bushmaster
White-tailed Hog-nosed Pitviper
Striped Littersnake
Viquez’s Tropical Ground Snake
High Anole
Monteverde Anole
Osa Anole
Tenorio Anole
Cocos Anole
Cocos Pygmy Gecko
Collared Wormsnake

Red-eyed Tree Frog
Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
Green and Black Poison Dart Frog
Golfo Dulce Poison Frog
Chirripo Stubfoot Toad
Golden Toad
Green-striped Glass Frog
Puntarenas Robber Frog
Sabana Robber Frog
Blue-sided Leaf Frog
Rufous-eyed Stream Frog
Green-eyed Frog
Tapanti Mushroomtongue Salamander
Tapantí Giant Salamander
Red-footed Climbing Salamander
Monteverde Moss Salamander
Tapanti Moss Salamander
Costa Rican Caecilian
  • Species – 275

Amazon Sapphirewing


Amazon Sapphirewing 
Peten Dasher 
Mexican Scarlet-tail
Straw-colored Sylph
Hercules Skimmer
Armed Knobtail
Fiery Darner
Flame-tailed Pondhawk
Morton’s Skimmer
Black Dasher
Amber-banded Clubskimmer
Sooty Saddlebags
Gold-tipped Darner
Andagoya Dragonlet
Mesoamerican Spiketail
Amazon Red Darner
Brilliant Redskimmer

Blue-winged Helicopter 
Bromeliad Helicopter
Mountain Flatwing
Racket-tipped Rubyspot
Variable Cora
Nathalia Shadowdamsel
Tikal Spreadwing
Red-and-black Flatwing
Crimson Threadtail
Caribbean Yellowface
Sulfury Threadtail
Red-tipped Swampdamsel
Gree-eyed Firetail
Ruby Dancer
Bristle-tipped Dancer
Costa Rican Wedgetail
Amelia’s Threadtail
Chirripo Cora