Birding in Costa Rica
I was attracted to Costa Rica to explore its lush jungles, mighty volcanoes and the dramatic coastline. Little did I know that I would return home with a new hobby. I was well aware of Costa Rica’s reputation as the most biodiverse country on Earth and I was eager for the opportunity to spot monkeys, sloths, coatis, wild cats, frogs and whatever else I was lucky enough to observe. I also knew that Costa Rica was a birding paradise but I really didn’t give much thought to that. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy birds but honestly I really didn’t pay that much attention to them. Costa Rica changed that.
Three flights and one hour long bumpy jeep ride delivered me to the Osa Peninsula in the remote Southwestern portion of Costa Rica, the lodge my new Eden. Set on a cliff overlooking the Pacific surrounded by rainforest this area was full of sights and sounds unlike any I’d experienced. Within minutes of arriving flashes of red gracefully gliding through the sky caught my eye. Scarlet macaws call the Osa home and its impossible not to be fascinated by these sunset colored beauties.
I soon started noticing the avian bounty around me. Fierce raptors, zippy little hummingbirds and a variety of jewel toned songbirds beckoned. Often we’d have great sightings right from the dining area, eating with binoculars and cameras at the ready. It wasn’t uncommon for a small hummingbird to cause the dining area to jump up and leave half eaten breakfasts in hopes of capturing the tiny bird’s antics.
Arenal, famous for its volcano, thermal hot springs and adventure activities is another haven for birders. I was woken in the morning by the work of woodpeckers, joined on a hike by a curious broad billed mot-mot(he followed us for a good 10 minutes!), and caught the silhouette of the turkey like guan roosting in the treetop at dusk.
On my last morning I got quite the show during breakfast. We heard a ruckus in the trees about 40 feet away and spotted the distinctive bills of a pair of toucans. I focused my binoculars on the pair to find them raiding another bird’s nest and eating the eggs! Who knew they were predatory?!? It was in that moment I discovered how much was going on above me if only I took the time to look up. I was hooked.
I once thought birding to be the province of retirees and die hard naturalists but I’m happy to now count myself among their ranks. I wasn’t a birder when I went to Costa Rica but I certainly came back as one.