There are innumerable excellent websites and guides to birding and birds in Costa Rica so we won’t try to repeat them. Like many other people it was the diversity of wildlife, habitats and ecosystems that drew us first to Costa Rica in 2010. We have since visited many times and have been fortunate enough to visit some of the better birding areas in the country including Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio, Arenal and Carara National Parks and the cloud forest reserves in Monteverde.
It has been our experience that there are very few bad places for birding in Costa Rica. Every town, village, beach and side road seems to offer up some wonderful sightings. Below are just a few of the places we have enjoyed.
Current Costa Rica bird count: 280
Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano
Our very first visit to Costa Rica brought us to this area and we still enjoy it immensely. We have had very nice sightings at the Mistico Hanging Bridges and surrounding areas at the eastern end of Lake Arenal near the dam. A hike through Arenal NP provided our first ever sighting of a chestnut-mandibled toucan. We were so excited. We have also stayed near the small town of Nuevo Arenal on the eastern end of the lake and enjoyed excellent birding.
We have spent a considerable amount of time in Guanacaste Province and have found the birding to be quite varied. There are many seasonal migrants along the coasts, and we have never been there in the rainy season. Some of the areas we have sent time in include: Nosara, Playas del Coco, Brasilito and Flamingo. One of the birding highlights was watching a small flock of scissor-tailed flycatchers one evening over Flamingo.
Punteranas to Manuel Antonio NP
This portion of the Costa Rican coastline contains many excellent birding hotspots. Some of the places we have had the opportunity to visit and would recommend include Carara and Manuel Antonio National Parks, the Tarcoles River estuary and a very productive lagoon behind the beach at Bajamar.
During our most recent visit to Costa Rica we finally made it to Monteverde. This is a internationally renowned birding destination, as well as containing important cloud forest reserves. We were not disappointed and loved the area not only for the birding but also for the friendliness and overall spirit of the community. The highlights for us were our first sightings of both the resplendent quetzal and the three-wattled bellbird. There are four reserves to chose from and during our stay we hiked in both the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Curi-Cancha Reserve.