Finding Birds in Costa Rica
by Richard Garrigues
(C) Richard Garrigues all rights reserved
Planning on birding in Costa Rica? Want to maximize the number of birds seen and/or concentrate on endemics during your visit? Then read on, because you've come to the right place.
Some say, "Birds are where you find them." Certainly there's an element of truth in that statement, otherwise rare bird alert hotlines would not exist. Nonetheless, most birds have specific habitats that they prefer, and if you want to see them, you'd better know where to look.
Written accounts of where to find birds in particular localities are of aid to newcomers to a region, but are no substitute for an experienced local guide. Several such books are now available for Costa Rica, which is additionally blessed by having an excellent field guide (A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, by F. Gary Stiles and Alexander F. Skutch, Cornell University Press, 1989) that covers more than 850 species. But if you were on your first visit to the neotropics and you saw a woodcreeper foraging in the midst of a mixed species flock, would you be certain of which species it was when things quieted down and you finally had a chance to check the field guide?
Basically, there are two ends to the birding tour spectrum: you go it on your own, or you travel with an organized group. Each has its advantages (and also disadvantages), and I'll leave it up to you to figure them out. What I want to offer is an alternative that combines the best of both worlds: the flexibility and freedom of individual travel, and the enriched experience that can only be had in the company of an expert tour leader. I'm referring, of course, to privately guided birding tours.
I am Richard Garrigues and I'd like to put my years of experience in Costa Rica to work for you! Just drop me a line at the e-mail address below and tell me when you'd like to visit Costa Rica and what birds you're especially interested in, and I'll design an itinerary that will give you the best possible chances of seeing what you want to see.
Wondering who I am? Here are a few of my credentials:
To spare you the trouble of sifting through the field guide to come up with a list of the endemic (including regional endemic) bird species for Costa Rica, here they are:
COSTA RICA ENDEMIC LIST
*also present on Caribbean slope
**also present on southern Pacific slope
Additionally, the Hoffmann’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii) is unique in being the only dry forest species endemic to the region , it’s range extends from southern Honduras to central Costa Rica.
And then there’s the Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata) that breeds in the highlands and wanders widely throughout the lowlands after the breeding season—a bird radio-tagged in Monteverde, Costa Rica was even located in eastern Honduras!—and so does not easily fit in any one of the above geographical divisions. All in all, fully 10% of Costa Rica’s avifauna is restricted to very limited ranges within the southern half of the Central American isthmus, which is an exceptionally high rate of endemism, even for the neotropics.
So, interested in the idea of a tropical sojourn in search of these and other goodies? E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And let’s go birding!
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