Ten gorgeous birds to see in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is just like a Paradise for the birdwatchers. With its rich biodiversity this country is home of more than 900 species of birds among which 600 species call Costa Rica their home all year round and 200 migrate from temperate zones. There are small hummingbirds, amazing species as the Resplendent Quetzal and hawk eagles, toucans, parrots, tanagers and many more. These birds differ in their color, size, sound, behavior, and flight. Among so many different species of colorful birds there are some birds that are very popular such as scarlet macaw. These colorful birds attract many birdwatchers including experienced bird spotter as well as first-timers from around the world. Here goes a list of Ten gorgeous birds to see in Costa Rica:


QuetzalNot only of Costa Rica Quetzal is also considered as one of the top bird species on the world. Though it occurs in the cloud forest in other parts of Central America in great number, it is also fairly easy to see in several places in Costa Rica. In Central America the famous Quetzal got its name from the Aztec word for precious or beautiful. The month of March to June July, during the mating season, is the best time to watch this gorgeous bird. This species of bird belongs to the family of Torgons, a medium size bird with compact bodies and short necks. Quetzal males have green bodies with red breasts and heads with a ridged crest and it gets magnificent tail feathers during the breeding season. You can visit Monteverde and especially San Gerardo de Dota to see the Quetzal with the help of a guide.

Scarlet Macaw:

In America, Macaws are the largest parrots and the Scarlet Macaw is distinct both in shape and color. Costa Rica is a modern day hotspot for this spectacular bird. In many parts of the country they are easy to watch and most commonly found the Pacific slope than the Caribbean. You can find then in the trees of lowland or tropical evergreen forests that are solid or patchy. With its long and pointed tail feather, short wings and large body, this bird is totally different from any other bird of Costa Rica. It can crack tough seed coats and nuts with its large strong bill. Its back, head and lower tail is covered by bright red feathers and it has bold blue spreads across the wings and lower back with large strips of bold yellow above them. Scarlet Macaw has pinkish white facial skin the color of the bill is ivory and black.

Ornate Hawk Eagle:

This species is popular for its vivid colors which differ markedly between adult and immature birds. In length this medium-large raptor is about 56.0–68.5 cm and 117–142 cm across the wings. Ornate Hawk Eagle is usually weighing about 960-1,650 g. When it becomes excited it raised its prominent pointed crest. The color of its bill is black and it has broad wings, a long rounded tail. Both male and female birds are similar but the young birds have a white head and under parts and has a grey crest, brown upper parts and on the legs and flanks they have barring. The adult has blackish upper parts and crown. They also have bright chestnut sides to the breast and neck, central breast and a black-edged white throat. Their under parts and feathered legs have white barred with black color and the tail has broad black bars. The color of their under wings are white with barred flight feathers. As these birds have heavy pattern, they usually look dark at the time of flying. This big raptor seems to be more commonly seen in Costa Rica than many other countries. In the cloud forest and rainforest sites of the country this eagle can regularly be seen.

Long-tailed Manakin:

Tropical dry and subtropical moist forests are home to the Long-tailed Manakin. It also lives in gallery forests in the northwest and it also found on the borders of mangrove swamps and in tall secondary growth. On the side of Central America from southern Mexico to central Costa Rica this bird species is also found. In the northwestern part of the country and in the lowlands up to 1,500 m on the Pacific slope, stretching to the Carara and Dota region, including the Valle Central this birds is also found in large number. It is also found on the Caribbean slope, from Ochomogo to Juan Vinas and along the Cordillera de Guanacaste. The male bird has a brighter crown with a crimson red color and the color of the back and shoulders is pale blue. It also has two very elongated tail feathers that double the length of the body. The color of the rest of the body is black and the legs and feet have orange color. Its tail feathers are only slightly elongated.


With their short, compact bodies, short thick necks, small wings and lightly colored bills, Toucans are easy to recognize. Toucans differ with their sizes (30 to 60 cm). They have their bills in almost inside and that is an important tool to handle their nutrition. They have rounded tails that vary in length from half the length to the whole length of the body. These birds have strong and rather short legs and their toes are arranged in pairs with the first and fourth toes turned backward. Toucans generally live in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They usually lay 2-21 white eggs in their nests that they make in the tree hollows and also in the holes created by other birds like woodpeckers. These birds play important role in spreading tropical forests.


These birds are among the smallest of birds. Hummingbirds are familiar for their humming sound created by their beating wings which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They can make wing-flapping typically around 50 times per second. Of the existing 330 hummingbird species, over 50 can be found in Costa Rica. These birds can be identified easily for their distinctive long bills and peculiar way of flying. Most of the hummingbirds are found in the size of 5 to 15 cm and they weigh from 2 to 10 grams. These birds have heart beats 600 to 1200 times per minute. These birds usually feed almost exclusively on flower nectar mostly the flowers with thin tubes and colors of red, orange or pink.

Red-headed Barbet:

In Costa Rica Red-headed Barbet is usually found in humid highland forest areas. This spectacularly colored bird species is conspicuous as it moves about middle and upper strata with mixed flocks or feeds in fruiting trees. Male birds have bright red color head and breast contrast with the green upperparts. They have horn-colored bill. The female birds don’t have the red color and has pearly blue-gray cheeks. This species of birds feed primarily on fruit and also take arthropods. They usually make their nest in an enlarged woodpecker cavity or make self- excavated hole in a rotting tree.

Turquoise-browed Motmot:

This species of bird can commonly seen in the lowlands of the northern Pacific slope up to 800 m all year round and sometimes it can also be found in the Valle Central. It is also found in the tropical dry forest of Guanacaste and northern Puntarenas. There is also some larger Turquoise-browed Motmot that can be found at higher elevations and in wetter habitats, such as in Monteverde. These birds have rough, hoarse calls include a distinct honk and kawukawuk. They have black mask around the eyes and on the face and throat they have black and turquoise streaks. The color of its breast and head is olive green but the back and underside are rufous, the underside a shape lighter. Due to its two long tail feather with racket-tips at the end of long bare shafts, this bird‘s shape is distinct. These birds don’t get this type of feather shape genetically rather it develops as the weaker middle portion of the feather is rubbed off against branches or other objects.


This species of bird is usually found near forested streams in the foothills and lowlands of Central and South America. These birds are something like a cross between a rail and a small heron. These non-migrant birds are cryptic with their large wings that exhibit a pattern that resemble eyes, when they feel threatened. Sunbittern are frequently kept in zoos where there are many records of pairs breeding successfully. These birds make their open nests in trees at the time of early wet season and before it starts they make flight displays 10–15 m high in the forest canopy. Sunbitterns lay two eggs with blotched markings. After hatching, the young birds remain in the nest for several weeks.

Three-wattled Bellbird:

In Costa Rica Three-Wattled Bellbird lives on both slopes of the country. These birds are usually found in the middle to upper forest levels within lowland to Montane regions between 900 to 3,000 m or higher an in the breeding season. In Costa Rica this species of bird is often considered as one of the stranger-looking birds. The name of this bird is for the male’s three skinny, extended gray-black wattles-worm-looking skin structures-which hang from his bill. The female birds don’t have these wattles and looks entirely different from the male. Both male and female adults have a sturdy, heavy body and a large black bill. The female bird is olive green color and has a yellow line on her head. It also has skinny yellow eye-ring, and a bright yellow underside with wide dark olive-green stripes. The male birds have white on its head, neck and chest, and a solid chestnut-rufous color over the rest of its body. Throughout most of the year, these birds remain silent but from the month of March through June male birds make a remarkable, far-carrying “boi-nng”.

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