Trip report: Costa Rica custom tour (May 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Fito Downs and Jose Illanes. This was a custom tour, but it visited many of the same sites as our Comprehensive tour.

Report written by Fito Downs. Photos by Jose Illanes.

During our Comprehensive Costa Rica Tour (border to border) we witnessed why this country is sometimes called the “Birding Republic” among hardcore birders, nature lovers and wildlife photographers.

This was a very different tour compared to most other regular Tropical Birding Tours here in Costa Rica. We covered most of the country from the southern rainforest lowlands to some of the most impressive habitats such as the Paramo at more than eleven thousand feet at Cerro de la Muerte, and then continued moving into the Turrialba Volcano foothills, and from there all the way to the north region of the country near Nicaraguan border. We ended up in the lush cloud forest of Monteverde and the dry forest in the southern tip of Guanacaste province.

Basically, our plan for this tour was focus on finding some of the most difficult bird species throughout the country, for example the localized and endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, the elusive Yellow-billed Cotinga, and highland specialties such as Ochraceous Pewee, Dusky Nightjar, Bare-shanked Screech-Owl and the so-called “ghost” the rarely seen Unspotted Saw-whet Owl. We also tracked down Tawny-chested Flycatcher, Blue-and-Gold Tanager, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Nicaraguan Grackle, Keel-billed Motmot, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Thicket Tinamou and the bird of the trip, the spectacular Bare-necked Umbrellabird.

That is why the final trip list is not so long as can usually be. We concentrated our energies into specific targets outlined by the clients on the tour, and this being a Custom Tour was run according to the client’s explicit needs. At the end of the tour we finished our list with the incredible amount of 34 species of hummingbirds, 9 species of trogons, all the toucans of the country (6 total), 16 species of wrens and an amazing amount of 13 species of woodpeckers.

The birds TOP THREE BIRDS of the trip were:

Bare-necked Umbrellabird

Unspotted Saw-whet Owl

Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl

Read the full TROPICAL BIRDING Costa Rica Report (PDF format; 9 MB size file).