Costa Rica has a nearly perfect climate. With year-round temperatures of about 72 degrees, perfect ocean breezes, warm sunshine, and just the right amount of rain, there is never a bad time to visit.
This ideal combination of climate and geography has helped Costa Rica become one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Also, its long history of peace and stability has helped the country preserve that ecological legacy, so that today nearly one third of the country is protected and preserved for the benefit of the region’s wildlife.
That dedication to eco-tourism has made Costa Rica one of the best places to go on a bird-watching vacation. There are more than 800 species of birds living here, in every habitat from the beaches to the rainforest to the mountains. Here are five exotic birds of Costa Rica that are well worth traveling to see.
- The brightly colored Scarlet Macaw can be found in large numbers in the Carara National Park. The bird is mostly scarlet, with splashes of blue and yellow, and you can’t miss them as they make a lot of noise. Every day, flocks of the Scarlet Macaws commute from their roosts on the coast to the park and then back again, giving you a remarkable chance to see great clouds of these bright birds in flight.
- The Blue-Crowned Motmot is a beautiful black bird that nests in tunnels and can be found in the forests of Costa Rica. Distinctive for its greenish body, blue crown and tail, long tail and yellow or orange breast, the Motmot can be hard to see in the forest, but can be easily spotted in the Parque del Este in San José.
- On Costa Rica’s lakes, the fascinating Jacana (or Jesus bird) is a delight to find. It is a tropical wader found in many countries around the world, and its large feet give it the ability to walk on top of the vegetation that grows on the lakes, giving them the appearance of walking on water. The jacana can often be found in the Palo Verde Biological Station near San José, which is an important breeding ground for these and other wading birds.
- The Jabiru Stork is the tallest flying bird in all of Central and South America, standing up to 5 feet tall. It is hard to miss this large white bird, with the black head and neck, as it heavily tromps around on the ground, or flies powerfully through the air. The best place to find the Jabiru is the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, which is a major nesting ground for many aquatic birds.
- Perhaps the most beautiful of all is the Resplendent Quetzal. Serious birders come to Costa Rica to see this gorgeous bird. This shimmering green bird with the red breast was worshipped by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, and today, it is the national bird of Guatemala. While its colors are brilliant, it’s the two foot feathers that draw the gasps. Look for them near the dramatically named Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death), or in the Monteverde cloud forest.
If you’re looking for one general area in which to see not one specific bird, but many different species, head to La Selva Biological Station, which is home to more than 300 different species of bird, making it one of the best places in Costa Rica for bird-watching.