Costa Rica: A Summary

Keel-billed Toucan

Our trip to Costa Rica was the first time either of us had been outside of North America. It is now the fourth country I’ve visited, and almost everything I saw was new to me – from the tiny Leafcutter Ants travelling up and down the trees and trails in long trains to the gigantic Jabiru, the largest bird in Costa Rica. Although hot and humid, the weather was cooperative almost the entire week we were there, except for a few late afternoon rain showers during our first three days. Although it wasn’t entirely a birding trip, the beach resort we stayed at was great for wildlife, and I saw a lot of great birds, mammals and insects even when we spent a relaxing day on the resort. Here is a summary of what I saw:


I saw too many species to list, so I’ll just give the highlights!

Total no. of species observed: 133
Total no. of life birds observed: 90
Total no. of life birds that were heard only: 4 (Cabanis’s Wren, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Lesser Greenlet, Barred Antshrike)
Favourite Life Bird: Montezuma Oropendola
Favourite non-Life Bird: Turquoise-browed Motmot

Total no. of species on the resort or within walking distance: 32
Favourite species seen on the resort: Plain-capped Starthroat, Pearl Kite, Inca Doves, Rufous-naped Wren, White-throated Magpie Jay, Orange-fronted Parakeet, Streak-backed Oriole

Total no. of species seen during our trip to Palo Verde area with Olivier Esquivel: 50
Favourite birds seen during our trip to Palo Verde: Jabiru, Feruginous Pygmy-owl, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Russet-naped Wood-rail

Total no. Of species seen during our trip to Santa Rosa: 27
Favourite birds seen during our trip to Santa Rosa: Crested Caracara, Great Curassow, Lesson’s Motmot, Elegant Trogon, Rufous-capped Warbler, Long-tailed Manakin

Total no of species seen during our trip to Curubanda: 57
Favourite birds seen during our trip: Montezuma Oropendola, Spotted Antbird, Tody Motmot, Common Tody Flycatcher

Russet-naped Wood-rail

Birds I would have liked better views of: Squirrel Cuckoo, Violet Sabrewing, Golden-hooded Tanager, Harris’s Hawk, Common Pauraque, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Steely-vented Hummingbird

Birds I was disappointed not to get photos of: Green Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Purple Gallinule, Snail Kite, Elegant Trogon, Stub-tailed Sapdebill, Long-tailed Manakin, Buff-rumped Warbler, all wrens other than the Rufous-naped Wren!

Notable misses: White-tipped Dove (no. 9 on my list of target species), Thicket Tinamou (no. 18), Olive Sparrow (no. 23), Nutting’s Flycatcher (no. 40), Pale-billed Woodpecker (no. 41), Roadside Hawk (no. 44), Boat-billed Heron (no. 61). These are based on the percentage of checklists reported and not necessarily the habitats we visited.



Not as many as I would have liked:

1. Mantled Howler Monkey
2. White-faced Capuchin
3. Central American Spider Monkey
4. Variegated Squirrel
5. Raccoon
6. White-nosed Coati
7. Long-nosed Bat

Mantled Howler Monkey


1. Toad (exact species unknown)
2. American Crocodile
3. Spiny-tailed Iguana
4. Green Iguana
5. Rose-bellied Lizard

Green Iguana


1. Orcus Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus orcus)
2. Plain Longtail (Urbanus simplicius)
3. Possible Long-tailed Skipper
4. Thoas Swallowtail (Papilio thoas)
5. White Angled Sulphur (Anteos clorinde)
6. Possible Cloudless Sulfur
7. Deep-blue Eyed-Metalmark (Mesosemia asa asa)
8. Hecale Longwing (Heliconius hecale)
9. Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia)
10. Banded Orange Heliconian (Dryadula phaetusa)
11. Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
12. Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia)
13. Tropical Buckeye (Junonia genoveva)
14. White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)
15. Banded Peacock (Anartia fatima)
16. Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)
17. Possible Gray Cracker (Hamadryas februa)
18. Possible Variable Cracker (Hamadryas feronia)
19. Ruddy Daggerwing (Marpesia petreus)
20. Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron
21. Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)
22. Elf (Microtia elva)
23. Black Witch Moth (Ascalapha odorata)

Deep-blue Eyed-Metalmark


1. Probable Reddish Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax famula)
2. Black-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax funerea)
3. Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa)
4. Flame-tailed Pondhawk (Erythemis peruviana)
5. Carmine Skimmer (Orthemis discolor)


1. Hermit crabs
2. Sea Urchin

Hermit Crab

Doran and I haven’t taken very many trips together that don’t involve visiting family, so our trip to Costa Rica was an absolute treat. I would definitely love to return and spend some more time in the rainforest, even though the Occidental Grand Papagayo resort is well worth visiting again, too. Hopefully we will be able to go back some day, and explore some more of this marvelous country!


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