Follow that bird: a Costa Rica photo tour

April 7, 2021

Birds of a feather flock together — and so do the people who want to see them in the wild. Toucans! Macaws! Quetzals! (If you’re wondering what a Quetzal is, look just below.) Birds that fill your imagination with a rainbow of colour make their home in the rainforests and jungles of Costa Rica. Join us on a photographic journey of the country’s biggest birds (in popularity more than size) and tips to spot them on tour. Grab your binoculars and let's go!

Search for the resplendent quetzal

Thanks to its forest conservation efforts, Costa Rica enjoys a significant population of this elusive and endangered bird. Known for its pretty plumage and really long tail, these emerald beauties are easier to spot in Monteverde Cloud Forest. From mid-February to July, they nest in avocado trees and take turns minding their egg babies.

You can look for them on: Costa Rica Quest — Plus

male tail feathers were treasured by ancient Mayans and Aztecs
male tail feathers were treasured by ancient Mayans and Aztecs
a male Resplendent Quetzal sitting pretty as a picture
a male Resplendent Quetzal sitting pretty as a picture

You too can find toucans

Some people get a little froot loopy at the thought of seeing a toucan in real life. Good news! It's pretty easy throughout Costa Rica and you'll probably hear their distinctive calls first. Six kinds of toucans live here including the Keel-Billed toucan made famous by sugary breakfast cereal. Much like our travellers, they like to hang out in small groups and can be found in places like Arenal, Monteverde and Tortuguero National Park.

Combine turtles and toucans on our 4-day indie adventure: Tortuguero National Park Tour

no ordinary Sam — behold the beautiful keel-billed toucan
no ordinary Sam — behold the beautiful keel-billed toucan
look for collared aracari toucans in fruit trees
look for collared aracari toucans in fruit trees

Hang out with big birds and small

In much the same way as toucans, it can be really jarring (in a good way!) to see a macaw in full flight. Most of us have only seen them in pet shops and not their natural habitat. Once nearly extinct due to the pet market, both the Scarlet and Great Green Macaw are making a comeback thanks to protection efforts. They tend to like coastal forests and you can find Scarlet Macaws in easy to reach places like Carara National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park.

As for hummingbirds, given the sheer amount of nectar-laden flowers in Costa Rica, you can find these tiny zoomers everywhere you look.

Marvel at macaws while on the Central Pacific coast: Costa Rica Adventure — Plus

easy to spot by noisy squawks and primary-coloured plumage
easy to spot by noisy squawks and primary-coloured plumage
really small bird, larger than life colours
really small bird, larger than life colours

Know before you go

You don't have to be a big bird nerd to get excited about the avian wonders that await in Costa Rica. There are 900+ known species including motmots, parakeets and tanagers. If you've got binoculars, bring them with you but some parks and lodges have loaners.

good local guides make sure you know where to look and when
good local guides make sure you know where to look and when
bring extra memory cards and batteries for your camera
bring extra memory cards and batteries for your camera
some places have loaner binoculars but better to bring your own
some places have loaner binoculars but better to bring your own

Hanging bridges in spots like Monteverde and Arenal can lift you up into jungle canopy where birds, monkeys and sloths spend most of their time. As always, be quiet and respectful of all our rainforest friends and use your binoculars, telescope or zoom lens to get a closer look. Good luck, happy birding and take lots of pictures!


Getting There

Ready to feel free as a bird? We've got all kinds of natural adventures in Costa Rica.

No Previous Articles

Next Article
Virtually zoom through Thailand
Virtually zoom through Thailand

Just because we aren’t travelling as much as we’d like to right now, doesn’t mean we can’t experience our b...

Sign Up for our Newsletter

Sign Up Here