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How many birds?

Buckinghamshire...
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How many birds?

This is a query for the birders out there. We are a family party of 6 travelling out from the UK for 2 weeks on 15th Aug. Myself, my two sons and older son's fiance are keen birders. My wife and daughter enjoy wildlife but in a more relaxed way (ie from the side of a pool or on a beach).

We are staying 3 nights at Xandari with one day at La Paz and Poas Volcano, 3 nights at Savegre Mountain Hotel and then a week in Manuel Antonio. Hopefully we will achieve a balance between everyone's wants.

Trips arranged from MA are of course the park, then Carara and the Damas Mangrove boat trip. we will also include some independent birding.

Now I'm much too mature to get involved in competitive birding ;) but as this will probably be a once in a lifetime visit we are keen to make the most of our time.

So, how many species are realistically achievable given time of year and itinerary? Any additional tips would be appreciated.

This is a family holiday, hence we have limited the travelling within the country.

I will of course let you know later how we actually got on.

Pensacola, Florida
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1. Re: How many birds?

camacdonald.com/birding/cencostaarica.htm

almost 1000 but you will see a small portion of that

Quetzals are best at www.monteverdeinfo.com and www.eltoucanet.com

Costa Rica
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2. Re: How many birds?

There are just over 800 species of birds in Costa Rica. How many you can reasonably expect to see depends on a lot of things. I would not hazard a guess.

Typically, avid birders will arrange a good guide with excellent birding knowledge and then plan to go out just before or right at dawn and then again at sunset. (Think 5 am and 5 pm). And they will be aware of any birds everywhere they go, of course.

It also depends on where you are staying. Many ecolodges and other hotels with large grounds have lots of birds, especially if they put out food for them which, in Costa Rica, is typically fruit.

There won't be many migrants this time of year but there's enough to see without them! It sounds like you have a good variety of habitats.

As for Quetzals being "the best," the Resplendent Quetzal is a very beautiful, showy bird but there are many others, large and small, from the Ornate Hawk Eagle to the toucans and aracaris and on to motmots and others.

I would spend the money to buy a good bird book for Costa Rica rather than just a pamphlet with a few in it. There is one old "standard" - "A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica" by Stiles and Skutch (which is what I use) but there are a couple of new ones that are good also. I think you can get these through Amazon. There are bird lists available for CR on the internet. Of course, for the "super birders" you can get recordings of Costa Rican bird songs.

The Ornithological Association of Costa Rica is the website listed by qwovadis.

I think Costa Rica is a birders paradise and I am sure you will all enjoy your vacation here.

Canandaigua, New...
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3. Re: How many birds?

I came across this site which gives you a list of birds probable to see in different regions and a list of all the birds to print the page and take with you.

costaricabirdingtours.com/costaricabirdlist.…

costaricabirdingtours.com/birdinghotels.html

costaricabirdingtours.com/costaricabirds.html

Edited: 01 August 2010, 15:14
Buckinghamshire...
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4. Re: How many birds?

Thanks for the replies. We have the Stiles & Skutch, the Garrigues and Dean and Barrett Lawson's 'A Bird Finding Guide to Costa Rica'.

None of the birders intends staying in bed after 5am. With a reasonable amount of effort and good fortune we are hoping for a target of around 200 species. I do agree with your point about the Quetzal, we are looking forward to seeing an Ochraceous Wren as much as a Quetzal - but that's birders for you!

Just can't wait now for this trip of a lifetime.

Costa Rica
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5. Re: How many birds?

Oh, my kind of birder!

I once worked as a guide in Florida and people would often come to me and ask, "Have you seen any GOOD birds lately" and I would usually answer something like "Oh, yes, I saw a Mockingbird yesterday - what a beautiful song!" and they would leave disgusted. They had been hoping for something like a Scarlet Ibis, I guess.

I think 200 is a reasonable number from what you are telling me. That would be something like 15 a day which is very possible. Just don't mistake the iguanas in the trees for some new species! haha

One of my favorites is the tiny Common Tody Flycatcher who would build a large pendulous nest on my front porch every year thus causing me to pause and ask myself "Do you really need to go out there now?" trying not to disturb them. But they are very pugnacious and took it all in stride and usually managed to raised two broods a year.

Sounds like you will have a great time!

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: How many birds?

A couple of years ago we had a birding guide in Costa Rica and found a little over 100 species in 1 week. Never went birding before breakfast and never spend much time searching, so I'll bet you hit 200 easy.

Brooklyn, New York
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for Sarapiqui
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7. Re: How many birds?

I would guess 75 species or so. Manuel Antonio is actually a lousy place for birding. Much better birding up the coast in Carara Nat'l park and especially on a Tarcoles river tour--we did a late afternoon tour with Crocodile Jungle Safari and saw 40 species.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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8. Re: How many birds?

You have some great guide books about birds...now you just have to come and identify some of them...Sarapiqui is great...to start!

roadadvisor

Munich, Germany
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9. Re: How many birds?

You will visit some good places for birding. Savegre: excellent for the Quetzal and other highland species like emerald toucanet, trogons, many species of hummingbirds,... In my opinion much better than Monteverde. You will get a good amount of species at La Paz as well. Poas is not the best place for birding, but don't miss to hike up to the Botos Lagoon. have seen a couple of interesting species up there and the lagoon is beautiful.

If you have time while at Xandari, you could drive to the Barva Volcano. Off the beaten path, nice hiking trails and especially a bit outside the park on the pastures we have seen Chlorophonias, Toucanets, Long tailed as well as Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher,...

Another great place to visit is Quebrada Gonzales (about 1 hours from San José). It's the southern entrance to Braulio Carrillo National Park. Have seen flocks with 30 different species there (e.g. Emerald, Speckled, Bay-headed, Black-and yellow and White shoulderd Tanager, just to mention the Tanagers we saw there.....).

One of the best places in Costa Rica for birding is the La Selva Biological Station (almost 500 species of birds there). Would have been great for you to add this one to your itinerary. One day of full birding could get you about 70 species there. And it is a place that would have also been interesting for the not so passionate birders. Lots of other wildlife there as well. About 1.5 hours from San José on the Caribbean slope.

Manuel Antonio as stated before is not the best place for birding. Carara and Tarcoles much better. Do a boat tour at Rio Tarcoles...

I think it is realistic to expect 200 to 250 species given the fact that you will visit while the migratories are not there.

Buckinghamshire...
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10. Re: How many birds?

Thanks Costa Rica Fan - I would have loved to include La Selva but having fitted in Savegre especially for us birders, Manuel Antonio was part of the compromise. We have a day at Carara booked, but it sounds as if a boat trip on the Tarcoles River would be worth making a second trip for.

I understand that Manuel Antonio doesn't have the range of species that some other parks have, but are there good numbers of birds there, even if of less variety?

We also intended birding the local countryside a little as well, would that get us a few extra birds?

Two of us are also reptile, amphibian and insect fans, has anyone experienced the Rainmaker night safari with these as the focus?