Gone Birding In Costa Rica

Clay-colored thrush, the National Bird of Costa Rica, in Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica (photo by Greg Gilbert via Wikimedia Commons)
Clay-colored thrush, the National Bird of Costa Rica (photo by Greg Gilbert via Wikimedia Commons)

This morning I’m on my way to a 10-day Road Scholar birding trip in Costa Rica.  I’m sure to see many Life Birds as well as the National Bird, the clay-colored thrush.

I’ve never been to Costa Rica but I’ve heard great things about it.  Located in Central America directly south of Ohio, Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia with a population of 4.8 million people. It’s an eco-tourism destination famous for friendly people, good food, and its many national parks and nature preserves.

Map of Central America (image from Wikimedia Commons)
Map of Central America with arrow highlighting Costa Rica (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Costa Rica has a lot of birds!  My Costa Rican field guide lists 903 species including 54 hummingbirds and 79 flycatchers. Some are endemic to the tropics while others, like the ruby-throated hummingbird, only spend the winter there.

The large number of birds is directly related to the country’s diverse habitats.  From the mountains to the sea, an elevation change of over 12,000 feet provides a wide range of climate zones.  There are temperate dry uplands and tropical rainforests where the national flower, the Guaria Morada orchid (Guarianthe skinneri), grows.

Guaria morada, orchid, the National Flower of Costa Rica (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Guaria morada, orchid, the National Flower of Costa Rica (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

If you’ve been to Costa Rica you’ll be curious about my route so I’ve drawn it in green on the map below.  We’ll be traveling counterclockwise from San Jose to sea level at the Pacific, then over the mountains to the 7,000-ft home of the quetzal.

Road Scholar tour route in Costa Rica (image from Wikimedia Commons, altered to show route in green)
Road Scholar tour route in Costa Rica, Jan-Feb 2017 (image from Wikimedia Commons, altered to show route in green)

I know that Internet access will be unpredictable so I’ve written all 10 days of blog posts in advance.  My husband Rick (who’s too near-sighted to go birding) is holding down the fort at home while my friend Donna Memon posts the blogs to Facebook and Twitter, moderates your comments, and responds to questions.

For now, I’m (mostly) off the grid.   I’ll “see” you when I return to my computer on Tuesday morning, February 7.

 

(photo and maps from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see the originals.)

Day 1: Fly to San José, transfer to Alajuela

8 thoughts on “Gone Birding In Costa Rica

  1. I traveled through Costa Rica with my best friend in 1998. We were two young city girls in a Suzuki jeep on the adventure of a lifetime. We knew nothing of hiking or birding. We were lucky that Tobi Wallace spotted us at the entrance of the Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve. Tobi found the elusive Quetzal within 5 minutes and 3 hours later he had pointed out every bird, insect, arthropod, snake, mammal, and plant living in that amazing forest. We were fortunate that Tobi was a patient and instructive guide, although I am sure there were times he questioned his decision to guide us. If you see him, please thank him for teaching me how to use binoculars and scopes, and leading me to a lifelong interest in bird watching. We followed the same path on our journey that you are undertaking. It was the most fascinating and beautiful vacation of my life. Enjoy your trip! Safe travels!

  2. Have a wonderful time Kate! Thanks for “front loading” the blog so we’re all not bored while you are gone. We’ll look forward to hearing about your trip and all the wonderful things (birds!) you saw while you were there.

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