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Field Guides Tour Report
Costa Rica Birding the Edges: Private Tour for Denis Kania & Friends 2014
Feb 8, 2014 to Feb 24, 2014
Jay VanderGaast

This superb male Black-crested Coquette was a siesta-time find at the verbena hedges outside our lodge at Arenal. (Photo by Joe Suchecki)

When I was first asked to put this tour together, I was pretty excited, as I had some great memories from my last Kania trip in eastern Venezuela a few years back. But I was a little concerned that, given the late date, and it being Costa Rica's high season, we might not be able to pull it all together in a way that was suitable. Well, I was very pleased that, with the help of our excellent ground agents in Costa Rica, we were able to get this thing off the ground and running. It turned out to be a very good trip, too, with lots of ground covered, and a whole lot of super birds along the way!

We started off in the highlands of the Savegre Valley where the conditions were warm and dry, and the birding was hot! Though our quetzal experience wasn't the best one I've ever enjoyed, a number of other specialties more than made up for that. Among the stellar performers here were: a trio of Spotted Wood-Quail feeding quietly in the oak forest almost too close for binoculars; the boldest Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge I have ever seen, singing out in the open after several furtive glances at the group; a sneaky Bare-shanked Screech-Owl that almost, but not quite, gave us the slip; a cooperative pair of Buffy Tuftedcheeks along the Providencia Road; the sleek and elegant Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers appeasing Denis's craving for this species; and a fantastically curious Wrenthrush that paraded out in the open for all to see to their satisfaction!

From the highlands we moved south to San Isidro, and Los Cusingos reserve, where we enjoyed day roosting Mottled Owl and Common Potoo, a small army ant swarm with Bicolored Antbirds, Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, and Gray-headed Tanagers, and a moonwalking Red-capped Manakin among many other species. Further south still, the area around Wilson Botanical Gardens gave us a bunch of southern specialties, from a stunning male White-crested Coquette right outside our cabins, to Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Masked Yellowthroat, and an excited pair of Costa Rican Brush-Finches.

The south Pacific lowlands were up next, where another bunch of specialties awaited us. The key bird here was the endemic Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, which we saw beautifully along the Golfito road. Other highlights in this region included a perched Tiny Hawk (great spotting Jon!), a Gray-lined Hawk with the tail end of an iguana in its talons, several Veraguan Mangos and a Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, both recent arrivals in the country from Panama, our only pair of Fiery-billed Aracaris for the trip (where were they all?), lovely Golden-naped Woodpeckers, the striking Black-striped Woodcreeper, and great looks at both Turquoise and Yellow-billed cotingas.

Up the coast, we made a brief stop in the Carara region and a morning foray into the dry Guanacaste lowlands, where we tallied northwestern specialties like Double-striped Thick-knee, Plain-capped Starthroat, Cinnamon Hummingbird, the exquisite Turquoise-browed Motmot, Orange-fronted Parakeet, several flycatchers, White-throated Magpie-Jay, and White-lored Gnatcatcher, though the Lesser Ground-Cuckoos stayed frustratingly out of sight. Then it was onward to the northern half of the country, with the now quiet Arenal Volcano as our first stop.

Arenal was alive with birds, and though there aren't too many regional specialties, there are a lot of great birds to be found. Antbirds were a highlight, particularly at our big ant swarm at the Sky Walk, where we had multiple Spotted, Bicolored, Zeledon's, and the superb Ocellated antbirds all at point-blank range for some awesome views. Easily one of the best ant swarms I've seen in the country! We also had wonderful views of Dull-mantled and Bare-crowned antbirds, and an exceptionally easy Thicket Antpitta, for one of the best antbird days imaginable. Other birds that made our time here memorable included Great Curassow, Black-crested Coquette, a pair of White-fronted Nunbirds, great views of a very local Keel-billed Motmot, a distant, but glowing, Lovely Cotinga, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Song Wren, and many more.

We wrapped things up with quick visits to three locales. Our boat ride at Cano Negro was superb, despite the low water levels, and views of a close male Sungrebe, an even closer American Pygmy Kingfisher, several of the extremely local Nicaraguan Grackles, and a host of other wetland birds made it a memorable one. Our night drive there was productive too, with a couple of striking Striped Owls, a pair of Pacific Screech-Owls, and a Black-and-white Owl picking off a bat under a streetlight making for an exciting night indeed! Bosque de Paz was also nice, with a couple of Scaled Antpittas hopping down the trail ahead of us, a Great Black-Hawk flying out of its nest tree, and, at last, some inexplicably scarce but gorgeous Spangle-cheeked Tanagers. And finally, we finished with a buzz of hummers at La Paz, including the tiny endemic Coppery-headed Emerald and hefty Violet Sabrewings.

All in all, this trip was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the camaraderie, good humor, and enthusiasm you all showed throughout the trip. I'd be quite happy if all my groups came with the group dynamics already well established! I hope spring has finally found you all, as it seems to have finally done here. And I hope another Kania trip comes my way someday soon. I'd look forward to seeing any or all of you on another trip in the near future.



One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamidae (Tinamous)

With the recent split of Gray Hawk, we had an extra species to look for, as Costa Rica lies right in the contact zone between the two species. We saw both: a Gray-lined Hawk in the Coto 47 Marsh area, and this Gray Hawk along the roadside near Cano Negro. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major) – A few folks at the front of the line saw our lone one before it scuttled off down the hill along the trail at Los Cusingos.
LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) – Heard on 6 consecutive days in the south, but we never had one close enough to do anything with. [*]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – First seen along the coast on our way north from Golfito, but biggest numbers were at the lagoons at Cano Negro.
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) – The 20 birds coming into a night roost at the Coto 47 marsh was by far the biggest group I've ever seen in the country.
AMERICAN WIGEON (Anas americana) – Probably about 20 birds at one of the lagoons at Cano Negro, which is a large number for anywhere in Costa Rica. [b]
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Generally the most widespread and numerous migrant duck in CR. We had a couple north of Dominical, then lots at Cano Negro. [b]
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps) – Small numbers in the San Vito area, then again around Arenal.
CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens) – Seen by several around Wilson BG and along the Golfito side road, but best seen at Arenal, where we had excellent views of some confiding birds in various fruiting trees on the hotel grounds.
BLACK GUAN (Chamaepetes unicolor) – Decent views of three birds as we watched for quetzals in the Savegre; a good thing, as they were surprisingly absent from the feeders at Bosque.
GREAT CURASSOW (Crax rubra) – A fabulous male was seen at close range at Arenal, feeding below a fruiting fig tree on the hotel grounds.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
BUFFY-CROWNED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx leucophrys) – I really hadn't expected to see this one when I played the recording, but thought we might at least hear the birds calling back, so I was surprised when we got a quick response followed by some quick glimpses of a couple of birds at the edge of the forest in the Savegre valley. Sticking with these birds, we eventually all got good looks, culminating with one of the birds strolling out of the brush, then stopping and calling in full view of most of us. I'd say this was my best view ever of this elusive bird!
SPOTTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus guttatus) – Some rustling sounds in the dry leaves just off the trail in Savegre's oak forest drew my attention to a trio of these quail, which gave us all fantastic views as they fed on the forest floor just a few yards away.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – Three birds on a roadside pond on the way north from Golfito.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – Plenty along the coast and at the Cano Negro wetlands.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – A few birds along the Pacific coast.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – One in the Golfito region, then fair numbers at Cano Negro.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – A very distant bird along the shores of Lake Arenal, scoped from the cabano viewpoint just below the lodge. Much better and closer views at Cano Negro, where they were numerous along the river.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – A few birds along the Pacific coast at Golfito.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
PINNATED BITTERN (Botaurus pinnatus) – Arriving at the Medio Queso marsh in the scorching noontime heat, my hopes of seeing this bird were pretty low, so it was a nice surprise to spot one so easily, and to get such incredible views as it stood in its cryptic posture, neck outstretched, bill pointed skyward, a pose that might have worked much better if it hadn't been standing right out in the open!
FASCIATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma fasciatum) – A nice adult showed up at the stream crossing below the lodge at Arenal on our final pass as we headed out for Cano Negro.
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – Several birds at marshy areas in the southwest, and a single bird along the Rio Frio during our boat trip.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – A couple at a roadside pond near Jaco, and a few at Cano Negro.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Plenty throughout.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Seen regularly from the Golfito region northward.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Seen pretty regularly throughout.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – Just a few birds at the roadside ponds near Jaco and at Cano Negro.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Common throughout.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – Regularly wherever the habitat was suitable.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A single bird in flight shortly after we got started on our Cano Negro boat trip.
BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius) – A brief view of one during our night drive at Tarcoles, then some good views of a bunch of roosting birds along the Rio Frio.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Common along the Pacific coast and at Cano Negro, including some juveniles that are surprisingly Limpkin-like.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Just a couple of birds on the margins of Laguna Monicos at Cano Negro.
GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis) – We also had a couple of these stocky ibis at Cano Negro, and it was good to see them right alongside the Glossy Ibis so we could see the differences.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – These lovely birds were seen mainly at Cano Negro, though there were also a few along the Pacific coast.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

While it may no longer be actively erupting, Arenal Volcano is still a beautiful sight, and the birding on its lower slopes is pretty awesome, too! (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Lots every day.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Loads daily.
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – Great looks at a close flying bird at Medio Queso marsh, one of the best (and only) places to see this species in CR.
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – A juvenile soaring with a bunch of other vultures south of Golfito vanished in the time it took us to get off the bus for a better view.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Single birds on 4 days.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii) – Joe spotted our only one as we headed for some mangroves near the Rincon Bridge, and we had nice views of this pretty little raptor, which is a fairly recent arrival in the country, having spread north from Panama in the past dozen years or so.
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – One near San Jose on our first morning, and another in the San Isidro region.
GRAY-HEADED KITE (Leptodon cayanensis) – Good views at a couple of these striking raptors circling over the river during our Cano Negro boat trip.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – Seen regularly at all sites except in the lowlands.
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – Super views of a perched adult near the Rincon Bridge.
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – Three birds seen during our drive from Arenal to Cano Negro were early arrivals from their South American wintering grounds. [a]
TINY HAWK (Accipiter superciliosus) – Shortly after our gorgeous male Turquoise Cotinga took off, Jon spotted one of these scarce, tiny Accipiters perched in a dead tree along the Golfito side road. It didn't stick around long, but long enough for us all to get a decent look at it.
CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens) – Denis picked one out as it flew alongside the bus in the open agricultural fields south of Golfito.
COMMON BLACK-HAWK (MANGROVE) (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis) – Several good looks near the Rincon Bridge. These Pacific coast birds are now treated as a subspecies of Common Black-Hawk, which is certainly the correct treatment.
GREAT BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – Brief looks at one as it took off from its nesting tree along the trails at Bosque. [N]
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – Easily the most commonly seen hawk on the trip.
WHITE HAWK (Pseudastur albicollis) – Several great encounters with these gorgeous raptors in the Golfito region and around Arenal.
SEMIPLUMBEOUS HAWK (Leucopternis semiplumbeus) – A calling bird along the Waterfall Trail attracted our attention and we managed reasonable views before it moved off out of sight.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – We didn't see many of these common wintering hawks this trip, but there were a few, including one that hung around the street light below our Arenal hotel, perhaps waiting to pick off one of the many birds that gather there each morning to feed on the many moths that the light attracts. [b]
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – A few in the north, with the best being one perched on a fencepost along the road from Arenal to Cano Negro.
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – Recently split (again) from Gray Hawk, this species is quite scarce and local in the country. We had one fly in to a roadside tree at Coto 47, the tail end of a large iguana in its talons. We had super studies of this bird, seeing well the barring on the dorsal side (lacking in the Gray Hawk, a key feature to separate the two species). Joy chose this as her favorite bird of the trip, and it was one of mine, too, being my first ever in CR.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – A high percentage of soaring hawks in the country turn out to be this common species, and we saw a fair number, mainly light morph birds.
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni) – Most Swainson's Hawks move well south of CR to winter in Argentina and adjacent areas, but a few evidently remain in the southwest, where we saw two different birds in the open agricultural areas south of Golfito. [b]
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – Excellent views of one south of Golfito. The resemblance to a Turkey Vulture was striking, but the bird was close enough for us to see the yellow feet and faint banding in the tail, not to mention the upturned wingtips which you just don't see on a vulture.
RED-TAILED HAWK (COSTA RICAN) (Buteo jamaicensis costaricensis) – One bird of this resident highland race, which is endemic to the mountains of CR and Panama, was seen nicely in the Savegre valley.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (Laterallus albigularis) – These crakes are incredibly common in the country, though they can be tough to see. We heard lots, but saw just one at the San Joaquin Marsh, though our views were fantastic.
GRAY-BREASTED CRAKE (Laterallus exilis) – Man they were close, but we just couldn't lure these birds into view at Coto 47. [*]
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Very common, and conspicuous for a rail. We saw at least 15 birds on the trip, primarily in the southwest and at Cano Negro.
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – Wow, we estimated a minimum of 100 birds perched up atop the aquatic vegetation in the late afternoon at Coto 47, but I suspect this is a gross underestimate. I've never seen so many of these birds anywhere!
COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata) – A half dozen birds at San Joaquin marsh were the only ones.
Heliornithidae (Finfoots)
SUNGREBE (Heliornis fulica) – A fabulous close bird along the Rio Frio. In my experience, these birds are usually rather shy, but this bird is obviously used to boat traffic, as it didn't seem to be bothered by us watching it feeding along the edge of the river.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – Good views of several at Cano Negro.
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus) – A fairly distant bird was seen from the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles, but we had much better views of one near the roadside as we birded the dry Guanacaste region along the Guacimo road.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Quite a few along the coast and at Cano Negro.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – One of several species to have colonized CR from Panama in the past decade or so. We saw them regularly in the San Vito and Golfito region, then had a large group of 10 birds along the Rio Frio on our boat trip.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – A flock of about 30 birds at the Laguna Monicos in Cano Negro. [b]
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – One along the stream at Copabuena, and many more at Cano Negro. [b]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – Common at wetland areas throughout.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Just a few birds along streams and rivers in the north. [b]
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – Singles at Copabuena and Coto 47, and a couple at Cano Negro. [b]
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – Singles at Copabuena and the Rincon Bridge, and a bunch more at Cano Negro. [b]
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – One bird along the river at the Rincon Bridge. [b]
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – Three birds at the San Joaquin marsh, 2 at a roadside pond near Jaco, and several at Cano Negro. [b]

One of 40 species of hummingbirds on the trip, the Green Violetear is among the most vocal: they could be heard chirping throughout the day in the Savegre Valley. (Photo by Joe Suchecki)

WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – A lone bird along the river at the Rincon Bridge. [b]
STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus) – Joe picked out three birds at the big lagoon in Cano Negro. [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – About 9 birds at the Rincon Bridge, then loads of them around the lagoon at Cano Negro. [b]
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – Denis picked out about a half dozen of these among the many Least Sandpipers at Cano Negro. [b]
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – One at the small marsh near the San Vito airport was certainly the same bird I saw here on my January trip. [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – A number offshore at Golfito.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – A few among the gulls at the Golfito waterfront.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Common along the river at Cano Negro.
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – We had a few of these relatively scarce but beautiful pigeons in the San Isidro area, and a couple at the San Joaquin marsh.
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – Generally replaces the somewhat similar Pale-vented Pigeon away from the lowland areas. We saw them around San Jose and Arenal.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – A few decent sized flocks in the Savegre valley.
RUDDY PIGEON (Patagioenas subvinacea) – Mostly replaces the almost identical Short-billed Pigeon at higher elevations but they do overlap at a few sites, such as the Wilson BG. A bird we saw from the viewing deck at Wilson looked like this species to me, and it was the only one we heard calling right near the lodge, but the evidence was pretty circumstantial.
SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) – Common in the southwest lowlands and fairly common around Arenal, with several good views at both sites.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – Formerly restricted to the dry lowlands of the northwest, but this bird has expanded greatly in the country in recent years, and now occurs commonly around San Jose as well as on the Caribbean slope at places like Arenal.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – One in the Golfito area was a bit surprising, as they mainly occur further north, where we saw good numbers in the Guanacaste lowlands.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – Numerous in the dry Guanacaste region.
PLAIN-BREASTED GROUND-DOVE (Columbina minuta) – A small dove that flew into a scrubby rice field south of Golfito looked to be this scarce species, so Denis and I walked in to try to flush it for a better look, resulting in acceptable views. The perched bird we had along the roadside near Cano Negro was a lot more satisfying though.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Overall the most numerous and widespread of the ground-doves.
BLUE GROUND-DOVE (Claravis pretiosa) – We saw this beautiful bird daily in the Golfito region, with some excellent scope studies of a male along the Golfito road.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Widespread and very common, missed only in the Savegre region. Especially fun was seeing the one nesting (with a large chick in the nest) on top of the speaker inside the restaurant near Los Cusingos. That poor chick is gonna have hearing problems!
GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassini) – Much more of a forest bird than the White-tipped Dove, and nowhere near as common. We saw just one in the grounds of Esquinas Lodge.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – From Wilson BG onwards we saw these big arboreal cuckoos pretty much every day.
MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor) – Despite the name, these birds are far more often seen away from mangroves in CR. We had nice views of two birds at the Coto 47 marsh.
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) – One flew across in front of us, briefly raising hopes that it was the Lesser Ground-Cuckoo we were searching for along the Guacimo Road.
LESSER GROUND-CUCKOO (Morococcyx erythropygus) – We heard at least 6 along the Guacimo road, but none of them showed any interest in showing themselves. [*]
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Common in scrubby areas of the south.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Replaces the Smooth-billed Ani in the north, and likewise common. Especially fun was seeing the group of them following on the heels of a fellow cutting grass with a whipper-snipper, picking off the insects exposed as the tall grass fell.
Strigidae (Owls)
PACIFIC SCREECH-OWL (Megascops cooperi) – A pair of these owls capped off a fantastic night of owling at Cano Negro, one of the few Caribbean slope sites for this species.
TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – Excellent looks at a responsive bird just after dark on the grounds of the Talari Lodge.
BARE-SHANKED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops clarkii) – It took some work and persistence, but we ultimately had a great look at one of these highland owls in the Savegre Valley.

One of the many highlights of our boat ride at Cano Negro was this very confiding male American Pygmy Kingfisher. (Photo by Joe Suchecki.)

SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) – Nice scope views of a pair of day roosting birds at Esquinas Lodge, followed by good looks at a calling and courting pair after dark at Villa Lapas.
COSTA RICAN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium costaricanum) – This one was hard to spot as it called from a densely foliaged tree along the road in the Savegre valley, but once we located it, we got some super views.
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – It's always nice to kick off a tour with an owl. This was officially the first bird of the trip in the predawn hours at the Hotel Bougainvillea. We saw a few more of these common owls around Tarcoles and along the Guacimo Road.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – Some whitewash next to the trail at Los Cusingos got us looking for a roosting bird, but after a quick look, most of us decided there was nothing to be seen and continued down the trail But Denis searched a bit more thoroughly and spotted one of these owls sitting about 20 feet up, quite open but surprisingly hard to see! Those of us that went owling at night at Wilson also saw a couple more, but it was surprising that these birds responded most strongly to the calls of Black-and-white Owls, seemingly ignoring recordings of Mottled Owl!
BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – One of the coolest owl encounters I've ever had was with this bird at Cano Negro. We'd stopped to watch some large bats feeding around a streetlight and were reboarding the bus when I glimpsed an owl fly over, so I called everyone off the bus, turned on my spotlight, and there was a perched Black-and-white Owl with a fluttering bat grasped in its talons! The owl bit down on the bat's head several times to kill it, before it flew off to devour its meal. I think everyone was impressed by this show; Joe, Dave, and Donnalyn all picked it as their favorite of the trip, and it easily finished first in the top bird voting.
STRIPED OWL (Pseudoscops clamator) – A last ditch attempt to relocate one we'd seen earlier in the night near Esquinas Lodge made for a late bedtime, but paid off with excellent views of this strikingly beautiful owl. Two more on our owling night at Cano Negro were bonuses.
UNSPOTTED SAW-WHET OWL (Aegolius ridgwayi) – Though we didn't see this species, just hearing it was exciting enough as it was only my second ever encounter with this species. One of these days I will finally see this enigmatic bird. [*]
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis) – A few birds over the mangroves at Tarcoles in the early evening, and one at dusk in Cano Negro.
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Common indeed, with lots seen throughout. We had a humbling experience with one perched in an atypical location in an area where we'd been told that a Chuck-will's-widow or Rufous Nightjar had been seen recently. We studied it for a long time without pinning it down, until we played a recording of this species, and yup, that's what it was! A learning experience for all!
DUSKY NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus saturatus) – These birds were pretty quiet when we tried for them the first night, but we eventually got great looks at a bird that was calling intermittently. This bird looked pretty odd as it had a loose feather sticking up on its head! The next night when we weren't looking for them, they were calling like crazy!
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus) – Pretty good views of a sleeping bird on a day roost at Los Cusingos, then three different ones on our night drive around the Golfito region.
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila) – We saw only a couple of birds flying over at Wilson, and I think most folks were busy looking at something else and missed them.
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – By far the most numerous swift seen on the tour, with some seen at most sites visited.
VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – Most of the small swifts we saw were left unidentified due to poor views, but we did have at least a few of these birds at Wilson BG.
COSTA RICAN SWIFT (Chaetura fumosa) – Diann was the first to spot these small swifts with the white rump bands in the hills near Golfito.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – A few birds in the Golfito region, and several more around Arenal, all of which were males.
BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri) – We only saw one, but had excellent views of it when we found it on a song perch along the Golfito side road.
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – A few at Wilson, then good numbers around Arenal, as well as the feeders at Bosque and La Paz.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris) – Seen best around Esquinas Lodge, where they fed at various flowers near the restaurant.
STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis) – A common small hummer, seen regularly at several sites.
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – A calling bird at the Hanging Bridges gave us the slip, but the next morning we had a subadult bird in the flowering verbena around the lodge.
GREEN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus) – Numerous and noisy in the Savegre valley.
PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti) – Singles were seen on several different days at Los Cusingos, Wilson BG, Golfito, but all the views were somewhat fleeting and none of the birds hung around for all to see.

We were a bit confused by the crest color of this male White-crested Coquette, until we realized that what we thought was the crest was actually the projections from the side of its dark gorget! (Photo by Joe Suchecki)

GREEN-BREASTED MANGO (Anthracothorax prevostii) – A couple of birds at a flowering tree during the boat ride on the Rio Frio.
VERAGUAN MANGO (Anthracothorax veraguensis) – A poor view of a perched male at Coto 47 was improved on when Jon spotted a female feeding at a flowering Erythrina tree near Esquinas Lodge. A recent arrival in Costa Rica from neighboring Panama, and now fairly common.
GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii) – A lone male at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens feeders.
BLACK-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis helenae) – Most everyone went out birding during an afternoon siesta break at Arenal and got a good look at a male at the verbena hedges around the grounds.
WHITE-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis adorabilis) – After missing this one in January, I was a little worried about it on this tour, but I guess I really didn't have to be. We had a female at Los Cusingos (for which Denis sacrificed his lunch to stay back and watch for it), another female from the tower at Wilson BG, and yet another female along the Golfito Road, but the best was the fabulous male that we saw feeding at the flowering verbena just outside our cabins at Wilson. What a beauty!
GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula) – Numerous at the feeders at Bosque and La Paz.
MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens) – Common in the Cerro de la Muerte highlands. We also had one of these big hummers at the feeder at Bosque.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – Joy spotted our first one perched just outside the restaurant at Talari as we ate breakfast one morning. The only other ones were an adult feeding a large juvenile along the road in to Cano Negro.
PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii) – Excellent looks at three different birds during our morning of birding the dry northwest scrub along the Guacimo road.
FIERY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Panterpe insignis) – Quite common and noisy in the Savegre region.
PURPLE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis calolaemus) – One of the more common species at the La Paz feeders, with a few at Bosque as well.
WHITE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (GRAY-TAILED) (Lampornis castaneoventris cinereicauda) – Small number of this gorgeous hummer were seen in the Savegre valley, though I only recall seeing males around the Savegre Lodge feeders.
MAGENTA-THROATED WOODSTAR (Calliphlox bryantae) – Always a fairly scarce hummingbird. We had only 2 males on a single day, one each at the feeders at Bosque and La Paz.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – A female was seen at the flowering verbena hedge at Los Cusingos, then several more along Guacimo road at various flowering trees. [b]
VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula) – Numerous at high elevation and seen regularly in and around the Savegre valley.
SCINTILLANT HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus scintilla) – A couple in the Savegre Valley, where usually outnumbered by the similar Volcano Hummer. We also had fine views of a buzzy-winged male at the flowers outside the restaurant at La Paz.
GARDEN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon assimilis) – A second stop at the San Vito airport marsh failed to net us any crakes, but it did get us our only one of these, a female that Jenny spotted feeding at some wild mint flowers along the road.
VIOLET-HEADED HUMMINGBIRD (Klais guimeti) – One was a regular visitor to the verbena hedge beside the restaurant at Esquinas, and we also saw this little hummer several times at Arenal.
SCALY-BREASTED HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeochroa cuvierii) – This big dull hummer was very common in the south in January, but we saw very few there this trip. We had them more commonly in the north, and had good views especially at Arenal.
VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus) – One bird was feeding at a flowering passion vine at Wilson BG, but more commonly seen at Bosque and La Paz, where they are numerous and aggressive at the feeders.
BRONZE-TAILED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura urochrysia) – Heard along the road that runs along the Lake Arenal shoreline. [*]
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica) – Singles on 4 days at Wilson BG, Golfito, and Arenal, but only one male was seen at Wilson.
STRIPE-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa eximia) – A male at the Savegre feeders was surprising as they are rare here. Our only other was a female at the Bosque feeders.
BLACK-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa nigriventris) – Surprisingly absent from the La Paz feeders where they are usually reliable, but we did see a female along the trails at Bosque, and Ann had a male at the flowering hedge there when she returned early from our walk.
WHITE-TAILED EMERALD (Elvira chionura) – We had a brief glimpse of one at some trailside flowers at Wilson BG, then waited a long time in vain for it to make a return visit. Most of us moved on, but Denis, Diann, and Jenny decided to stay behind, and they eventually wound up with a few more quick looks at this local specialty.
COPPERY-HEADED EMERALD (Elvira cupreiceps) – These tiny sprites were pretty numerous at the La Paz feeders. [E]
CHARMING HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia decora) – Great first views of one that made several visits to the verbena hedge at Los Cusingos, then several more sightings at both Wilson and Golfito.
STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerrottei) – Beautiful looks at our first when it came in and perched close-by in response to my pygmy-owl imitation near the Hotel Bougainvillea. Several more were seen on our morning along the Guacimo road in the dry northwest.
SNOWY-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia edward) – For most of us there were excellent looks at one feeding at the verbena right below the restaurant at Talari. For those that missed it, we had even better views of a perched bird outside of the Finca Cantaros gift shop near Wilson BG.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – By far the most commonly seen hummer throughout; we only missed this species on one day in the highlands.
CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia rutila) – Several nice looks at this northwest specialty during our morning along the Guacimo Road.
SAPPHIRE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga coeruleogularis) – Reasonable, if not terribly long, views of a perched female along the road at Coto 47. A fairly recently discovered bird in the country.
BLUE-THROATED GOLDENTAIL (Hylocharis eliciae) – Good looks at a couple of these birds with their distinctive thick red bills, at a flowering bush on the grounds of Villa Lapas hotel.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (Pharomachrus mocinno) – With the extremely dry conditions, quetzals seemed to have gotten pretty tough to find in the Savegre valley, which may explain why we were among 100 or so others looking for them near our lodge. We eventually got some great looks at a male, but the crowds kept the experience from being too wonderful.

The gang in the gorgeous montane oak forest above Savegre Lodge. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena) – Good looks at a pair near the compost heap at Esquinas, then a female at Arenal.
BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) – We had a male on our afternoon near Tarcoles then a couple more in the dry northwest where they are the commonest species of trogon.
BAIRD'S TROGON (Trogon bairdii) – A pair of these lovely southwestern specialties was seen very well along the Golfito to Esquinas road.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – After hearing them regularly, we finally saw one, a female, near the casona at Arenal. This is the species formerly known as Violaceous Trogon.
BLACK-THROATED TROGON (Trogon rufus) – We saw just two, a male along the Bird Trail at Esquinas, then a female from one of the suspension bridges at the Arenal Sky Walk.
ORANGE-BELLIED TROGON (Trogon aurantiiventris) – While I'm not convinced that this is actually a good species, the male we saw along the Waterfall Trail at Arenal certainly looked more orange than the usual Collared Trogons. Still, I wouldn't count on the two remaining separate for long.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – A couple in the oak forest at Savegre, and a single male at Wilson BG.
Momotidae (Motmots)
BLUE-CROWNED MOTMOT (LESSON'S) (Momotus coeruliceps lessonii) – Common and seen almost daily in the south, but we left them behind when we moved north of Golfito.
KEEL-BILLED MOTMOT (Electron carinatum) – This scarce and local species gave us no problem this trip, and we had a quick response and an excellent view of one near Lake Arenal.
BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT (Electron platyrhynchum) – A few at the Arenal Sky Walk and along the lake road where they overlap with the similar sounding Keel-billed Motmot.
TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT (Eumomota superciliosa) – A specialty of the dry northwest region. We had nice views of a couple as we headed for the mangroves in Tarcoles, and a couple more along the Guacimo road next day.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – Good numbers of these huge kingfishers were along the Rio Frio during our boat trip. Elsewhere we saw just one near Tarcoles.
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – A few scattered singles before we hit the mother load at Cano Negro, where these birds are abundant.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – A few at several sites before Cano Negro, where we saw quite good numbers.
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – Incredible close views of a stoic male that allowed us to approach within a few feet without flinching on the Cano Negro boat trip.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus) – A single of this predatory puffbird was seen on two days along the Golfito Road, then three of them around the mangroves at Rincon.
PIED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus tectus) – Super response and views from a staked out pair along the road from Arenal and Cano Negro.
WHITE-FRONTED NUNBIRD (Monasa morphoeus) – A pair showed well in the exact same location as we found them on the January trip near Arenal. These were Jenny's overall favorite bird of the trip.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Just two were seen, a male at Esquinas, and a female by the casona viewpoint at Arenal.
Semnornithidae (Toucan-Barbets)
PRONG-BILLED BARBET (Semnornis frantzii) – Great views of a pair along the trails at Bosque were our only record.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – Aracaris were oddly scarce this trip, and we saw just a pair at Arenal.
FIERY-BILLED ARACARI (Pteroglossus frantzii) – Likewise scarce, and surprisingly missed at several regular sites like Talari and Los Cusingos. Our only pair wound up being along the Golfito Road, and they were very uncooperative and not seen well by all.
BLACK-MANDIBLED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – By far the most common toucan seen, and we had them pretty much daily outside of the highland areas.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – Quite common in the Arenal region where we saw them well.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus) – Good views at a couple of these tiny woodpeckers on the Talari Loge grounds.
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – Quite common in the Savegre Valley, but I still don't know why that one bird showed red on its throat. Maybe just an aberration?
GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysauchen) – A specialty of the southwest, where it is uncommon. We had excellent scope studies twice along the Golfito Road.
BLACK-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pucherani) – Replaces the similar Golden-naped Woodpecker on the Caribbean slope, where it was common around Arenal.
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – Very common and seen daily in the south. Replaced in the north by Hoffmann's.

What may have been my best army ant swarm ever at the Arenal Sky Walk reserve featured close views of 4 species of antbirds, including several amazing Ocellated Antbirds, the Holy Grail of all CR antbirds! (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii) – Only in the northern half of the country. We saw these at the Bougainvillea, around the Tarcoles region, and at Cano Negro.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus) – Good views of a pair working the trees below the casona viewpoint at Arenal.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus) – These small dark "dirty hairies" are fairly common in the highlands. We saw three our first day on our way up to Trogon Lodge, and then again on the last day of the trip at Bosque.
RUFOUS-WINGED WOODPECKER (Piculus simplex) – A rather uncommon species, which we saw a couple of times along the Golfito road.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – Singles were seen on a couple of days at Wilson BG, then again at Arenal.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Seen or heard a bunch of times throughout the trip, including a bird at a nest hole on our way out from Los Cusingos.
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – Joe spotted our only ones, a pair which showed nicely along the Golfito Road.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) – Heard distantly at Wilson. [*]
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Common in the Pacific lowlands, with a few sightings also in the Cano Negro region.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – Very common and seen daily in the south, with one sighting also at Cano Negro.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – We heard them chuckling several times before we finally laid eyes on our first one around Arenal, then we saw a few more at Cano Negro.
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius) – A single bird was sighted during our drive out from Cano Negro. [b]
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Two birds were soaring overhead amongst a group of hawks and vultures in the Coto 47 Marsh area. [b]
Psittacidae (Parrots)
SULPHUR-WINGED PARAKEET (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) – A flock of 5 or more flew overhead a few times at Savegre, though we never got the long lingering looks we would have liked.
CRIMSON-FRONTED PARAKEET (Aratinga finschi) – The common large parakeet around San Isidro and Wilson BG.
OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (Aratinga nana) – A Caribbean lowland specialty, which we saw several times in the Cano Negro region.
ORANGE-FRONTED PARAKEET (Aratinga canicularis) – Restricted to the Guanacaste region. We had excellent looks at a few groups along the Guacimo road.
BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (Aratinga pertinax) – A recent invader from across the border in Panama, this species is now fairly common in the southwest. We saw good numbers along the road to the Coto 47 marsh.
SCARLET MACAW (Ara macao) – We were a little surprised when Denis claimed to have seen a couple flying over Golfito, but apparently a small population has been reestablished in the region, and we found a perched pair near the waterfront shortly after his sighting. Of course we also saw good numbers up in the Tarcoles region, where they are much more common.
BARRED PARAKEET (Bolborhynchus lineola) – Mostly heard in the highlands, but we did see a big flock of 30+ birds screaming by overhead as we watched quetzals in the Savegre valley.
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – Numerous nearly throughout, Memorable was the one with the broken upper mandible at Talari Lodge.
BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis) – Can be tough to see other than in flight, but we had some awesome studies of these parrots as they perched in bare trees around the station at Wilson BG.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – Much scarcer than they had been in January, and we wound up seeing just a couple of birds at Wilson.
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – Generally the common small parrot, and we saw them regularly throughout.
RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis) – The most numerous Amazona, with regular sightings in the Pacific lowlands and at Arenal. They were especially numerous around a couple of small communities south of Golfito where they must have been gathering to roost or the night, as there seemed to be some in just about every tree!
YELLOW-NAPED PARROT (Amazona auropalliata) – Heard as we birded the Tarcoles mangroves. [*]
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – A couple of fly overs at the Hotel Bougainvillea, then several more in the Tarcoles region.
MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa) – The largest of the CR Amazonas. We saw a few of these birds in the Golfito region and one pair at Arenal.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major) – Our only one was at Arenal, where a few of the group managed to get on a skulking male at the casona viewpoint.
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Just one male of this species, too, at the lagoon at Cano Negro, but everyone got to see this neat bird.

Another member of the ant swarm attendees, the dapper little Spotted Antbird. (Photo by Joe Suchecki)

BLACK-HOODED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bridgesi) – We saw only one bird, a female, at Los Cusingos, though we heard a couple more around Esquinas.
RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (Thamnistes anabatinus) – A fairly common member of mixed canopy flocks at middle elevations. We saw this unique antshrike first at Los Cusingos, then again at Wilson and finally at Arenal.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – Our only ones were a couple of birds along the Rio Java trail at Wilson.
STREAK-CROWNED ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus striaticeps) – Nice views of a male of this regional specialty along the trails at the Arenal Sky Walk.
SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor) – A lone male at Wilson, another lone male at Arenal, and a female at Bosque were all we saw of this widespread mid-elevation antwren.
DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis) – I think most of the group got pretty good views of either or both of a pair at Los Cusingos.
DUSKY ANTBIRD (Cercomacra tyrannina) – Good views of a male feeding under the streetlight below the lodge at Arenal.
BARE-CROWNED ANTBIRD (Gymnocichla nudiceps) – A fine antbird day was capped with incredibly good views of a pair of these handsome antbirds along the Lago Arenal road.
CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza exsul) – A lone bird seen well at Los Cusingos was our only one for the trip.
DULL-MANTLED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza laemosticta) – Another prize from our big antbird day at Arenal. We had fine looks at a pair along the Lago Arenal road. One of them even showed the normally concealed white triangle on its back, a sign that it was a little excited.
ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza zeledoni) – The new name of the former Immaculate Antbird, which was recently split into 2 species. We had close views of about 4 of these at our fantastic army ant swarm at the Arenal Sky Walk.
BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys leucaspis bicolor) – Three birds showed well at a small army ant swarm at Los Cusingos, and several more were seen at pur Arenal Sky Walk ant swarm.
SPOTTED ANTBIRD (Hylophylax naevioides) – Another army ant aficionado, this gorgeous small antbird was also seen beautifully at our Arenal ant swarm, with at least 4 of them present among the other antbirds.
OCELLATED ANTBIRD (Phaenostictus mcleannani) – This is always a highly coveted species, so our views of 3 or more at close range at the Arenal ant swarm were nothing short of spectacular! This was Ann's overall favorite bird of the trip.
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
SCALED ANTPITTA (Grallaria guatimalensis) – Generally a skulking and hard to see species, but we had a couple on the trails at Bosque, one of which we almost had to kick out of the way as it just kept hopping unconcernedly along in front of us. Easily one of the best views I've had of this species.
THICKET ANTPITTA (Hylopezus dives) – As in my January tour, this one was dead easy along the road at Arenal. I have extensive experience with this one from my days at Rancho, and never once did one behave like this one. In fact, most times, we never did see them, even after 30 minutes or more of trying!
Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
SILVERY-FRONTED TAPACULO (Scytalopus argentifrons) – One called next to the trail at Bosque and we soon managed to lure it in for some pretty fine views of what it an exceptionally hard bird to see.
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – Nice looks for most at a bird that was feeding around the compost piles at Esquinas.
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus) – We saw singles of the small woodcreeper on a couple of days at Wilson.
TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina) – The woodcreepers in this genus are regular army ant followers, and that is where we saw them, at ant swarms at Los Cusingos.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – Quite widespread and common, though we saw very few. Just one bird at Esquinas, and a couple at Arenal.
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – Our only sighting was of a single bird along the Golfito road.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Pretty common on both slopes, and we saw or heard this species regularly at several locations.
BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus) – We saw this very striking woodcreeper a couple of times in the Golfito region, where it seems fairly common.
SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius) – One of the commonest woodcreepers in mid-elevation forests. We saw them regularly at Wilson, Arenal, and Bosque.
BROWN-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus pusillus) – Awesome looks at this amazing bird with a mixed flock while we were waiting for White-tailed Emerald to make a return visit to some flowers at Wilson.
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – One of the most widespread and numerous woodcreepers at lower elevations, and we saw quite a few.
SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes affinis) – Replaces the preceding species at higher elevations. We saw a few in the Savegre valley, and one at Bosque.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – Seen a bunch of times at a number of sites.
BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii) – We had pretty good views of a couple of these great birds along the Providencia Road on our first day, then saw another quite well in the oak forest at Savegre.
LINEATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla subalaris) – Seen by a few shortly after we arrived in the oak forest at Savegre.
STRIPED WOODHAUNTER (Hyloctistes subulatus) – An often difficult to see bird, and I don't think many saw our lone one in the Golfito area all that well.
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (HYPOPHAEUS) (Automolus ochrolaemus hypophaeus) – This is the Caribbean slope form, which has a very different voice than the Pacific slope form. We saw just one in the Arenal area.
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (EXSERTUS) (Automolus ochrolaemus exsertus) – Quite common and seen well several times at Wilson.
RUDDY FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Automolus rubiginosus) – Very local in the country, with Wilson BG being one of the best places for it. We heard them a couple of times, but they played tough, and I think only Denis got a reasonable view.
SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens) – A few of these were in among some feeding flocks in the forest at Bosque.
RUDDY TREERUNNER (Margarornis rubiginosus) – Quite numerous in the highlands, and seen daily in the Savegre valley.

A common bird of the highlands, the Sooty Thrush is one of a number of Chiriqui endemics, restricted to the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. (Photo by Joe Suchecki)

RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops) – Several sightings at Wilson, where a noisy one greeted us outside the restaurant shortly after our arrival. We also had one at Bosque.
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) – A southern specialty that we saw very well in the streamside vegetation at Copabuena.
SLATY SPINETAIL (Synallaxis brachyura) – A couple at Copabuena were right alongside our Pale-breasted Spinetails, and we also saw these at the casona at Arenal.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe) – Our only one was in the dry northwestern lowlands along the Guacimo Road, though we also heard them at Cano Negro.
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Quite common in the south, where we saw them several times. Generally more brightly colored than the rather drab Northern BT.
YELLOW TYRANNULET (Capsiempis flaveola) – A couple of pairs in the Cano Negro region, the first along the edge of the lagoon during our boat trip, the second right outside our hotel.
YELLOW-CROWNED TYRANNULET (Tyrannulus elatus) – Good views of one along the entrance road to Esquinas.
GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata) – Best seen was a cooperative bird behind the restaurant at Talari.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Common throughout and there were very few days we missed this species.
LESSER ELAENIA (Elaenia chiriquensis) – Great studies of a couple of birds along the Copabuena road, where those two little girls tried to convince me to come teach English in their school!
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Pretty numerous in the Savegre valley.
TORRENT TYRANNULET (Serpophaga cinerea) – The first one was right on the peak of that roof in Savegre. On the peak, right on the peak. Good thing we saw a few more in less ambiguous locations;-)
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – Just a few sightings of this fairly nondescript flycatcher in the San Isidro area.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris) – Hard to believe we saw only one of these common birds at Wilson, but we saw only one.
PALTRY TYRANNULET (Zimmerius vilissimus) – A very widespread species in the country, and we had several encounters at various sites.
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus) – I love this feisty little flycatcher, which we saw well along the trails at Wilson BG.
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – Heard at Esquinas. [*]
SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) – Also heard only at Esquinas. [*]
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – Common it is, and we saw them just about everywhere.
BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum nigriceps) – It's not often you get to see this canopy dweller from above, but that's the look we had from the viewing platform at the Arenal Sky Walk.
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – Best was our very responsive bird that showed so well at Wilson, but we also saw singles at Esquinas and Bosque.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) – Seen daily in the Pacific lowlands, but we didn't see this common species anywhere else, surprisingly.
WHITE-THROATED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus mystaceus) – We had an incredibly excited bird along the Rio Java trail at Wilson BG. He had his wings flared out and his crest raised, showing off the usually concealed orange coronal patch. I had never seen one looking like that before.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus coronatus) – Super looks at one inside the forest at Los Cusingos.
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus) – We had singles of this pretty little flycatcher on five days, and various sites, including great looks at one above the compost pile at Esquinas.
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) – We saw these endearing little flycatchers beautifully in the Savegre valley.
DARK PEWEE (Contopus lugubris) – Good looks along the roadside as we left Bosque for the return to San Jose.
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – A silent wood-pewee at Esquinas was actually unidentified, but in my experience, Eastern is by far the more likely. [b]
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – Pretty common in the Cano Negro region. The exceptionally short primary projection sets this one apart from the similar, but longer winged, migrant pewees.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – Overall the most numerous wintering Empid in the country, and we had scattered records at several different sites. [b]
WILLOW FLYCATCHER (Empidonax traillii) – We would have left this one as a Willow/Alder Flycatcher, but we enticed it sing the clear "fitz-bew" of a Willow. At Cano Negro. [b]
YELLOWISH FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flavescens) – A few seen in the forest at Bosque.
BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax atriceps) – Like the above species, a very easily identified Empid. We saw these ones at high elevation in the Savegre region.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – Common along rivers in a bunch of areas.
LONG-TAILED TYRANT (Colonia colonus) – A pair showed nicely on both of our morning visits to the casona at Arenal.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – Heard a lot, but only seen once, on the trails at Wilson.
RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra) – Good views of a single bird at Esquinas.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – Generally the most common of this genus in CR. We saw small numbers at a number of sites.
NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus nuttingi) – Only in the dry northwest, where we had one along the Guacimo Road. Having both Dusky-capped and a Brown-crested nearby helped in the identification, as this is a tough group of birds to sort out.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – One along the Golfito Road, and a couple in the mangroves at Rincon. [b]
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – We had just one of these large Myiarchus along Guacimo Road.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common throughout.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – A little less common than kiskadee, but still seen most days.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Also common throughout.
GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis) – Fairly common throughout, though generally outnumbered by Social.
WHITE-RINGED FLYCATCHER (Conopias albovittatus) – Great looks at a pair of these fairly local flycatchers from the casona viewpoint at Arenal.
GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes hemichrysus) – Pretty good numbers in the Savegre valley, with one also at Bosque. Though it looks a lot like kiskadee, it is closer related to Sulphur-bellied and Streaked.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Just a couple of sightings in the Pacific lowlands.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – These Austral migrants were certainly back from their wintering grounds, and we saw and heard them most days. [a]
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Numerous throughout.
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) – A single bird along the Guacimo Road was our only one. [b]
FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savana) – After finally tracking some down at La Gamba, starting with a short-tailed one, we went on to see several more, including some long tailed birds, in the Coto 47 region.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
LOVELY COTINGA (Cotinga amabilis) – Once again it was pretty distant, but there was no mistaking that it was a male of this species, not with that electric blue color! From the casona at Arenal.
TURQUOISE COTINGA (Cotinga ridgwayi) – Denis found our first one, a male, perched a loooooong way off along the Golfito Road. The next morning we searched for it in the same area, and our driver, Lenin, found it again. That time we had superb scope views of this spectacular bird. Finally, we also saw a young male, just starting to get his blue feathers in, at the Rincon Bridge.
RUFOUS PIHA (Lipaugus unirufus) – Mainly heard only, though David managed to see one perched overhead along the Golfito Road before it took off.
YELLOW-BILLED COTINGA (Carpodectes antoniae) – The Rincon Bridge is a well known site for this species, and the 8 of these we saw flying around there made it pretty obvious why!
SNOWY COTINGA (Carpodectes nitidus) – Well, we didn't have a repeat of the 11 in one tree from my January trip, but the two pairs we found on the way to Cano Negro was more than enough to make us happy. Nice spotting by someone: Donnalyn? Diann?
Pipridae (Manakins)
WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera) – A couple of sightings of a female and an adult male at Wilson. I think Ann was the only one to see an adult male.

This one's for you, Denis! Not the best photo, but still a stellar bird: Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

LONG-TAILED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia linearis) – A male would have been nice, but we had to be satisfied with a female of this species in the mangroves at Tivives. Still, it's better than nothing.
RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis) – Wonderful views of this moonwalking manakin in the forest reserve of Los Cusingos. We even got to see it do its moves!
WHITE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus candei) – A couple of sightings of the flashy males at Arenal, including one in a fruiting fig tree below the hotel's viewing deck.
ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus aurantiacus) – The displaying males at Talari were elusive and missed by a couple of folks, but another male we spotted in the canopy at Wilson BG, while waiting for the reappearance of the White-tailed Emerald, sat for long enough for all to enjoy.
BLUE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Lepidothrix coronata) – Jon and Jenny were the only ones to get on this bird, a male, along the trails at Los Cusingos.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor) – We had just a couple of sightings of this species in the Golfito region.
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Pretty widespread and seen regularly.
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor) – This highland becard was seen nicely our first day along the Providencia Road (a pair), the following day in the Savegre valley (a male).
CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus) – One in the mangroves at the Rincon Bridge, and a pair at the casona viewpoint at Arenal.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – We had singles females (or young birds) several times at Wilson and Golfito before finally seeing a male in the dry northwest, where they are quite common.
Vireonidae (Vireos)
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – A few of these were seen at Wilson BG. [b]
BLUE-HEADED VIREO (Vireo solitarius) – Dave saw one of these rare migrants behind his cabin at Wilson. [b]
YELLOW-WINGED VIREO (Vireo carmioli) – We saw this highland specialty daily in the Savegre region, then again at Bosque.
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys) – A couple at Bosque were the only ones.
PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus) – We saw a few of these migrants in the south, where they are fairly common. They seem to be much less regular in the north. [b]
TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET (Hylophilus ochraceiceps) – An elusive bird of mid-story flocks, but we managed to see a couple at Wilson BG.
LESSER GREENLET (Hylophilus decurtatus) – Pretty common at most lower elevation sites.
GREEN SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius pulchellus) – Pretty good views of a couple with a canopy flock along Wilson BG's Rio Java trail.
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Nice scope views of one that came in to the pygmy-owl tape in the upper Savegre valley.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
AZURE-HOODED JAY (Cyanolyca cucullata) – We were oh so close at Bosque. [*]
WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE-JAY (Calocitta formosa) – Mainly a bird of the dry northwest, and we did see them nicely at Tarcoles and along the Guacimo road, but the best views were probably at Arenal, where a small population lives at one of the few Caribbean slope sites for this species.
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – Pretty scarce in the south, but seen regularly around Arenal.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – The common highland swallow.
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Just one bird at Arenal, with a Southern alongside for a good comparison.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Only one in the south at Wilson, but seen regularly in the north.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – Commonly seen in cities and towns.
MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – Several encounters in the north, including along the Rio Frio.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Pretty common in the Pacific lowlands, but a single bird perched on a wire at Savegre Lodge was exceptional, and my first for the site. [b]
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
NIGHTINGALE WREN (Microcerculus philomela) – This bird has such a great song, like a tone deaf person whistling a tune. It doesn't look like much though, does it? We had a couple at Arenal.
SCALY-BREASTED WREN (WHISTLING) (Microcerculus marginatus luscinia) – Heard in the Golfito region. [*]
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Widespread and seen most days.
OCHRACEOUS WREN (Troglodytes ochraceus) – A few good looks at this tiny arboreal wren in the Savegre Valley.
TIMBERLINE WREN (Thryorchilus browni) – A highland specialty, occurring both at and below timberline, as the name suggests. We had excellent views of a pair along the Providencia Road.
SEDGE WREN (Cistothorus platensis) – Very local in the country, and pretty elusive. We eventually got views of one that popped up and sang, in the Cartago region.
BAND-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus zonatus) – A noisy pair showed well at the casona viewpoint at Arenal.
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) – Common in the Carara region and the dry northwest.
BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) – Super views in the heat of the day in riverside vegetation on our way in to the Coto 47 marsh.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – Pretty common and seen a few times at Los Cusingos and Wilson BG.
SPOT-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius maculipectus) – In CR this wren only occurs in the Lake Nicaragua lowlands of the north. We had super looks at a pair on our way out of Rio Frio, making up for the ones that got away at the boat dock.
BLACK-THROATED WREN (Pheugopedius atrogularis) – An inveterate skulker, but we managed a good view of a couple in the Arenal region.
BANDED WREN (Thryophilus pleurostictus) – I was a bit surprised to find one in the mangroves along the Guacimo Road as it really isn't associated with mangroves usually. Guess the scrub next to the mangroves was suitable. Along the Tivives road we saw some in some more typical scrub, though there were mangroves nearby here, too.
STRIPE-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus thoracicus) – We had several great looks at this beauty at Arenal, including at the streetlight bugfest.
PLAIN WREN (Cantorchilus modestus) – Heard often throughout, though the only ones we saw were a cooperative pair at Copabuena.
RIVERSIDE WREN (Cantorchilus semibadius) – Another gorgeous wren, and a southwestern specialty to boot. We had a few nice views of these at Los Cusingos and Esquinas.
BAY WREN (Cantorchilus nigricapillus) – The Caribbean equivalent of the Riverside Wren, and another beauty, We had a couple along the Arenal lakeshore road.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) – A common voice from lowland forest, though can be tough to see. Best views of this one were at the streetlight below our Arenal lodge.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys) – A common voice of highland forest, replacing White-breasted in the mountains. We had several views in the Savegre valley and at Bosque.
SONG WREN (Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus) – An odd wren with a fantastic song. We enjoyed them both visually and aurally around our Arenal hotel and at the Arenal Sky Walk.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
TAWNY-FACED GNATWREN (Microbates cinereiventris) – Pretty elusive, though at least a few folks got on these birds at the Arenal Sky Walk.
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – A single bird at Los Cusingos and another by the casona viewpoint at Arenal. An active little bird that never stays still and likes dense vine tangles, but i think everyone managed decent views.
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris) – In breeding plumage the male has no trace of white on the lores, in nonbreeding it has less white than the similar Tropical Gnatcatcher. We actually saw males in both plumages, as this is the season they are moulting into breeding plumage. We also saw them together with Tropical Gnatcatcher, as they overlap in the NW, so we had a pretty good clinic in gnatcatcher identification.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea) – Much more widespread that White-lored, which is restricted to the dry northwest. We saw them regularly through the trip.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus) – One bird was seen by some along the river at Trogon Lodge, another was along the river at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The race found here is considerably paler than the ones in the Rocky Mountains of the US and Canada.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BLACK-FACED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes melanops) – Their ethereal, flutelike songs were heard often in the highland forests but we only saw one at Trogon Lodge. The views were fantastic however, so only hearing them from then on was just fine.
BLACK-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus gracilirostris) – The highest elevation nightingale-thrush, seen commonly in the upper parts of the Savegre Valley.

The charismatic and photogenic "Amigo de hombre", better known as the Collared Redstart. This friendly little guy posed for us on the grounds of Trogon Lodge. (Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast)

ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – Some nice views of this attractive bird at the San Joaquin Marsh and elsewhere in the south.
SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus fuscater) – Ann spotted our only one of these at the compost pile at La Paz.
RUDDY-CAPPED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus frantzii) – Occurs a little bit lower than the somewhat similar Black-billed. It was seen by some in the lower parts of the Savegre valley, then by all at Bosque, where they are quite common.
BLACK-HEADED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus mexicanus) – Arguably the best looking of the country's nightingale-thrushes. We had wonderful looks at one along the Waterfall Trail at Arenal.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – A single bird on the grounds at Talari was the only one of the trip. [b]
SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens) – Numerous at high elevations, down to about the Trogon Lodge in the Savegre Valley.
MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus) – Lots in the Savegre Valley and at Bosque.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – Every single day, and rightly so... it is the national bird of Costa Rica!
WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus assimilis) – A few gave good views as they fed in a fruiting fig tree at Wilson, and the fruiting figs around the lodge at Arenal also supported a few.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – This recent arrival is doing quite well in te south, where we saw a t least 8 of them.
Ptilogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha) – An often tough-to-find highland specialty, primarily because their calls are rather soft and indistinct. But we had great views of several at a regular site along the Providencia Road, and they performed very well for us.
LONG-TAILED SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptilogonys caudatus) – Denis's big miss from his previous CR trip, and consequently one of his major targets this trip. And after those multiple smashing views, it also became his favorite bird of the tour.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – Our only one showed off for us along the trail at La Paz. [b]
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – In general a far more numerous bird than the previous, and we saw them in small numbers throughout. [b]
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – Can be a fairly common migrant, but we saw just a couple of birds in the San Isidro area. [b]
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Seen fairly regularly at several sites, primarily in the south. [b]
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – Several in the mangroves along the Guacimo Road, and a handful along the Rio Frio on our boat trip. [b]
FLAME-THROATED WARBLER (Oreothlypis gutturalis) – A spectacularly beautiful Chiriqui endemic, seen daily in the highlands.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – One of the most common wintering warblers in CR, and seen most days. [b]
GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala) – Seen nicely in the Sedge Wren pastures near Cartago on our first day, then again in the dry northwest. Generally prefers drier grassland habitat than the other two resident yellowthroats.
MASKED YELLOWTHROAT (CHIRIQUI) (Geothlypis aequinoctialis chiriquensis) – Super views of this local southern specialty, which is sometimes split as Chiriqui Yellowthroat, as this population is geographically isolated from other Masked Yellowthroat populations. We had ours at Copabuena, where apparently the tall grass has all been cut down since our visit, leaving no habitat for this bird. Yikes!
MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) – Fairly common but skulking and easily overlooked. We had singles at several different sites. [b]
KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – Another easily overlooked winter resident. We had good views of a couple inside the forest at Arenal. [b]
OLIVE-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis semiflava) – Good looks at one in a roadside marsh on our way up to Cano Negro.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – An uncommon winterer. We had a couple at Talari and Wilson BG, and one in the Carara region. [b]
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Quite common at middle elevations, and we saw several at Wilson BG, and heard them regularly in the Arenal region.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – Surprisingly scarce; we saw only two at Wilson BG. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – Common throughout, and especially numerous in the coastal regions. [b]
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – One of the most common migrant warblers in the country; we missed them only in the Savegre valley. [b]
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – A regular winter resident in the highland forests. [b]
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – A couple in San Jose on our first day, and a single bird in the Wilson BG area.
BLACK-CHEEKED WARBLER (Basileuterus melanogenys) – We saw this highland specialty daily in the Savegre region.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus) – A flock of these were regular morning visitors to the streetlight below our Arenal lodge.
THREE-STRIPED WARBLER (Basileuterus tristriatus) – Seen in most mixed flocks we encountered at Bosque.
BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) – Seen at a number of sites, probably best at Arenal, where a confiding pair were among the morning visitors at the streetlight.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – A quite numerous winter resident in the highlands. [b]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Regular at both Wilson and Bosque.
COLLARED REDSTART (Myioborus torquatus) – Mainly occurs above the range of Slate-throated. We saw our first hanging around a store on our way up to Trogon Lodge, then saw them a bunch more times over the next couple of days. A friendly, confiding bird, well deserving of its local name : "amigo de hombre".
WRENTHRUSH (Zeledonia coronata) – This weird little warbler can be tricky to see, but we had an extraordinarily curious one in the Savegre valley that gave us all an eyeful! A crowd pleaser, for sure, and Jon's favorite bird of the trip.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – Often seen following army ant swarms, and we had about 4 of them attending the ant swarm we found at Los Cusingos.
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus) – Seen a few times in mixed flocks at Los Cusingos, Wilson and the Golfito region. The birds of this region (sw Costa Rica and extreme western Panama) belong to the distinct race nitidissimus, and the males are unique in having pale irises and a concealed rusty crown patch.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – This tanager occurs mainly in scrubby secondary habitats, and it was pretty scarce on the trip. Diann spotted our only pair at the airport marsh near San Vito.
WHITE-THROATED SHRIKE-TANAGER (Lanio leucothorax) – Heard from the Arenal Sky Walk. [*]
CRIMSON-COLLARED TANAGER (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus) – Heard near Arenal. [*]
PASSERINI'S TANAGER (Ramphocelus passerinii) – Abundant in the Caribbean lowlands.
CHERRIE'S TANAGER (Ramphocelus costaricensis) – Once considered conspecific with Passerini's. These birds were numerous on the Pacific slope.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Almost daily.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Likewise almost daily, though not as numerous as the above.
GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Tangara larvata) – Generally the most common of the Tangara tanagers. We saw them most days.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Tangara guttata) – We had these gorgeous tanagers wonderfully at the feeders at both Talari and Wilson. At least once someone misidentified these as Spangle-cheeked Tanagers, but they were evidently looking at the wrong cheeks;-)
SPANGLE-CHEEKED TANAGER (Tangara dowii) – Inexplicably scarce and missed in the Savegre valley, but we made up for it with some fabulous looks at Bosque.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Ho hum, just another beautiful tanager. We saw these ones at several sites.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala) – Numerous in mid elevation and highland forests throughout.
SCARLET-THIGHED DACNIS (Dacnis venusta) – The scarlet thighs might be tough to see, but the bird is a stunner even without them. We had them nicely at Arenal and La Paz.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – We saw a lone male at Talari, then saw a few more in the Pacific lowlands, including the Rincon Bridge.
SHINING HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes lucidus) – Two birds in the Golfito area were the only ones.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – These beauties were seen at a bunch of laces, including the feeders at Talari.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – Another widespread honeycreeper, seen a bunch of times, including on the feeders.
SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea) – This nectar thief was fairly common in the Savegre Valley.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – Common in lowland grassland areas.
VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina) – The default seedeater in most of the country. We saw both the all black Caribbean form and the black and white Pacific slope form.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila torqueola) – A couple in grasslands in the Golfito region, then quite a few around Cano Negro.
YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis) – The rice in which we had so many seedeaters in January had all been cut, but a lone male of this species was still hanging on in some tall grass adjacent to the field, near Esquinas.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Oryzoborus funereus) – Common around Golfito, where they are easily recognizable, and Cano Negro, where the males look very alike the somewhat smaller Caribbean form of Variable Seedeater.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Common everywhere but the highlands, including a bunch of the hummingbird feeders at La Paz.
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – Fairly numerous in mid elevation grasslands.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – Only in the south, where we had singles on two days at Talari and Wilson.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – A few on the hotel grounds our first day, then not seen again until we got to the Caribbean lowlands near the end of the trip.
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – By far the most widespread and numerous saltator.
BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps) – One flew across the road on our way up to the Arenal Sky Walk, but we couldn't stop as another bus was right on our tail. Surprisingly that was the only one we saw.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
YELLOW-THIGHED FINCH (Pselliophorus tibialis) – Quite a few in the Savegre valley. Those puffy yellow thighs always impress folks!
LARGE-FOOTED FINCH (Pezopetes capitalis) – Some great views of this highland specialty in the Savegre Valley, though those feet aren't really that big.
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSH-FINCH (Arremon brunneinucha) – Seen easily at Bosque, where this skulker is a feeder bird.
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) – Seen several times at various low elevation sites.
COSTA RICAN BRUSH-FINCH (Arremon costaricensis) – This taxon was until recently treated as a subspecies of Stripe-headed Brush-Finch, but that species has been chopped up into several different species now. This one is endemic to Costa Rica and Panama. We had fantastic looks at a pair at Copabuena, a nice consolation prize for the Rosy Thrush-Tanagers that failed to show.
OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus) – A single bird along the Tivives road during our gourmet yogurt and cereal picnic lunch.
BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris) – A couple around Wilson BG, and a bunch more in the Caribbean lowlands.
WHITE-EARED GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone leucotis) – Jenny did a fine job of picking this one out of the shadows as it scratched around on the ground in the overgrown coffee plantation near the hotel our first afternoon.
PREVOST'S GROUND-SPARROW (CABANIS'S) (Melozone biarcuata cabanisi) – A real specialty of the Central Valley, as this form is found nowhere else, and could be a full species and a CR endemic. We had excellent looks our first afternoon in the little habitat that remains near the Bougainvillea.
STRIPE-HEADED SPARROW (Peucaea ruficauda) – Several groups of these were encountered along Guacimo Road.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – A common highland bird, closely related to our White-throated and White-crowned sparrows.
VOLCANO JUNCO (Junco vulcani) – We only found one in the high elevation paramo on Cerro de la Muerte, but one was all we needed.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus) – One of the most common Passerines in mid montane forests.
SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus) – Mostly replaces the Common Chlorospingus at high elevations. Pretty numerous in the Savegre valley.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava) – A pair or two were regulars at the Arenal feeders and the streetlight below the lodge.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – A common wintering species, seen almost daily. [b]
FLAME-COLORED TANAGER (Piranga bidentata) – Easily seen in the Savegre valley where we had them daily.
RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER (Habia rubica) – Seen a couple of times with mixed understory flocks at Wilson BG.
RED-THROATED ANT-TANAGER (Habia fuscicauda) – A group of three birds along the Peninsula Road at Arenal were the only ones for the trip.
BLACK-CHEEKED ANT-TANAGER (Habia atrimaxillaris) – A random stop along the Golfito Road produced a very responsive and cooperative male of this localized endemic, which is only found in this little corner of Costa Rica. What a beauty! [E]
CARMIOL'S TANAGER (Chlorothraupis carmioli) – Recently split from Olive Tanager of South America. A big noisy group of these birds visited the streetlight below our Arenal lodge for a scrumptious insect breakfast.
BLACK-THIGHED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus tibialis) – Jenny saw one in a mixed canopy flock in the oak forest at Savegre, but none of the rest of us managed to pick it out.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – Generally a common migrant, though we only saw small numbers at Talari and Wilson. [b]
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanocompsa cyanoides) – A heavy billed female was our first, in trailside scrub at Los Cusingos. We also had a few sightings in the Pacific lowlands.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – Pretty common along the Rio Frio, and there were a few in wet pastures near La Fortuna as well.
RED-BREASTED BLACKBIRD (Sturnella militaris) – A few birds in damp pastures in the Golfito region.
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – Like the Red-winged Blackbird, this species is a resident here, not a migrant. We had a couple in the Sedge Wren spot near Cartago and another around Coto 47.
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – This species started showing up in CR in the late 1980's, having spread southward from Nicaragua. They are now widespread and common in the north, where we saw them most days.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Numerous throughout.
NICARAGUAN GRACKLE (Quiscalus nicaraguensis) – A real specialty of the Cano Negro area, and a much more distinctive bird that the books make out. We saw at least 5 males and a female of this slender grackle along the Rio Frio, and had wonderful comparisons with the much bigger Great-tailed Grackle, which was also present here.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – Fair numbers seen in appropriate open habitats at a number of sites.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – A brood parasite which targets oropendolas and caciques exclusively. Our lone bird was seen in the Arenal region.
BLACK-COWLED ORIOLE (Icterus prosthemelas) – Quite common in the Arenal region.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius) – A few of these migrants were in flowering trees along the Rio Frio. [b]
STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus) – Three of these lovely orioles were encountered in the dry scrub along the Guacimo road.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – A very common migrant throughout. [b]
YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (Amblycercus holosericeus) – After hearing them several times, we finally managed a look at a pair of these sneaky birds at the casona viewpoint at Arenal.
SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (SCARLET-RUMPED) (Cacicus uropygialis microrhynchus) – Heard in the Golfito region. [*]
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – A recently established colonist from Panama. We saw a single bird fly past at Copabuena, than saw about 5 more at a small colony near the San Vito air strip. [N]
MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma) – Numerous in the Caribbean lowlands, and especially well seen at the feeders at Arenal.
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis) – A species of the dry tropical forests of the Guanacaste. We saw a few along the Guacimo Road.
YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla) – One of the most widespread of the euphonias in CR. We saw them regularly in the south, and heard them around Arenal.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – Nice views of a pair at the Wilson BG feeders, and also seen in the Golfito region.
YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea) – Mostly replaces the similarly yellow-throated Thick-billed Euphonia in the north. We had several in the Arenal region.
SPOT-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia imitans) – A specialty of SW Costa Rica and western Panama. One of the only species to visit the feeders at Los Cusingos while we were there.
OLIVE-BACKED EUPHONIA (Euphonia gouldi) – A male in a fruiting fig tree below the viewing deck at Arenal was our only one.
TAWNY-CAPPED EUPHONIA (Euphonia anneae) – We had only a couple of sightings of this usually common mid elevation forest euphonia at Arenal.
GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia callophrys) – Several of these gorgeous creatures were seen in the Savegre Valley, with more sightings in the upland forests at Bosque de Paz.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – Quite local in the country. We saw them a couple of times around Wilson BG. The birds here are of the black-backed form which also ranges into the southern US.
YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus) – A few birds were seen in the Savegre valley.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Seen a couple of times in towns, but thankfully not a very common species in CR. [I]

CENTRAL AMERICAN WOOLY OPOSSUM (Caluromys derbianus) – Lenin found one of these rarely seen opossums moving through the trees while it was still light in the late afternoon along the Peninsula Road at Arenal.
LONG-NOSED BAT (Rhynchonycteris naso) – Several roosting head down on a tree trunk beside the bridge at the stream crossing near Esquinas.
GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata) – A bunch of these were roosting behind the beer fridge at Esquinas.
GREATER BULLDOG BAT (Noctilio leporinus) – I may be way off base here, but I think the large bats feeding around the lights at Cano Negro (one of which was taken by that Black-and-white Owl) may have been this species.
COMMON TENT-MAKING BAT (Uroderma bilobatum) – Nice looks at these attractive stripe faced bats at a long used roost site near the pool at Villa Lapas.
MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata) – Heard more than seen, but we had some sightings at Coto 47 and along the Guacimo Road as well.
WHITE-THROATED CAPUCHIN (Cebus capucinus) – Few this trip, with just one sighting at Coto 47 on our second visit there.
CENTRAL AMERICAN SPIDER MONKEY (Ateles geoffroyi) – I found a trio of these monkeys roosting behind our rooms at Arenal, and we had nice views as they were waking up, yawning and stretching before getting their day started.
HOFFMANN'S TWO-TOED SLOTH (Choloepus hoffmanni) – Jenny spotted our only one in some gallery forest in an arroyo along Guacimo Road.
VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides) – The common large squirrel in the country.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – Also common though much smaller, like our Red Squirrels. Also generally more numerous in middle elevation forests, rarer in lowlands.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – Easy to see on the grounds of the Wilson BG.
PACA (Cuniculus paca) – Fabulous looks at these usually shy creatures at the corn meal feeders at Bosque, which is probably the best place to see these animals anywhere.
WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – Diann saw one along the road near Golfito, while the rest of us finally caught up in the north, where they were common at the feeders at Arenal and Bosque.
NEOTROPICAL OTTER (Lontra longicaudis) – Joy spotted one swimming below the Rincon Bridge while we watched for cotingas. It was moving rapidly down river, and stayed mostly underwater, surfacing briefly for air every few meters before going under again.
GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) – Lots of these big lizards were seen in the Pacific lowlands and at Cano Negro.
BLACK SPINY-TAILED IGUANA (Ctenosaura similis) – Pretty common in the dry northwest, and we saw a couple along the Guacimo Road.
COMMON BASILISK (Basiliscus basiliscus) – Pretty numerous along rivers in the Pacific lowlands. We even got to see a few running across the water.
TROPICAL HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mabouia) – Present in several of our hotels, where more often heard than seen.
CENTRAL AMERICAN WHIPTAIL (Ameiva festiva) – Usually pretty common, but I think Ann was the only one to see one at Arenal.
GREEN SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus malachiticus) – And someone had a photo of one of these highland lizards from the grounds of Trogon Lodge.
TIGER RAT SNAKE (Spilates pullatus) – That big beautiful black and yellow snake crossing the road below the lodge at Arenal was this species.
FER-DE-LANCE (Bothrops asper) – Not to give you and nightmares, but after researching the possibilities, I've come to the conclusion that the massive cryptically colored snake crossing the road at night near Golfito was one of these very venomous serpents! Doesn't seem to be any other snakes that fit this description.
AMERICAN CROCODILE (Crocodylus acutus) – A bunch below the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles, including one missing most of its upper jaw.
SPECTACLED CAIMAN (Caiman crocodilus) – A few in the Golfito area, than lots of them along the Rio Frio, where they were easy to see with the water being as low as it was.
CANE TOAD (Bufo marinus) – A few at Wilson BG and Cano Negro.
SMOOTH-SKINNED TOAD (Bufo haematicus) – One of these non-warty toads in the forest at Los Cusingos.
SMOKY JUNGLE FROG (Leptodactylus pentadactylus) – The largest frog in the country. We saw a nice big female along the road near Esquinas one night.
MESO-AMERICAN SLIDER (Trachemys venusta) – I believe the turtles we saw along the river at Cano Negro were this common species.


Totals for the tour: 509 bird taxa and 15 mammal taxa