FIELD GUIDES BIRDING TOURS: Costa Rica: Birding the Edges Part I, the Deep South 2018
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Field Guides Tour Report
Costa Rica: Birding the Edges Part I, the Deep South 2018
Jan 6, 2018 to Jan 15, 2018
Tom Johnson & Cory Gregory


One of the most stunning and diverse family of birds we enjoy in Costa Rica are the hummingbirds. We tallied a healthy variety, including this highland-dwelling Lesser Violetear. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

January in Costa Rica. I'm not sure one could ask for a better place to be during the winter months! Tom and I, along with a fun bunch of like-minded birders, escaped the throes of winter and explored the southern reaches of Costa Rica on this Part 1 tour.

Although the forecast was of persistent rain, we were treated with pleasant weather for much of this tour. It was blustery and drizzly at the high elevations of Cerro de la Muerte but it stopped long enough for us to enjoy a splendid side trip to the habitat of one of the most quintessential highland species in Costa Rica, the Resplendent Quetzal! Not only did we see several of these gaudy show-stoppers, we were treated to a bonus Ochraceous Pewee, Flame-throated Warbler, and several other high-elevation specialties. We ventured on to lunch at the beautiful Paraiso Quetzal Lodge where highland hummingbirds zoomed around us, a Wrenthrush briefly came out of hiding, an Ochraceous Wren deftly dodged through some vine tangles, and we had encounters (of the close kind) with Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush and Large-footed Finch. Even lunch itself was "interrupted" by a Golden-browed Chlorophonia and the highland subspecies of Hairy Woodpecker. As we departed the highlands, we said hello to range-restricted species like Timberline Wren, Sooty Thrush, and Volcano Junco. Farther downhill, the feeders at Bosque del Tolomuco provided a couple of hours of fine, bird-filled entertainment.

Our time at Talari Mountain Lodge was filled with an impressive selection of birds like tanagers, doves, hummingbirds, toucans... and that was right from the patio! The feeders there hosted the striking Fiery-billed Aracari, Speckled Tanager, and several other eye-candy species like Green Honeycreeper and Cherrie's Tanager. Down by the river, we were treated to the Swift Spectacle at dusk, with Lesser Swallow-tailed and Chestnut-collared swifts among others. Los Cusingos, the home of the late Alexander Skutch, put on a great show starting with a fruit-demolishing flock that included Bay-headed and Gray-headed tanagers, Red-legged Honeycreeper, a Red-headed Barbet, and even a surprise appearance from a Russet-naped Wood-Rail! The trails there produced added bonuses like Golden-crowned Spadebill, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Blue-crowned Manakin, and Dot-winged Antwrens. As we said goodbye to Talari Mountain Lodge, we paused long enough to watch a couple of Laughing Falcons, several Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, and a rare Warbling Vireo flitting through the trees above the driveway.

Although we birded it only briefly in passing, it's hard not to mention our quick detour near the town of Volcán. Not only did we add a crisply-marked Slaty Spinetail here, we all got to hear the very mysterious and rare Rosy Thrush-Tanager! This is certainly one of the rarest birds we've found on Part 1 of this tour... ever!

We spent a couple of nights at Wilson Botanical Garden, which sits quite near the Panama border. Here we enjoyed a new suite of birds, and much of the activity centered around the hummingbird and butterfly gardens, where we caught glimpses of the sought-after White-crested Coquette. The garden was abuzz with other interesting hummers, too, like White-tailed Emerald, Stripe-throated Hermit, and the big Green Hermit. Overhead, we watched a Black Hawk-Eagle soaring with vultures, a singing Crested Oropendola, and additional fun variety at the feeders, including Streaked Saltator, Black-striped Sparrow, and great comparisons between Spot-crowned and Thick-billed euphonias. The lodge grounds there produced several of our highlights, like watching a perched Barred Forest-Falcon at dawn through the scope, a nicely-sitting White-throated Thrush, and we got to listen to a Mottled Owl at close range. The trails below Wilson Botanical Garden hosted some of the most impressive diversity of the trip, including a wealth of flycatchers like the diminutive Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant and an Ochre-bellied Flycatcher catching fruit, a persistently-singing Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush (in view, even!), Plain Antvireos foraging at eye-level, a shy Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner, and even 10+ species of warblers.

Our last lodge and home for several nights, this one down in the Pacific lowlands, was the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. The daily pattern of rain in the afternoons meant we were able to catch our breath between species-rich morning activities like Coto 47, the La Gamba/Golfito Road, and the Rio Rincón bridge! Our vigil at this well-known bridge, which sits at the base of the Osa Peninsula, tallied us nearly 100 species in just a matter of a few hours! The show here was headlined by attention-grabbers like the rare and endangered Yellow-billed Cotinga, a variety of kingfishers foraging below us, and an excellent showing of trogons, including the Gartered, Slaty-tailed, and Baird's. Our time in the lowlands around Coto 47 and Ciudad Neily was highlighted by some very range-restricted species barely found in Costa Rica; a Veraguan Mango sat on her precariously-located nest, a distant Savanna Hawk kept watch over a field, Brown-throated Parakeets eventually cooperated, and a Sapphire-throated Hummingbird worked roadside flowers. Much to our surprise, we were even treated to a variety of northern ducks that were uncommon for the area (Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Ring-necked Duck).

We ventured out at night a few times and, thankfully, our efforts paid off with awesome looks at Black-and-white Owl, Striped Owl, and Tropical Screech-Owl. Of course, there were Common Pauraques and a few Common Potoos as well!

Even our last day, one in which we covered substantial ground, was filled with new surprises and excellent species! It started with Gray-lined Hawk, White-shouldered Tanager, and White-necked Puffbird in the morning, to the lines of Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds gliding overhead near the coast. Farther along, we found a Zone-tailed Hawk flying with prey, a pinned-down Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at a roadside pasture, and some Groove-billed Anis at the edge of their range. All in all, a great day of birding/traveling!

A major thanks goes to our driver/guide, Vernon, for all his expertise and help navigating the country. The Field Guides and Costa Rica Gateway office staff, including Ruth, who managed this tour, also did a great job in making many of the preparations. Despite a few rainy afternoons, Tom and I had a great time and were pleased with the variety we all managed to track down! We sincerely hope you enjoyed exploring the southern reaches of Costa Rica and that it was a successful escape from winter. We were lucky to share our time with a fantastic group of birders that were quick to laugh, eager to learn, and always up for our adventures. For that, we thank you and hope to see you again on a future Field Guides tour with us.

Until we meet again, good birding!

-Cory


KEYS FOR THIS LIST
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


BIRDS
Tinamidae (Tinamous)
GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major) – This classic sound of the tropics was commonplace at locations such as Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, Los Cusingos, and the Rio Rincón bridge area. Seeing them, however, is rather tough.
LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) – Just like the previous species, seeing this tinamou is downright difficult! Still, we all got to hear the high-pitched quivering song at Wilson Botanical Garden and the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. [*]
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – The flooded Coto 47 fields we visited, known as Las Pangas, were loaded with this big, goose-like duck.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) – A wintering migrant from the north, these were abundant in the flooded Coto 47 fields alongside the previous species.
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) – This northern species was another surprise find in Coto 47/Las Pangas. These are very uncommon this far south in Costa Rica!
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) – Wow, although not on our target list of tropical specialties, this familiar dabbler was mixed in with the duck flock in Coto 47. This is considered rare at this location.
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris) – Tucked in with the thousands of ducks at Coto 47/Las Pangas during our walk out on the levee.
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis) – This diving duck was spotted at our "Northern Duck Extravaganza" in Coto 47/Las Pangas. It was tough picking this female-type out amongst the multitude but there was no doubt of the ID.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps) – Loud and garrulous, this species came into the feeders with force at Talari Mountain Lodge.
CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens) – Breakfast at Wilson Botanical Garden wasn't complete without a few of these gangly critters keeping an eye on us from the nearby trees.


Although guans aren't known for their graceful flight, they CAN still fly. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

GREAT CURASSOW (Crax rubra) – These giants were seen wandering the grounds at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Even when we were trying to leave the lodge, a horde of 6 had gathered in the road! What an amazing species.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
MARBLED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus gujanensis) – Although they remained quite distant, this secretive species was heard singing in the forests below Wilson Botanical Garden. [*]
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – A few of these black-and-white giants were seen in Coto 47 towards the end of our trip.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Soaring effortlessly on the ocean breezes, these gliders were seen as we drove north along the shore on our final day.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Our only expected cormorant on tour, this species was seen flying by the river at Talari Mountain Lodge as well as the Rio Rincón bridge.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – Our final day of birding yielded this familiar "snakebird" in a roadside pond as we headed back to San José.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Lines of these soared by us along the Pacific Coast on our final day as we drove north.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – Both the Coto 47 and Rio Rincón bridge area were good for this stocky, tropical heron.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – A common and widespread species that we saw most days in freshwater wetlands.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – A familiar and widespread species, these were tallied most of our days in the lowlands.


This tour could have been called The King Vulture Tour based on how many incredible encounters we had with them! The cherry on the cake was finding this tree with several perched! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – This medium-sized, slender species was seen every day once we dropped out of the mountains and into the Pacific lowlands.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Especially common in the Coto 47 area and along the entrance fields to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – Not an abundant species on tour, this slender heron was spotted just a few times including at the Rio Rincón bridge.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Our most commonly-seen heron, this abundant species was tallied almost every day of tour.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – Various ditches and wet areas in Coto 47 yielded this tiny heron. Due to their small size and stealthy habits, it's easy to miss these.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – The Pacific lowlands, especially near Coto 47, played host to several of these striking waders.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Perhaps a recent range expansion explains why these are starting to show up more and more in southern Costa Rica. We saw a few in the flooded fields of Coto 47/Las Pangas.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Any day with a spoonbill is a fun day. We saw a few scattered in the Coto 47 area as well as the Rio Rincón bridge area.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – A common and widespread species.


Although Roadside Hawks weren't uncommon, we had one fly by during lunch one day and participant Kevin Heffernan just nailed it!

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Abundant, widespread, and seen every day of tour.
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – This Turkey Vulture look-alike was spied in the lowlands near Ciudad Neily. It coursed low over the fields which is in itself a common trait for this species.
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – Costa Rica Edges, Part 1 was the tour that could have been renamed "The King Vulture Tour"! Not only did we see this amazing species at least 4 different days, we saw them repeatedly and, a highlight for all of us, we even got to see several perched in a tree near the Rio Rincón area! This was absolutely stunning to see.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – A familiar fish-eating species, they were common in places like Coto 47 and the Rio Rincón bridge area.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – Spied on our drive between Talari Mountain Lodge and Los Cusingos. This species has a habit of often hovering in place.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – The airspace above Wilson Botanical Garden was teeming with these graceful aerialists. One even flew over with a mossy branch; perhaps it was nesting material?
BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus) – We heard and then saw this magnificent bird of prey high overhead at Wilson Botanical Garden. After some rainy afternoons, that warm late-morning was too nice for it to resist!
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – One flew over on our final morning while we were birding the road between La Gamba and Golfito.


This Zone-tailed Hawk (with prey!) was a great surprise as we drove back north towards San Jose. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (MANGROVE) (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis) – We saw this mangrove-loving subspecies in the, well, mangroves near the Rio Rincón bridge. It was hard deciding whether to watch these or the Mangrove Hummingbird nearby!
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis) – Still a very rare bird anywhere in Costa Rica, one was tracked down in the rice fields south of Ciudad Neily. We all got scope views before a downpour sent us back to the bus.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – Despite being a common species and our most-commonly seen raptor, we had some memorable fly-by encounters.
WHITE HAWK (Pseudastur albicollis) – Even our lunch stops yielded awesome birds sometimes! Our lookout from the Restaurant Mirador La Torre did just that; one of these distinctive raptors was seen soaring below us.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – On our final day of birding, our driving route took us from the range of the Gray-lined Hawk to the range of the sister species, the Gray Hawk. We saw a few of these as we drove north and approached San José.
GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus) – Split off from Gray Hawk within the last 5 years or so, this raptor was seen quite well between La Gamba and Golfito.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – We had a few sightings sprinkled throughout including a flyover at Talari Mountain Lodge as well as some soaring overhead on the La Gamba/Golfito Road.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – Rather scare this time around. Our first sighting was from Los Cusingos where one rose on the thermals as the day warmed up.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – Talk about a bonus, on-the-fly sighting! We were driving north near the Rio Tárcoles when one of these was spotted right overhead. We all jumped out and got great looks at it (and the prey it was carrying).


Just three black shapes overhead at Wilson Botanical Garden? Not quite! Look carefully and you'll see that one is a Turkey Vulture, one a Black Vulture, but the third is the charismatic Black Hawk-Eagle! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (Laterallus albigularis) – Although fairly widespread, this crake was only heard this time around. [*]
GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Gray-necked Wood-Rail was split a couple of years ago into two species: Gray-cowled and Russet-naped. In this part of Costa Rica, we expect only Gray-cowled. We found this species at Los Cusingos waltzing behind the feeder station.
UNIFORM CRAKE (Amaurolimnas concolor) – We tried for this secretive species along the entrance road to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge early one morning. Finally, one called back! Unfortunately, it remained hidden. [*]
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica) – A stunner of a bird! We had nice looks at this species along the entrance road into Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) – Not a species we typically see on this tour! We stumbled into a few of these mixed with the duck flock in Coto 47/Las Pangas.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – Nearly 40 of these lanky shorebirds were spotted in Coto 47/Las Pangas alongside the jacanas and myriad of other waterfowl.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – We added this chunky plover on our final day as we drove back to San José. The beach at Playa Bejuco had this and other goodies.
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – Ciudad Neily hosted our first one but then we found 20+ in the flooded fields of Coto 47.
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia) – The beach at Playa Bejuco was hosting a singleton on our final day of birding.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – This species, which winters in Costa Rica, will migrate north and breed in the chilly arctic regions. For us, however, we found a dozen on the warm beaches of Playa Bejuco.


What more can you ask for? A beautiful sunset, a parade of swifts overhead, and a fun bunch of birders! This was at the bird-rich Talari Mountain Lodge at dusk. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – Abundant in the flooded fields of Coto 47.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – Our first sighting was of one in the mangroves near the Rio Rincón bridge. Then later on, a couple of these were working the beaches in Dominical.
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – Pale shorebirds, running in the surf... these just had to be Sanderlings. Playa Bejuco had a good number of these on our final day of birding.
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – Common in wet areas at Coto 47 and on the sandbars in the Rio Rincón.
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata) – It didn't move a muscle but we spotted it anyway! One of these cryptic shorebirds was sitting motionless in a wet area as we approached Esquinas.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – A common shorebird that we spotted in places like the river at Talari Mountain Lodge, the Rio Rincón, and Dominical.
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca) – About five of these were foraging in the flats of Coto 47/Las Pangas.
WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata) – It wasn't until our final day that we found a few of these chunky Tringas in Dominical and Playa Bejuco.
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes) – There were good numbers of these thin waders in the mudflats of Coto 47/Las Pangas.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – In Dominical on our final day, we scoped a few perched terns including these with their orange bills.
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – As with the previous species, we found these in Dominical during our lunch stop. These were smaller than the Royal Terns and with dark bills.


Seeing Scaled Pigeons at eye-level is a treat we weren't expecting! These are often seen rocketing overhead or perched in treetops. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Seen occasionally in urban areas. [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – We started seeing more of these once we dropped out of the mountains and into the lowlands around Ciudad Neily and Coto 47. At one point in Coto 47, we saw several feeding in some roadside grass right in town.
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – Three of these attractive pigeons were gathering grit on the road between La Gamba and Golfito. For a species we usually see high up in trees, this was a welcome treat!
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – This is the common Patagioenas pigeon right around the Hotel Bougainvillea and we saw several in town on our first couple of birding outings.
SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) – Once we dropped into the steamy lowlands around Esquinas, this species became more common. We heard them often and eventually got scope views of one from the La Gamba/Golfito road.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – A few of these tiny doves were seen on our return drive into San José on our final day. This species, which is fond of the drier northwest part of the country, has been increasing in the Central Valley.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – A common and widespread species, these were seen in scrubby and agricultural areas, often on fences and power lines.
BLUE GROUND-DOVE (Claravis pretiosa) – It was all too quick, but at least one of these doves flew by while we were birding the La Gamba/Golfito road. It was with two other ground-doves and it wasn't clear if they might have been female Blues or female Ruddies.
RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana) – Quail-doves are often tricky to see and this species was par for the course. However, we got to hear the low, mournful calls from the La Gamba/Golfito Road. [*]
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – Our most common leptotila dove of the trip, these were heard and seen throughout the tour, mostly on the ground in forested areas.


We ventured out at night and were treated to a great showing of nocturnal critters. Here's a Striped Owl photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassinii) – Rather an uncommon species on this tour, it wasn't until Wilson Botanical Garden that one was spotted foraging on the hillside behind the rooms.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – Common around San José and the Hotel Bougainvillea.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani) – Part 1 of the Edges tours put us solidly in range of this species. Throughout the trip, grassy and scrubby areas proved to be good for this long-tailed species.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Our final day of birding took us from the southern lowlands up along the coast and back to the city. However, that meant that we switched ranges for anis and we found a few of these groovy dudes in a grassy area at Playa Bejuco.
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) – None of them actually popped out for us, but we heard the distinctive "toop-teep" song a few times including at the Mouse-colored Tyrannulet spot near the Panama border. [*]
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – This long-tailed cuckoo was spotted a few times including at Los Cusingos and Wilson Botanical Garden where they were seen hopping up through the branches.
Strigidae (Owls)
TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – We heard this species first, briefly, just outside our rooms at Talari Mountain Lodge. Later on in the trip, we were out owling near La Gamba when we spotlighted this species perched right next to the road. Amazing views were had by all!
SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) – A few lucky folks got to hear this species calling near the rooms at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. [*]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – First heard and then seen in the back garden at the Hotel Bougainvillea on our first day.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – Although we got close, this owl remained unspotted! We heard it well each of our nights at Wilson Botanical Garden. [*]


Another owl we came face-to-face with on our drive was this Tropical Screech-Owl. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – Success! Our owling adventure near La Gamba provided great looks at one of these hunting alongside a road. Interestingly, this species is in the same genus as Mottled Owl.
STRIPED OWL (Asio clamator) – A beautiful owl, once you're able to study it! We found one of these while owling via the bus near La Gamba in the southern lowlands.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Fairly common although you really need to be out at night to have a chance. We found our first one at Talari Mountain Lodge where it perched on the road near the dining hall.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus) – A couple of these were spotted at night during our owling outing. They prefer to perch on fence posts and then make short flights out and back. Their eyeshine, even from a distance, is incredibly bright!
Apodidae (Swifts)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila) – The swift parade at Talari Mountain Lodge gave us great chances to study this (and other) swift species. This is a medium-sized swift in the same genus as the next species.


We enjoyed a great diversity of hummingbirds and participant Karen Heffernan nicely captured this Fiery-throated Hummingbird in the highlands on our first full day.

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – This is a large swift that's often seen in sizable flocks. They're not as "flappy" as other species though and, in fact, they will be seen gliding and soaring quite often. We scoped a distant flock at Talari Mountain Lodge that numbered between 100-200 birds!
VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – A small swift, this is the mid-elevation Chaetura we saw at Talari Mountain Lodge and Wilson Botanical Garden.
COSTA RICAN SWIFT (Chaetura fumosa) – Once we dropped into the lowlands around Coto 47 and Esquinas, this was the common Chaetura swift. We had looks at the Rio Rincón bridge and a few times overhead from the La Gamba/Golfito Road.
LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis) – Slender, sharp, and fast; these boldly-patterned swifts were seen a few times during our special Swift Parade at Talari Mountain Lodge.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – Although we never saw this hummer at feeders, we occasionally saw them fly-catching from high perches. We were able to scope one from the La Gamba/Golfito Road as well.
BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri) – Seeing this hummingbird along the Golfito Road was special but, what's even more, we got to see it attending a nest! Awesome views! [N]
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – What a big guy! These were attending a few choice flowers in the hummingbird garden at Wilson Botanical Garden. Interestingly, this species sings from leks! Finding the lek, however, is much more difficult.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris) – This is another large species of hermit. Our best views came from the La Gamba/Golfito Road in the lowlands towards the end of the tour.
STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis) – Much smaller than the previous two species, and more buffy in color, this hermit was reliable at the hummingbird garden at Wilson Botanical Garden.
LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus) – It was only in the highlands that we came across this species. The feeders at Paraiso Quetzal Lodge on Day 2 were hosting these by the dozen. Until a couple of years ago, these were called "Green Violetears" until they were split into Lesser and Mexican.
PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti) – This hummingbird species tends to avoid feeders which can sometimes make it tricky to spot. Still, we had luck at places like Los Cusingos and Wilson Botanical Garden where they fed on flowers outside of our rooms.
VERAGUAN MANGO (Anthracothorax veraguensis) – Still a rare bird in Costa Rica, a few of these have been nesting in the lowlands around Coto 47. We saw one sitting on a nest that it had constructed on a power line!
WHITE-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis adorabilis) – A tiny, exquisite species found only in southern Costa Rica and western Panama. A few lucky folks saw this hummer in the gardens at Wilson Botanical Garden.
GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula) – This chunky hummer was fairly common at Bosque Del Tolomuco in the highlands.


Although not the most vibrant of the hummers, this Stripe-throated Hermit still provided activity in the garden. Photo by participant Kevin Heffernan.

TALAMANCA HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes spectabilis) – In 2017, the species known as Magnificent Hummingbird was split into the Rivoli's Hummingbird and Talamanca Hummingbird. The latter, found only in the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama, was fairly common at the Paraiso Quetzal feeders on our 2nd day.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – Right as we were about to leave Bosque del Tolomuco, one of these appeared at the feeders! This sighting was our only one of the tour.
FIERY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Panterpe insignis) – This is a high-elevation specialist that's only found in Costa Rica and Panama. Hordes of these were swarming the feeders at Paraiso Quetzal where we all had great looks.
WHITE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis castaneoventris) – One of these range-restricted hummers showed well up the hill at Bosque del Tolomuco. This can be a tough species to find and it's one we don't see every time.
VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula) – Only found in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama, this tiny species was spotted first on the quetzal side-trip and then again later at the Paraiso Quetzal feeders.
SCINTILLANT HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus scintilla) – Just like the previous two species, this highland hummingbird is limited to Costa Rica and Panama. Our encounter was brief and rather odd; one came zooming in at ankle-level while we were standing in the parking area of Bosque del Tolomuco.
GARDEN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon assimilis) – At the Mouse-colored Tyrannulet spot near La Unión de Sabalito, we briefly spotted this hummer perched in trees on the other side of the grassy clearing. This all-green species is endemic to Costa Rica and Panama.
VIOLET-HEADED HUMMINGBIRD (Klais guimeti) – A few folks saw this attractive species near the rooms at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. It, however, didn't show up for the entire group.
SCALY-BREASTED HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeochroa cuvierii) – This species loves to perch and call incessantly! We were able to scope several from the dining patio at Talari Mountain Lodge.


Perhaps the most popular bird of Costa Rica, the Resplendent Quetzals put on a great show for us! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus) – Big, bold, and flashy! These were common at the Bosque del Tolomuco feeders but they would remain our only ones for the trip. This hummer is more of a middle-elevation species and we spent very little time in that range.
STRIPE-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa eximia) – Steve found this good one for us at Bosque del Tolomuco! Well done!
WHITE-TAILED EMERALD (Elvira chionura) – Although our first one came at Bosque del Tolomuco (thanks Steve!), we ended up seeing several more at the flowers in the Wilson Botanical Garden.
CHARMING HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia decora) – We encountered this, well, charming species several times between Wilson Botanical Garden, including one feeding at flowers during our hike, and Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
MANGROVE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia boucardi) – Costa Rica has four mainland endemic bird species and this is one of them! Vernon had some connections and they worked out splendidly; we drove into a strip of mangroves near the Rio Rincón bridge and found this range-restricted species without any trouble. [E]
STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerottei) – We didn't have to go far from the Bougainvillea to see this species... one was foraging at the flowers out front!
SNOWY-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia edward) – Our first sighting was at Bosque del Tolomuco where they were reliable at the verbena hedge. We would see more at Talari Mountain Lodge and Los Cusingos.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – Overall, this was our most common hummingbird species and they were seen on the vast majority of our days.
SAPPHIRE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Lepidopyga coeruleogularis) – Seeing this rare species was a treat! One was reported south of Ciudad Neily and we were able to connect with it at some roadside flowers. This hummingbird is typically only found in northern Colombia and in Panama.


We didn't have to go far from our first hotel to find amazing birds; this Lesson's Motmot was on the grounds of the Hotel Bougainvillea. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

Trogonidae (Trogons)
RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (Pharomachrus mocinno) – Thanks to the staff at Paraiso Quetzal, we had some inside knowledge on where to go to see this phenomenal and quintessential Costa Rican specialty! Our first full day of birding took us up in elevation and through their habitat and this little side-trip proved to be most rewarding! We got to see three, of these including a male!
SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena) – Our morning spent at the Rio Rincón bridge snagged us several species of trogon including this lowland-loving species. This is a red-bellied trogon with no white on the underside of the tail.
BAIRD'S TROGON (Trogon bairdii) – Like the previous species, this trogon has a red belly. However, the underside of the tail is mostly white. We found two of these at the Rio Rincón bridge where they were rather vociferous. This species is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – Violaceous Trogon was recently split into three species, one of which is Gartered. This is a yellow-bellied, lowland species that we found at the Rio Rincón bridge. At one point, it even came out and perched on the power lines.
BLACK-THROATED TROGON (Trogon rufus) – We were birding along the La Gamba/Golfito Road when one of these abruptly appeared at close range! This is another yellow-bellied trogon of lowland forests.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – Although relatively common and vocal, this species remained unseen at the Wilson Botanical Garden. [*]
Momotidae (Motmots)
LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii lessonii) – We had great luck with this species, tallying it almost every day! Blue-crowned Motmot was recently split into six species and Lesson's is the only one of those found in Costa Rica.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – This large and widespread species was seen at places like Talari Mountain Lodge (along the river) and the Rio Rincón bridge.
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – This is a fairly large, green kingfisher that we saw at Talari Mountain Lodge and again at the Rio Rincón bridge. Unlike the following species, this kingfisher lacks white spots on the wings.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – A couple of these were flying below us at the Rio Rincón bridge.


Even on our final day of birding, we found this White-necked Puffbird near La Gamba. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus) – Wow, what a bird! This black-and-white puffbird has a massive bill that it uses to catch large insects, frogs, and lizards. We found one along the La Gamba/Golfito Road that perched up nicely for everyone.
WHITE-WHISKERED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila panamensis) – Unlike the previous species, this puffbird prefers to stay well back in cover. We had to contort ourselves a little to see it but we eventually connected with one along the La Gamba/Golfito Road.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Although we first heard one at Wilson Botanical Garden, we later saw one at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge while birding up the side trail. This species feeds almost exclusively on flying insects such as dragonflies, butterflies, and cicadas.
Capitonidae (New World Barbets)
RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii) – Our first encounter was pretty amazing; a few of these came in to the feeding station at Bosque del Tolomuco. We were surprised when a female showed up at the Los Cusingos feeders as well.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
FIERY-BILLED ARACARI (Pteroglossus frantzii) – A beautiful specialty found only in Costa Rica and western Panama. A friendly horde would come in to feed at the Talari Mountain Lodge fruit which was fine with us!
YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – We found this beaut high in the trees at Wilson Botanical Garden. Turns out, they would be quite numerous and we saw them again at places like the Rio Rincón bridge and the road between La Gamba and Golfito.


Fiery-billed Aracari. Gorgeous! We had lots of fun being around this fan-favorite at Talari Mountain Lodge. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)
OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus) – Birding along the river at Talari Mountain Lodge yielded a few of these small and fascinating woodpeckers. Unlike other woodpeckers, they do not use their tail for support as they forage.
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – We were birding in the highlands at the Sendero Los Quetzales on our first day when one of these flew right overhead. In Costa Rica, this is a highland species.
GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysauchen) – An uncommon species of southern, wet forests. We spotted one of these at the White-crowned Sparrow location as well as the La Gamba/Golfito Road on our last day.
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – A common species of the southern Pacific regions of Costa Rica, this woodpecker was tallied nearly every day. This Melanerpes might remind you of the Red-bellied Woodpecker from the US.
HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii) – The gardens and coffee plantations near the Hotel Bougainvillea were good locations for this species and we tallied it both times we birded the area.


This Rufous-winged Woodpecker left us speechless as it swooped in and perched right in front of us at Esquinas! Awesome photo by participant Kevin Heffernan.

SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus) – A responsive bird showed well for us at the Wilson Botanical Garden both mornings.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (COSTA RICAN) (Picoides villosus extimus) – Right as we were sitting down to eat lunch at Paraiso Quetzal, one of these highland woodpeckers was found foraging on the ground down the hill. The subspecies found in Costa Rica and Panama, P. v. extimus, is smaller and darker than the ones we're used to farther north.
RUFOUS-WINGED WOODPECKER (Piculus simplex) – Our last morning at Esquinas, this uncommon woodpecker materialized right before our eyes at eye-level! This can be a tricky bird to see well so we were overjoyed by this encounter.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – We tracked one of these down at Wilson Botanical Garden one of the mornings we birded the grounds. This is typically a middle-elevation species and so it fit right in.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – A large and fairly common woodpecker. We saw them numerous times including at Talari Mountain Lodge, Los Cusingos, Wilson Botanical Garden, and the Rio Rincón bridge.
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – This is another large woodpecker, about the same size as the previous species. We heard one near the Rio Rincón bridge but it never showed itself. [*]
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) – Forest-Falcons are devilishly-tricky to see so imagine our luck when we actually spotted one perched high in a tree at Wilson Botanical Garden! We all got scope views as it surveyed the dawn. Amazing experience!
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – A common species that we tallied most days, often around agricultural areas.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – This species has been present in Costa Rica only since the early 1970s. It has spread rapidly and is now common in much of the country. We tallied at least one every day of tour.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – First spotted at Talari Mountain Lodge and then later at La Union de Sabalito and the Rio Rincón bridge. This species is known for its affinity for feeding on snakes!
MERLIN (Falco columbarius) – A distant one was perched up in some bare branches south of Ciudad Neily. This was the same area as the Savanna Hawk.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – We were busy watching ducks and shorebirds at the flooded fields in Coto 47/Las Pangas when we realized there was one of these impressive falcons perched in the field nearby.
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – Our first encounter was at Talari Mountain Lodge where these small, short-tailed parakeets zoomed through in small flocks. We saw more at Los Cusingos and the Rio Rincón bridge as well.


This Laughing Falcon had no qualms with letting us study it at close range. Photo by participant Karen Heffernan.

BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis) – We were treated by a great showing of these near the dining hall of Wilson Botanical Garden. Our superb scope views even showed the distinctive red ear patch.
BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus) – This is a small Pionus species that we encountered at Wilson Botanical Garden, La Union de Sabalito, and the Rio Rincón bridge. Although this is a fairly range-restricted species in Costa Rica, we were lucky to spend a lot of time in its limited range.
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – Another small Pionus, this parrot is more widespread than the previous species and we tallied it most of our days, especially at lower elevations.
RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis) – The only location that we saw these Amazons well was at the Rio Rincón bridge.
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – This Amazon is small, more like the size of the Pionus parrots! We had good looks at these around the Hotel Bougainvillea on both of our walks there at the start of the tour.
MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa) – Although similar to the Red-lored Parrot in many ways, this species lacks any red on the head. The Rio Rincón bridge provided us our only sightings.
BROWN-THROATED PARAKEET (VERAGUAS) (Eupsittula pertinax ocularis) – It took a little bit of searching but we eventually had great looks at this Coto 47 specialty. A recent invader from Panama, this isolated subspecies is different from the one found in South America.
SCARLET MACAW (Ara macao) – Sitting in traffic isn't so bad when you happen to find a nesting Scarlet Macaw! What luck! Earlier in the trip, we had nice looks at this majestic species flying over the Rio Rincón bridge area. This easily ranked as one of the favorites from the trip.
CRIMSON-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara finschi) – This is the most common parakeet on this tour and we tallied it nearly every day. Hundreds roost near the Hotel Bougainvillea and it wasn't uncommon to hear their high-pitched chattering from the grounds.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Southeast of San Isidro de El General, we stopped near the town of Volcán for some roadside birding. This Barred Antshrike came out of the thick veg for a brief show. Both sexes have rather impressive crests!
BLACK-HOODED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bridgesi) – Although we were able to hear this species on several of our days, pulling them out of the vegetation took some patience. We eventually caught sight of them near the Rio Rincón bridge though.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – The trails below the Wilson Botanical Garden proved to be reliable for this species; we saw them there on both of our mornings.
DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis) – Although never common, we caught a glimpse of this species once or twice including at Los Cusingos and again at Esquinas on our final morning. The females of this species are very distinctive with bright, rust-colored underparts.
CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Poliocrania exsul) – The shadows in the thick forest near the Rio Rincón bridge temporarily parted ways enough for us to get a glimpse of this dull-plumaged species, complete with bare skin around the eye.
BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys bicolor bicolor) – This species is strongly tied to ant-swarms and therefore difficult to find sometimes. Although we heard these distantly at Los Cusingos and Wilson Botanical Garden, they remained out of view. [*]


White-fronted Parrot is an uncommon species in much of the San Jose area but guide Tom Johnson photographed this one near the grounds of the Hotel Bougainvillea.

Grallariidae (Antpittas)
STREAK-CHESTED ANTPITTA (Hylopezus perspicillatus) – Although one of these was singing from the La Gamba/Golfito Road, it was on the other side of the river and thus, out of view. [*]
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – What a tease! We heard this ground-dwelling species multiple times, and sometimes quite close, but one never decided to cross the path! The trail below Wilson Botanical Garden was a good place to hear them. [*]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina) – Typically an interior-forest species, one of these broke the rules and actually showed up right outside of our room patios at Wilson Botanical Garden. Unfortunately, it didn't stick around for long.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – This was another woodcreeper we caught up to at Wilson Botanical Garden. The small size and tiny bill set this species apart from others. In fact, this is the shortest-billed woodcreeper!
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – A large and attractive woodcreeper, this species was found and seen very well near the Rio Rincón bridge.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Once we dropped out of the mountains and into the Pacific lowlands, this species became fairly common and we tallied it daily.
BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus) – As far as woodcreepers go, this has to be one of the more attractive ones! We managed to see this species on our last morning at Esquinas, right near the Caiman Pond.
SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius) – We found two of these along the Rio Java trail at Wilson Botanical Garden but they would end up being our only ones of the tour. This species is fond of traveling with mixed groups.
BROWN-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus pusillus) – One of these amazing woodcreepers was calling at close range but the flock seemed to push off before we got a look. Although we all got to hear it, I think only one or two people managed glimpses.


One of the most popular birds of the trip, and for good reason, was the vibrant Scarlet Macaws that we saw so well. They just need to work on their "singing". Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – The most commonly seen woodcreeper, this thin-billed species was tallied nearly every day of tour. The views from the patio at Wilson Botanical Garden were especially nice.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – This tiny, tree-creeping species was seen only a few times, first at Talari Mountain Lodge and then again a few days later at Wilson Botanical Garden. This is in the ovenbird family alongside woodcreepers, foliage-gleaners, and scythebills.
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (EXSERTUS) (Automolus ochrolaemus exsertus) – The trails below Wilson Botanical Garden yielded a few of these although they remained hidden much of the time. This is the Pacific subspecies and one to watch in case of future splits.
RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops) – We had just arrived at Wilson Botanical Garden when we found a few of these with a mixed flock overhead in the gardens.
SLATY SPINETAIL (Synallaxis brachyura) – Our only run-in with this species was at the roadside birding stop near the Rosy Thrush-Tanager. What a sharp bird!
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens) – A couple of these vocal, little ovenbirds were spotted at the Bran-colored Flycatcher/Chiriqui Yellowthroat wetland near Agua Buena. This was less than 2 miles from Panama.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Ornithion semiflavum) – It remained high in the canopy, but one of these Ornithion flycatchers called repeatedly along the trail at Los Cusingos. [*]
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – We heard this distinctive-sounding flycatcher at Talari Mountain Lodge but it stayed unspotted. [*]
MOUSE-COLORED TYRANNULET (NORTHERN) (Phaeomyias murina eremonoma) – This drab species is known from only a handful of locations in Costa Rica near the Panama border. We were lucky to have some local intel and, between showers, we hopped out and got awesome looks!
YELLOW TYRANNULET (Capsiempis flaveola) – We had nice views of this open-country flycatcher along the entrance road to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.


Although the Mouse-colored Tyrannulet isn't going to win any awards for stunning colors, it's still an interesting species that barely reaches Costa Rica from the south. We found this flycatcher, and guide Tom Johnson nicely photographed it, extremely close to the Panama border.

GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata) – High over our heads along the trails at Wilson Botanical Garden, one of these was spotted flycatching. This is an uncommon species of the Pacific slope and one we don't see every tour.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Very widespread, very vocal, and with a very impressive crest! We saw these flycatchers well at Talari Mountain Lodge, especially down by the river.
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – A common highland species, one of these round-headed flycatchers was seen on our first day at the quetzal spot.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – One of these subtley-patterned flycatchers was eating berries along the path at Wilson Botanical Garden. This species has the distinctive trait of flicking one wing, and then the other, upon landing.
PALTRY TYRANNULET (Zimmerius vilissimus) – A common and widespread species, this flycatcher might actually be a couple of yet-to-be-described species. We saw (and heard) them frequently at places like Wilson Botanical Garden.
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus) – Super tiny, this pygmy-tyrant gave us fits when we tried to see it. The Rio Java Trail at Wilson was a good spot for it though.
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – It kept us waiting until the last day of birding at Esquinas but we eventually caught up with this fascinating flycatcher while we were birding a side-trail.
SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) – Tricky to see, this denizen of thick tangles stayed hidden at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. [*]
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – A widespread and familiar species from the tropics, this yellow-and-black flycatcher was spied first at Los Cusingos.
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – It didn't stick around for long but one of these plainly-patterned flycatchers was found along the trail at Los Cusingos.


Nearly tailless, this Golden-crowned Spadebill came in to check us out along one of the trails we hiked at Los Cusingos. Photo by participant Kevin Heffernan.

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) – One of these popped into view as we birded the hillside above Talari Mountain Lodge.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus coronatus) – Nearly-tailless, these tiny flycatchers are fairly common in wet, lowland forests. Our hike at Los Cusingos yielded a few of these including a couple that actually came into view.
RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Terenotriccus erythrurus) – Distinctively-colored in rufous, this tiny flycatcher was foraging at middle and upper levels of the forest at Los Cusingos. It's an uncommon species though and that remained our only one on tour.
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus) – We spotted one of these during our last morning of birding at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. This species used to be called Sulphur-rumped Myiobius.
BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus) – Although this species is fairly common in the right habitat, it has a limited range within Costa Rica. We saw them twice; first at the La Union de Sabalito wet area and then again at the Chiriqui Yellowthroat marsh.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – An uncommon wintering species, this flycatcher (that's in the Contopus genus like pewees) was spotted three different days including at Wilson and Esquinas.
OCHRACEOUS PEWEE (Contopus ochraceus) – Wow, this was a nice surprise. We were walking up the hill at the quetzal-watching spot when we spotted this buffy flycatcher off to our left. This is a rare bird and a complete bonus for us to find!
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – Although we saw this empid most days, our best looks was of one at eye-level up the hill at Talari Mountain Lodge, near the tennis courts. Costa Rica is in the core wintering range for this flycatcher that breeds through northern North America.
WILLOW FLYCATCHER (Empidonax traillii) – This was a cool surprise! We were pulling out south of Ciudad Neily during a rainstorm when one of these uncommon wintering flycatchers magically appeared on the fence next to us. We hopped out and got looks and, more importantly, got to hear it. This isn't a species we see on this tour very often.
BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax atriceps) – It was on the first day, when we spent time in the highlands chasing after quetzals, that we found this upper-elevation empid species. This is a Chiriqui endemic; it's only found in Costa Rica and Panama.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – This water-loving species was seen well at Talari Mountain Lodge where they were fond of the boulders in the river.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – A fierce-looking flycatcher, this big-billed flycatcher is easy to hear but much harder to see. We first encountered it at Wilson Botanical Garden but went on to see several at the Rio Rincón bridge area.
RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra) – We heard the distinctive, mournful calls of this species twice: once at the Rio Rincón bridge and again at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. They remained out of view, however. [*]
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – A widespread tropical species with a melancholy call. We tracked down a couple of these at Talari Mountain Lodge as we birded along the river.


The Rio Rincón bridge area played host to a wealth of species but none rarer than the Yellow-billed Cotinga. This endangered species is confined to southern Costa Rica and adjacent Panama. Lucky for us, we connected with several including this male nicely photographed by Tom Johnson.

GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – A familiar breeding species through much of the eastern US, this big myiarchus was spotted at the Rio Rincón bridge and near Golfito. The loud "wheep!" call notes often give it away.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Abundant and widespread.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – It was strange that it took as long as it did but we eventually did find one of these big and loud flycatchers. We found it at La Unión de Sabalito, the spot near the Panama border. We could see the large bill size as well as the lack of rusty tones on the wings.
RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis) – This is a rare species in Costa Rica and not one very many visiting birders get to see. We found an active pair along the entrance to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge where we got to study the darker face, rusty edges to the wings, and got to hear the distinctive call notes.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Widespread and abundant.
GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis) – This flycatcher, which is in the same genus as the abundant Social Flycatcher, became more numerous as we dropped out of the highlands and into the lowlands around Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. The pale eye of this species gives it a different and distinctive facial expression.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – We only found this species once and that was at the Talari Mountain Lodge.
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – The Rio Rincón bridge is a good vantage point to see this species, one that often perches on the tip top of trees. We managed scope views of it before it dropped down and out of sight.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Widespread and abundant, this flycatcher was tallied every day of tour.
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) – There are a couple of known fields that often host this long-tailed, wintering species. Sure enough, we pulled over and found one sallying from a fencerow!


Mangrove Swallows became fairly common around the Rio Rincón bridge and we all enjoyed point-blank looks. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savana) – One flew over at Talari Mountain Lodge but we later caught up to more around Ciudad Neily and the entrance to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
TURQUOISE COTINGA (Cotinga ridgwayi) – Wow, it's hard to go wrong with a cotinga of this color! Not only did we find a nice male at Talari Mountain Lodge, but we found a 2nd one along the river later that day. We ended up finding a third at the Rio Rincón bridge as well.
RUFOUS PIHA (Lipaugus unirufus) – You might remember this plain, rufous bird perched at mid-height during our hike at Los Cusingos. It didn't stick around for long though!
YELLOW-BILLED COTINGA (Carpodectes antoniae) – Endangered, rare, and beautiful. This all-white cotinga was one of our main targets at the Rio Rincón bridge and we were not disappointed! This local species is restricted to Costa Rica and a tiny bit of Panama and is certainly one of the rarest species we saw on the tour.
Pipridae (Manakins)
WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera) – A couple of these were seen at Wilson Botanical Garden, our only location where we tallied them. The best views we had was of a female from the patio.
BLUE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Lepidothrix coronata) – On back-to-back days, we tallied this attractive little species at Los Cusingos and then Talari Mountain Lodge. Overall, however, this tour had a noticeable lack of male manakins.
ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus aurantiacus) – This species of manakin became quite a challenge to see! There were numerous sightings but they were usually quick and difficult. Our first was at Talari Mountain Lodge and then more were seen at Wilson Botanical Garden. Finally, on our last morning at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, a beautiful male came in and we all cleaned up with great looks!
RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis) – We tracked down a female along the road near the Rio Rincón bridge. She was fairly vocal though and we ended up getting great looks!
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor) – The lowlands at the Rio Rincón bridge and La Gamba/Golfito Road provided us a couple of sightings of this species. At the former, we even had this species perched alongside the following species for nice comparisons.


Part 1 of the Edges tours is a great one for seeing Riverside Wrens. We had multiple chances to catch up with this skulker and guide Cory Gregory photographed this one near the Rio Rincón bridge.

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Although common and fairly widespread, they tend to stay high and can be difficult to spot. We had nice looks at Los Cusingos, the Rio Rincón bridge, and the road between La Gamba and Golfito.
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor) – A male was singing out of view at Bosque del Tolomuco in the highlands but it never came closer! Therefore, it remained as heard only on Part 1. [*]
WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus) – Sweet looks! A male came in to inspect us at Talari Mountain Lodge. This was our only sighting of this species.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – The patio at Wilson Botanical Garden seemed to be one the most reliable places for this widespread, tropical species. We saw them there more than once!
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Although easy to hear, this species is notorious for being hard to see! We encountered them a few times including at the Sendero Los Quetzales on our first birding day and a few more at Wilson Botanical Garden.
GREEN SHRIKE-VIREO (Vireolanius pulchellus) – These were a bit of a surprise to see so well! We were hiking on the trails at Wilson Botanical Garden when a pair of these leaf-colored and leaf-shaped birds materialized right overhead!
TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET (Tunchiornis ochraceiceps) – Our views at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge on our final day were our best looks. This rather unassuming species ranges from Mexico south to Bolivia.
LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata) – A very uniformly-colored species in the vireo family, this drab songbird was tallied on many of our days. Typically, this species likes to stay high and so viewing can be a challenge.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – This species breeds in the southeastern US where they are common. In the winter, they spend time in mid-elevation forests of Central America. We found this species several times including at Los Cusingos, Talari Mountain Lodge, and Wilson Botanical Garden.
PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus) – We found this rather plainly-marked wintering species at scattered locations like the Hotel Bougainvillea, Talari Mountain Lodge, and the road between La Gamba and Golfito.


Our first day of birding took us to the highlands where we came face-to-face with a really fun bunch of highland specialties. Included was this Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

WARBLING VIREO (Vireo gilvus) – This is actually a rather rare species in Costa Rica! This drab vireo was spotted above Talari Mountain Lodge in a mixed flock.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – These big and noisy corvids were often seen around Talari Mountain Lodge, often in high, roving flocks.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – A common and widespread swallow in the mid-high elevations of Costa Rica. We tallied them daily until we dropped in elevation to the lowlands.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Although similar to the Northern Rough-winged Swallow, this species has a pale rump and a buffy-colored throat. These were fairly common in the Pacific lowlands towards the end of our tour.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – Especially common around the Rio Rincón bridge where we had great scope looks as they perched on the wires.
MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – It wasn't until we dropped out of the highlands that we saw these attractive swallows. The best show was at the Rio Rincón bridge where we got to watch them flying below us, showing their distinctive white rumps.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Not an abundant species here. We had our best luck in the flats of Coto 47/Las Pangas where a few of these were flying overhead.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
SCALY-BREASTED WREN (WHISTLING) (Microcerculus marginatus luscinia) – The only subspecies of Scaly-breasted Wren found in Central America is M. m. luscinia but there are two other subspecies farther south. We had an awesome showing from this species at the Rio Rincón bridge area when one actually came into view and sang!
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – A common and widespread species. These were tallied nearly every day of tour.
OCHRACEOUS WREN (Troglodytes ochraceus) – This vine-loving species was found in the highlands near the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge. It's also endemic to the Chiriqui highlands of Costa Rica/Panama.


Our tour enjoyed two species of silky-flycatchers and, although they don't look much alike, they both are interesting in their own ways. This Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher distracted us from lunch in the highlands. Photographed by guide Cory Gregory.

TIMBERLINE WREN (Thryorchilus browni) – The wind was howling up at the high elevations near Cerro de la Muerte on our first day but that didn't stop this local species from popping into view! This is a very range-restricted species, one that's only found on a few, high peaks in Costa Rica and Panama.
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) – Big, bold, and loud, these wrens were seen on our morning walk at the Hotel Bougainvillea on our first full day. However, this is the only region on Part 1 that has this species.
BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) – The full-bodied song of this wren is easy to hear but seeing this bird is a right task! A few folks saw this species poking around and making a nest at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – At the start of the tour, especially around Talari Mountain Lodge, this species of wren was actually quite common. We worked and worked at trying to get good looks at it and, eventually, I think it performed for everyone.
CABANIS'S WREN (Cantorchilus modestus) – We heard this loud songster across the street from the Hotel Bougainvillea on our first day and a few may have gotten quick glimpses. Until recently, these were lumped with a few other species and called Plain Wren.
ISTHMIAN WREN (Cantorchilus elutus) – This is another new species resulting from the Plain Wren split from a couple of years back. Geographically, this species is found in the southern portions of Costa Rica and we caught up to some hopping in a roadside bush in Coto 47.
RIVERSIDE WREN (Cantorchilus semibadius) – Limited to the Pacific slope of Costa Rica and Panama, this species has a fairly restricted range. This was another of the common wrens at Talari Mountain Lodge, Wilson Botanical Garden, and even in the lowlands around Esquinas. The undersides are heavily barred with black-and-white but it was tough to see that much detail as they scurried back in the shadows.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) – This tiny wren ranges from Mexico south to Peru and is found mostly in humid, lowland forests. We caught a few glimpses of one as it worked a streambed down below Wilson Botanical Garden. Glimpses were brief, however, of this hard-to-see species.


The Blue-gray Tanagers were a mainstay at many of our lodges but their subtle beauty was still a pleasure to be around. Photo by participant Kevin Heffernan.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – Only a few encounters but a couple of the ones circled around us several times. We saw some at Los Cusingos, Wilson Botanical Garden, and the Rio Rincón bridge.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea) – Our first sighting was along the river at Talari Mountain Lodge but we would go on to see more at Wilson Botanical Garden and the Rio Rincón bridge area.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BLACK-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus gracilirostris) – Stunning looks were had of this high-elevation nightingale-thrush right outside of the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge on our first day. Sometimes they're tough to see, sometimes they're tame! Of all the Catharus thrushes on the planet, this species has the most limited range.
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – Although known for being downright tricky to see, we all caught up with this species between glimpses at Talari Mountain Lodge and one that we scoped along the trail at Wilson Botanical Garden.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – A couple of these wintering thrushes were spotted at Bosque del Tolomuco at the start of our tour.
SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens) – An endemic of the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama, this big and dark thrush was spotted several times on our first full day at places like Paraiso Quetzal Lodge and the Cerro de la Muerte area.
MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus) – Typically, these are found at higher elevations than Clay-colored Thrushes. We saw this dark-billed species at Bosque del Tolomuco and Paraiso Quetzal Lodge before dropping in elevation and leaving the range for the rest of the tour.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – Common and widespread in a variety of habitats.
WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus assimilis) – It's always a bonus to see this species well but we did exactly that at Wilson Botanical Garden where one perched for our scopes for many minutes.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Now a fairly common and widespread species in many parts of Costa Rica, these were seen on more than half of our birding days.


Red-legged Honeycreepers are surely one of the most electric feeder visitors. This awesome photo was taken by participant Karen Heffernan.

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha) – This plump species is endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama. For us, the best looks were at Paraiso Quetzal Lodge during lunch on our first full day.
LONG-TAILED SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys caudatus) – As with the previous species, this silky-flycatcher was seen in the highlands on our first full day. This crested silky was seen well as we climbed up the trail towards the quetzal spot.
Rhodinocichlidae (Thrush-Tanager)
ROSY THRUSH-TANAGER (Rhodinocichla rosea) – Wow! Although it never popped into view, finding and hearing this secretive, rare, and little-known species in Costa Rica was a real treat! It's an interesting species too; this species is the only member in the Rhodinocichlidae family and its placement in taxonomy has long-confused ornithologists. [*]
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – Although it never came into view, we heard this wintering species at Bosque del Tolomuco chipping downslope from us. [*]
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – A fairly common wintering species in the lowlands of Costa Rica, a couple of these were spotted below us at the Rio Rincón bridge.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – On four straight days, we spotted this wintering species at spots like Los Cusingos, Talari Mountain Lodge, and Wilson Botanical Garden.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Seen at the same locations as the previous warbler, it wasn't uncommon to see one or two of these a day, creeping along branches and trunks like a nuthatch.
FLAME-THROATED WARBLER (Oreothlypis gutturalis) – This highland endemic is found only in Costa Rica and Panama. We had some brief glimpses at the Sendero Los Quetzales as it foraged through one of the taller trees in front of us.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – A common and widespread species, these were tallied almost every day in a variety of wooded habitats.
MASKED YELLOWTHROAT (CHIRIQUI) (Geothlypis aequinoctialis chiriquensis) – For now, this highland endemic subspecies belongs to the species known as Masked Yellowthroat. However, there has been a proposal to move this subspecies to a different parent species, the Olive-crowned Yellowthroat. We'll see what happens! Either way, we saw this unique bird fairly well as it approached us, always skulking, in the wetland near Agua Buena.


We had the great fortune of being in range of this stunning species, the Speckled Tanager. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia) – The scrub across the street from the Hotel Bougainvillea proved to be fairly reliable for these skulky, wintering warblers.
KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – It's not every day you get to see this shy, wintering species in Costa Rica! However, we had nice looks at one working through a shady forest floor below Wilson Botanical Garden.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Rather sparse on this tour, only one was seen at the Wilson Botanical Garden, along the driveway.
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – As with the previous species, we caught up with this compact little guy only once at Wilson Botanical Garden.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – Not an abundant warbler on tour, this migrant was spotted twice at Wilson Botanical Garden and often with mixed flocks.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – Fairly common and widespread on tour, this familiar beauty was tallied on most of our days.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – This was another familiar species that we saw on most of our days. A few of them even showed some chestnut-coloring on the flanks which was nice to see.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – We caught up to a couple of these wintering in the highlands around Sendero Los Quetzales and Bosque del Tolomuco on our first full day.
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – Although perhaps our best luck was at the Hotel Bougainvillea, we did see a few more of these at Wilson Botanical Garden as well as La Unión de Sabalito near the Panama border.
BLACK-CHEEKED WARBLER (Basileuterus melanogenys) – This highland endemic of Costa Rica and Panama was seen on our only high-elevation day, around Paraiso Quetzal Lodge.


We couldn't get over how deep the black coloring was on the Cherrie's Tanagers! This male was nicely captured by participant Karen Heffernan.

BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) – The loud and chanting song of this species was commonplace at Talari Mountain Lodge. This warbler loves to be low, sometimes on the paths, as it bobs its rear.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – Seen on two of our days, this familiar warbler winters in mid-upper elevation forests.
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – This widespread tropical species was finally found during our time at Wilson Botanical Garden. The ones in Costa Rica have yellow bellies, not red like the redstarts found farther north!
COLLARED REDSTART (Myioborus torquatus) – Endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama, this specialty species was only seen on our high-elevation day at Paraiso Quetzal Lodge and the nearby Sendero Los Quetzales. With a yellow face and a rufous cap, it's a cute little warbler too!
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – It was a nice surprise to have this species come out of the shadows for a visit to the fruit feeding station at Los Cusingos!
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus) – Our final morning of birding netted this species mixed with a feeding flock along the La Gamba/Golfito Road. The male is all black with a white shoulder patch.
CHERRIE'S TANAGER (Ramphocelus costaricensis) – A truly abundant species! We got to learn these flashy tanagers right off the bat and they remained common throughout our tour.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Rivaling the previous species for the "most widespread" award, these were abundant throughout the tour and they really enjoyed the various fruit feeders we visited.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – This was another common and widespread species although usually less numerous than the Blue-grays.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Ixothraupis guttata) – A glorious, green and yellow tanager completely covered with black speckles. A few of these would eat fruit at the Talari Mountain Lodge feeders much to our delight!
GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Tangara larvata) – Quite common but still very attractive! Our first taste came from the Bosque del Tolomuco feeders where they competed with a variety of other tanagers for fruit. In the end, these were seen nearly every day of tour.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – A widespread and common tanager from Costa Rica south through much of South America. These were seen most days including some really nice views at the Los Cusingos feeders.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala) – A common mid-elevation tanager, these were abundant at locations like Bosque del Tolomuco but numbers petered out once we dropped to the Pacific lowlands.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – Los Cusingos and the Golfito area are the only two spots that we encountered this stunning, lowland species. Although attractive, they often like to stay high in the forest.


Another of the many characters that would appear at fruit throughout the tour were the Green Honeycreepers. This nice photo of a male was taken by participant Karen Heffernan.

SHINING HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes lucidus) – The pale legs of this honeycreeper gave it away when we found it mixed with a feeding flock along the La Gamba/Golfito Road on our final morning. Surprisingly-scarce this time around, this was our only sighting of the trip.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – What a gorgeous species! And to have it at the feeders at Talari just mere feet from our faces... goodness.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – We had nice studies of this tropical species at the fruit feeders throughout the tour including at Los Cusingos, Talari Mountain Lodge, and Wilson Botanical Garden.
SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea) – This is another endemic of the highlands shared between Costa Rica and Panama. We only encountered it on one day, the day we visited Sendero Los Quetzales and Paraiso Quetzal Lodge for lunch.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – A fairly common grassquit in grassy and weedy habitats. We found quite a few near the rice fields south of Ciudad Neily once we dropped out of the mountains.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea) – The grassy and weedy fields of the Pacific lowlands hosted this species a couple of times including five along the entrance road to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina) – This was by far the most numerous seedeater in the south. In fact, we tallied them nearly every day of tour.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila torqueola) – Generally uncommon on this tour, a few were seen along the road edges in Coto 47 south of Ciudad Neily. This is the same species that ranges north and barely reaches Texas.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Widespread and ubiquitous at flowers throughout the tour.
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – This species really seemed to enjoy the hummingbird garden at Wilson Botanical Garden; they were seen there every time we stopped by!


The Golden-hooded Tanagers put on a great show for us at various lodges and participant Kevin Heffernan managed this superb photo of one.

BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – Our most commonly-seen saltator of tour, these would often show themselves at feeders such as the ones on the patio of Wilson Botanical Garden.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Our only sighting of this species was at the Hotel Bougainvillea when we walked across the street on the first evening.
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – We had a good streak with this species at Talari Mountain Lodge and Wilson Botanical Garden where they would attend the fruit feeders. Saltators were long thought to belong in the Cardinal/Grosbeak family but recent DNA work confirms that they are large-billed tanagers.
Passerellidae (New World Buntings and Sparrows)
SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus) – This is a highland specialty that's only found in Costa Rica and Panama. We had loads of them but only on one day, the day we visited Sendero Los Quetzales, Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, and the communication towers at Cerro de la Muerte.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus) – This species used to be called Common Bush-Tanager and it is the lower-elevation counterpart of the previous species. We encountered a couple of these at Wilson Botanical Garden.


Volcano Juncos reside at the highest reaches of the country and are therefore a very range-restricted species. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris) – A close relative of the Olive Sparrow that reaches Texas. These subtle but handsome sparrows were common on the grounds at Wilson Botanical Garden.
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) – It wasn't until our final day at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge that most people got to see this skulker. Despite the bright orange bill, this sparrow really hides well in the shaded forests!
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Arremon brunneinucha) – A couple of these put on a great show at Bosque del Tolomuco! The throat of this brushfinch is always the most startling of whites!
VOLCANO JUNCO (Junco vulcani) – One of the most range-restricted species we saw, this highland specialty is only found on a few high peaks of Costa Rica and Panama. Luckily for us, we found them straight away at the Cerro de la Muerte paramo zone and enjoyed point-blank looks!
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – Abundant at mid- to upper-elevations such as at the Hotel Bougainvillea and Paraiso Quetzal Lodge.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (Zonotrichia leucophrys) – By far the rarest species we saw in Costa Rica, at least by Costa Rican standards, was a sparrow that most of us know quite well! This stunning turn of events was a real joy to be part of. We saw this sparrow, the first record of its kind in Costa Rica, inland from the Rio Rincón bridge at a small place called Rancho Quemada.


It wasn't high on our list of expected birds to see but hey, you just never know. This long-staying White-crowned Sparrow was actually the first record ever for Costa Rica! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

LARGE-FOOTED FINCH (Pezopetes capitalis) – We had crushing looks at one of these foraging around on the ground just outside of the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge before lunch.
CABANIS'S GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone cabanisi) – Until recently, there was a species around the Hotel Bougainvillea called the "Provost's Ground-Sparrow". Very recently, that species was split into two species: the White-faced Ground-Sparrow which is found in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, and the Cabanis's Ground-Sparrow which is endemic to central Costa Rica. We attempted to find the latter and succeeded in hearing it but this secretive endemic stayed out of view. [E*]
YELLOW-THIGHED FINCH (Pselliophorus tibialis) – We found this highland endemic at a couple of places around Paraiso Quetzal on our first full birding day. The yellow tufts, in contrast to the black plumage, are quite vivid!
WHITE-NAPED BRUSHFINCH (YELLOW-THROATED) (Atlapetes albinucha gutturalis) – A pair at Bosque del Tolomuco was quite a surprise! These are attractive birds with black heads, vivid yellow throats, and a white stripe down the midcrown.
Zeledoniidae (Wrenthrush)
WRENTHRUSH (Zeledonia coronata) – Success! It took a little time but we were eventually rewarded with good looks at this skulker just outside of the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge before lunch. This species, that also used to go by the name Zeledonia, is found only in the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama.


Our tour enjoyed seeing several wintering species that are familiar back in the US. Here is a Summer Tanager that has chosen to winter in Costa Rica. Photo by participant Kevin Heffernan.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – Very common and widespread throughout tour.
FLAME-COLORED TANAGER (Piranga bidentata) – A highland species, and a real eyeful, these were seen well at the Bosque del Tolomuco feeders. Turns out, that would be our only sighting for Part 1.
RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER (Habia rubica) – A pair at Wilson Botanical Garden were our only ones of the trip. They were heard by everyone but not everyone got looks.
BLACK-CHEEKED ANT-TANAGER (Habia atrimaxillaris) – Costa Rica only has a handful of mainland endemic bird species but this beauty is one of them! This very range-restricted species is only found in the Pacific lowlands of southern Costa Rica. We heard them several times at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge but it wasn't until we were birding along the La Gamba/Golfito Road that we got some glimpses. We watched as a pair made their way, very secretively, through the dense forest near the road. [E]
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – This familiar species turned out to be fairly widespread on tour and we tallied it most of our days.
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanoloxia cyanoides) – Part I yielded several sightings of this large-billed species, first along the trails at Wilson Botanical Garden, and then again at the Rio Rincón bridge and Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Unlike other grosbeaks, this one can be a real pain to see!
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – The fields south of Ciudad Neily produced a couple of these songsters. Although, yes, this is the same species we have back in the States, the ones in Costa Rica do sound a bit different!


Another wintering species we bumped into from time to time was the colorful Baltimore Oriole. Photo by participant Karen Heffernan.

RED-BREASTED MEADOWLARK (Sturnella militaris) – Although this striking meadowlark was first spotted south of Ciudad Neily, these were found again along the entrance fields at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. In some ways, it's strange seeing a meadowlark with no yellow on it!
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus) – This is still a rather local species in Costa Rica but Wilson Botanical Garden is a good spot to see them. We caught up to some there, in the gardens, where we had nice scope views. Its crest, however, was a little less than impressive!
SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (SCARLET-RUMPED) (Cacicus uropygialis microrhynchus) – This is a striking bird that's all black save for a bright red rump, a pale yellow bill, and a bluish eye. We had fairly nice looks from the Rio Rincón bridge of a couple that were collecting nesting material.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – A common and widespread wintering species.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – The fruit packing plant in Ciudad Neily often attracts a variety of blackbirds and this time we found five or so Shiny Cowbirds feeding near the loading docks.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – We had a few sightings of this red-eyed, thick-necked species but the biggest flock was in Ciudad Neily alongside the previous species.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – Red-eyed and a monster of a cowbird! We scoped one in a tree top south of Ciudad Neily just before the rain hit.
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – This is an abundant species near the Hotel Bougainvillea and we saw several there before leaving on tour.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Abundant and tallied every day of tour.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia callophrys) – We were sitting down to eat lunch at the Paraiso Quetzal Lodge in the highlands when one of these vibrant chloro-bombs was seen downslope! This uncommon species is only found in the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama.
YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla) – Fairly local for us on this tour, our only sighting was of a couple at Talari Mountain Lodge, calling from high above us in a treetop.
THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris) – This was one of the common euphonias that visited the feeders at Wilson Botanical Garden. It was the species with a yellow throat that reached all the way up to the chin.
SPOT-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia imitans) – A common attendee at the fruit feeders at Wilson Botanical Garden and elsewhere in the Pacific lowlands. Unlike the previous species, this euphonia has a completely dark throat. Geographically-speaking, this is a fairly limited species and it's only found in southern Costa Rica and extreme western Panama.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – The high-pitched, mournful call notes of this species gave it away in the hummingbird gardens at Wilson Botanical Garden. In fact, we tallied this species each of the days we were there.
YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus) – This was a bonus! We spotted one or two of these local finches while looking for quetzals in the highlands on our first full day.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Seen occasionally in urban areas. [I]


This Spot-crowned Euphonia put on a great show at the Rio Rincón bridge towards the end of the tour. Photo by guide Cory Gregory.


MAMMALS
GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata) – Would you like a bat along with your drink? A few of these would roost on the wall by the bar at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata) – We didn't see any of these on Part I but we certainly heard them! [*]
WHITE-THROATED CAPUCHIN (Cebus capucinus) – It's always amusing to watch a troop of these scurrying about! A few of these were near the Rio Rincón bridge parking area.
VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides) – Fairly common in the highlands, these multi-colored squirrels were seen at Bosque del Tolomuco and Talari Mountain Lodge.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – This uniformly-colored squirrel was our most commonly-seen squirrel of the trip.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – Fairly common and widespread, these were seen on the majority of our days. Wilson Botanical Garden had especially healthy numbers of them.
NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor) – After dark, at Talari Mountain Lodge, a few of these were found high up in a palm near the driveway. And yep, this is the same species we have farther north.
KINKAJOU (Potos flavus) – Woah, our top mammal prize probably goes to this fascinating creature we found lounging high in a palm at Talari Mountain Lodge one night! This relative of the raccoon eats primarily fruit and is found from Mexico south through much of South America.


Sometimes fascinating creatures show up on your walk back from dinner! This Kinkajou sat in a palm and chomped down while we looked up in awe. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Herps
GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) – There was no shortage of these towards the end of our trip once we dropped into the Pacific lowlands.
COMMON BASILISK (Basiliscus basiliscus) – This species, known for its ability to run across the surface of water, was often seen lounging around at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
TROPICAL HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mabouia) – A common sound in the tropics! This was one of a few species we actually heard WHILE doing the checklist sessions.
AMERICAN CROCODILE (Crocodylus acutus) – We stopped at the Rio Tárcoles on our final day where we looked down on these giants loafing in the river! They were not small!
SPECTACLED CAIMAN (Caiman crocodilus) – Esquinas Rainforest Lodge often had one or two of these in the Caiman Pond, easily viewable at night with a flashlight.
SOUTH AMERICAN SNAPPING TURTLE (Chelydra acutirostris) – Most of the snapping turtles that have been identified to date in Costa Rica appear to be this species. We saw one of these in a pond at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge towards the end of tour.


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS


Totals for the tour: 356 bird taxa and 8 mammal taxa