A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Costa Rica: Birding the Edges Part I, the Deep South 2023

January 21-30, 2023 with Tom Johnson & Vernon Campos guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Fiery-billed Aracaris showed off for us at multiple sites on our adventure in southern Costa Rica. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

It was great to return to Costa Rica to lead this pair of "Birding the Edges" tours in 2023. These two tours complement each other, with Part One (detailed below) focusing on the southern reaches of the country and Part Two examining the north. On Part One, after leaving our home base in the Central Valley at Hotel Bougainvillea, we made an efficient loop of the South and stayed at three lodges to maximize the diversity of the route.

Following some introductory birding around the Hotel Bougainvillea, we climbed out of the Central Valley onto Cerro de la Muerte, stopping on side tracks and the excellent Paraiso Quetzal Lodge for doses of excellent highland birding. Resplendent Quetzals were around but showed poorly; far better on this visit were the Golden-browed Chlorophonias, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers, and hummingbirds including close-up White-throated Mountain-Gem and Talamanca, Fiery-throated, and Volcano hummers. The higher montane forest was good for Yellow-winged Vireo, Peg-billed Finch, and a surprisingly high elevation Hook-billed Kite.

In the middle elevations of the humid Pacific Slope, we stayed at the rustic Talari Mountain Lodge. We birded the lodge grounds as well as the nearby river corridor and Los Cusingos, the estate of Alexander Skutch. In this area we found Turquoise Cotinga, Scaled Pigeon, Olivaceous Piculet, Red-capped Manakin, Tropical Screech-Owl, Double-toothed Kite, and clouds of swifts overhead.

Moving to the steamy coastal lowlands, we set up at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge for three nights. The birding here was split between the forest and the surrounding fields and marshes, including some of the highest diversity outings of the whole trip. Sampling the forest and scrubby field habitat near the lodge helped us find White-crested Coquette, Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, Bicolored Antbird, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Scrub Greenlet, Royal Flycatcher, and more. Fields and marshes south of Ciudad Neily added clouds of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, flocks of shorebirds, and scarce border specialties like Savanna Hawk, Veraguan Mango, and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird. An early morning departure took us to the Rincón Bridge at the base of the Osa Peninsula where we found Yellow-billed Cotingas, Scarlet Macaws, Red-rumped Woodpecker, White-necked Puffbird, Mangrove Hummingbird, and many other birds - in fact, over 100 species in a single morning!

Our final lodge stay on Part I was the comfortable Wilson Botanical Garden near San Vito, an OTS field station that is a great lodge for our visits. Time on the trails and the surrounding hills led us to find another White-crested Coquette, Great Tinamous, Black Hawk-Eagle, White-winged Tanager, and a bizarre hybrid Blue-winged x Green-winged Teal on a small lake.

Finally, we closed our Southern Costa Rica loop, climbed back over Cerro de la Muerte, and cruised back to the Hotel Bougainvillea. We had enough time to make some good birding stops on the way including a set of hummingbird feeders that attracted White-tailed Emerald and Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, among others. Before long, we were back to our starting point—some of us headed back home while others stayed on for Part Two in the North.

A few thank yous:

Vernon Campos was an excellent guide (and long-time friend) who spotted many fantastic birds and share loads of Costa Rican culture and history with us. And of course, Johnny Happer did an admirable job of piloting our Coaster Bus over the mountains and around the many curves of Costa Rica's roads.

Also, many thanks to Barbara Williams for sharing her knowledge and interest in bats and for compiling the bat detector data for us at tour's end.

Pura vida and good birding!


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)

GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major)

We heard these on many occasions but it was fantastic to actually see two birds walking ahead of us on the trail at Wilson Botanical Garden.

LITTLE TINAMOU (Crypturellus soui) [*]

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

About 2000 were at Las Pangas near Coto 47.

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)

Two flew in and landed in the wet fields near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

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On our brief swing through the highlands of Cerro de la Muerte, we met this fancy Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher. Photo by group member Barbara Williams.

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

Three were mixed in with Blue-winged Teal and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at Las Pangas.

BLUE-WINGED X GREEN-WINGED TEAL (HYBRID) (Spatula discors x Anas crecca)

Wow - this little stunner was a continuing rarity on a small forested lake near Wilson Botanical Garden. Its odd Baikal Teal-esque bridle was not typical of either presumed parental species.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps)

CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens)

Honking and feeding on palm fruit at Wilson Botanical Garden and other sites.


These giants were found walking around the grounds of Esquinas Rainforest Lodge on a few occasions.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus)

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa)

One perched up and then fed in a fruiting tree above the rooms at Talari Mountain Lodge.

RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris)

Common in the Central Valley.

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)

Ours were in the vicinity of Paraiso Quetzal in the highlands.

SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris)

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)


Good views of these small (and indeed, plain) doves at Playa Colibri.

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We had to find just the right angle to be able to see this stunning Red-capped Manakin at Los Cusingos. Photo by group member Paul Demkovich.

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

BLUE GROUND DOVE (Claravis pretiosa)

We eventually tracked down a singing bird for scope views near Esquinas.

RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE (Geotrygon montana)

Brief views at Los Cusingos followed by several that we heard in the lowlands.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassinii)

Just a few on the grounds of Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)

STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia)

The singing bird at Esquinas was interesting to watch as it flared its crest up and down.

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis)

We arrived at the Rio Rincón early enough to see several bounding around over the forest and river.

SHORT-TAILED NIGHTHAWK (Lurocalis semitorquatus)

One was seen in flight by a few folks from the pool (!) at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge around dusk.

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

COMMON POTOO (Nyctibius griseus)

We spotlighted a couple of these bizarre nightbirds during our night drive from Esquinas.

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHESTNUT-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne rutila)

A few over the Santa Elena feeders with White-collareds.

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

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Yellow-billed Cotinga was one of the rarest species we found on the tour. This male was one of six that we saw from our dawn watch at the famous Rincón Bridge. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

COSTA RICAN SWIFT (Chaetura fumosa)

We studied a few carefully in the lowlands in order to see that pale rump band.

VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi)

Mostly in middle elevations; the birds circulating around a traditional roost tree at Wilson Botanical Garden gave good views in the evenings.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora)

BRONZY HERMIT (Glaucis aeneus)

We saw a nesting bird resting in a hanging sock nest in the southern lowlands.

BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri)

This odd hermit is found reliably in the lowlands near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge; we saw a few here, including one at night!

GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy)

LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris)

STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis)

LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus)

PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti)

VERAGUAN MANGO (Anthracothorax veraguensis)

Nice sightings of a male and female on the Papayera Road near Ciudad Neily. These are recent arrivals from Panama.

WHITE-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis adorabilis)

We found two of these tiny hummers: one at Wilson Botanical Garden and the other at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. They buzzed around canopy flowers like feathered bees and eventually gave us some nice views.


TALAMANCA HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes spectabilis)

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Fancy tanagers that we encountered on the tour included Golden-hooded and Speckled, seen here at the feeders at Wilson Botanical Garden. Photo by group member Paul Demkovich.


Fabulous views up close at the Paraiso Quetzal feeders.

WHITE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis castaneoventris)

A male and female attended the feeders at Paraiso Quetzal.

VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula)

Very common around the gardens at Paraiso Quetzal.

VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus)

CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica)

WHITE-TAILED EMERALD (Microchera chionura)

It took some waiting but we managed some time with one of these little hummers at the feeders at Mirador Valle del General.





MANGROVE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia boucardi)

Eventually we tracked down a showy bird at Playa Colibri.

SAPPHIRE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Chrysuronia coeruleogularis)

We saw three individuals in the same stretch of viney roadside brush that hosted the Veraguan Mangos near Ciudad Neily.



A singing bird at Los Cusingos plus others at field edges near Ciudad Neily.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus)

Perhaps most memorable was the loud, haunting dusk chorus near our rooms at Talari Mountain Lodge.

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Six at Las Pangas with a multitude of other waterbirds.

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A Lineated Woodpecker availed itself of some bananas at the Santa Elena feeders. Photo by group member Barbara Williams.

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (Laterallus albigularis)

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

A huge wintering flock at Las Pangas - around 350 birds.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

WILLET (Tringa semipalmata)

On the beach at Playa Colibri.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

Ciconiidae (Storks)

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

Common in wetlands around Golfito and Coto 47.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum)

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

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This Mottled Owl adopted a convenient day roost at the beginning of our tour in the Central Valley. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa)

One of these massive vultures soared over the hill forest along the La Gamba-Golfito Road.

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)

One was perched over the Papayera Road near Ciudad Neily, allowing for great scope views of its colorful head pattern.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

PEARL KITE (Gampsonyx swainsonii)

Vernon spotted a nest along the Pan-American Highway as we drove by. We circled around and came back for some good scope views.

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

HOOK-BILLED KITE (Chondrohierax uncinatus)

Wow! What a surprising bird to see in the mountains at 2800 meters elevation. It was good to have photos of this one to be able to confirm the ID.

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus)

BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus)

Best views were of the soaring, whistling bird at Los Cusingos, but we did see another distant one at Wilson BG.

DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus)

One soared over and flared its undertail coverts at Los Cusingos.

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Dawn on the Rio Rincón at the base of the Osa Peninsula. During our morning there, we recorded about 100 species of birds! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (MANGROVE) (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis)

SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis)

We saw these recent arrivals from Panama at Coto 47 and Ciudad Neily.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

GRAY-LINED HAWK (Buteo nitidus)

One perched and flew around a nesting territory at Coto 47.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

RED-TAILED HAWK (COSTARICENSIS) (Buteo jamaicensis costaricensis)

Strigidae (Owls)

TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba)

We heard a few individuals and some folks got views of the one at Talari Mountain Lodge.

SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata)

Heard in the early mornings at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum)

A pair watched us carefully one morning at Hotel Bougainvillea.

MOTTLED OWL (Strix virgata)

Two were on day roosts in the back garden at Hotel Bougainvillea.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (Pharomachrus mocinno)

We heard one on Cerro de la Muerte, and later some folks saw one fly across the valley at Paraiso Quetzal.

SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena)

BAIRD'S TROGON (Trogon bairdii)

A male and female put on a show at Los Cusingos.

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Great Curassows walked around the beautiful grounds of the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. These massive birds are difficult to see in many places in the tropics because they are hunted; the lack of hunting in Costa Rica makes them quite easy to see here! Photo by group member Paul Demkovich.

GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus)


Momotidae (Motmots)

LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii lessonii)

These jewel-crowned motmots were seen repeatedly (and up close) - fantastic birds.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)

WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus)

One perched up on a treetop at the Rio Rincón.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

FIERY-BILLED ARACARI (Pteroglossus frantzii)

This iconic small toucan showed off repeatedly in the southern lowlands and middle elevations. Great views on the banana feeders at Wilson BG.

YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii)

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus)

One carried food to a nest hole at Los Cusingos.

GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysauchen)

RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus)

HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii)

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On one of our drives through the town of San Vito, we passed a parade of traditional ox carts. Photo by group member Barbara Williams.

HAIRY WOODPECKER (COSTA RICAN) (Dryobates villosus extimus)

SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Dryobates fumigatus)

One of these little guys was at Talari Mountain Lodge.

RED-RUMPED WOODPECKER (Dryobates kirkii)

We scoped one at the Rincón Bridge; a small, relatively inconspicuous woodpecker.

PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis)

One loped past us and perched up at the Rio Rincón. A relative of the Ivorybill!

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

It was amazing to see this big woodpecker up close on the fruit feeders at Santa Elena.

GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus)

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis)

One called insistently in the predawn at Wilson Botanical Garden but we were unable to spot it on this visit.

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Daptrius chimachima)

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis)

Dan saw one carrying prey in flight on one of our drives; we also saw a vocal pair flying over at Wilson Botanical Garden.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

One cruised by at Talari Mountain Lodge.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis)

BLUE-HEADED PARROT (Pionus menstruus)

All of ours were at Wilson Botanical Garden.


Repeated good views including some perched birds at Talari and Wilson.

RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis)

Quite common in the morning roost exodus flight at the Rincón Bridge.

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The very birdy lowland fields near Ciudad Neily produced this remarkable combination of three species of cowbird in one tree. From left, Giant, Shiny, Shiny, and Bronzed cowbirds. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons)

Seven were a nice treat at Hotel Bougainvillea.

MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa)

Less common than the Red-lored Parrots but still conspicuous at the Rincón Bridge.


Superb! We first saw these huge parrots landing in a treetop at Esquinas; later, they flew right past us at the Rincón Bridge.


Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

BLACK-HOODED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bridgesi)

Good views at Los Cusingos, Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, La Gamba-Golfito Road, and the Rio Rincón.

RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (Thamnistes anabatinus)

One was dead-leafing with a mixed flock at Wilson Botanical Garden.

SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor)

A vocal bird stayed out of sight at Wilson BG.

DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis)

One was with a mixed flock at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

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This female Veraguan Mango fed close in front of us near Ciudad Neily. The species occurs in just a tiny sliver of southern Costa Rica (in addition to adjacent Panama where it is more common). Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

DUSKY ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides tyrannina)

Heard at Esquinas.


Most of us were able to piece together views of the vocal birds along the driveway at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys bicolor bicolor)

A few birds attended a busy army ant swarm along the side of the La Gamba-Golfito Road.

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)

SILVERY-FRONTED TAPACULO (Scytalopus argentifrons)

Heard singing along a side road on Cerro de la Muerte.

Formicariidae (Antthrushes)

BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis)

We heard these forest floor-dwellers at Los Cusingos and Esquinas.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina)

Best views were of the bird that was attending the army ant swarm between La Gamba and Golfito.

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)

Seen at Los Cusingos and the Rio Rincón.

BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus)

Fantastic views of this handsome woodcreeper on the road between La Gamba and Golfito.

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We saw the massive Yellow-throated Toucan regularly, and they even posed for us on a few occasions. Photo by group member Barbara Williams.

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii)

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

One at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.


One interrupted our lunch at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens)

At Esquinas and the Ciudad Neily area.

Pipridae (Manakins)

WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera)

One was seen by some on the forest trails at Wilson Botanical Garden.

VELVETY MANAKIN (Lepidothrix velutina)

Just a few brief sightings at Los Cusingos and Wilson BG.

ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus aurantiacus)

These beauties were at Los Cusingos, Talari, and Esquinas.

RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis)

A few in a fruiting tree gave us our best views between La Gamba and Golfito.

Cotingidae (Cotingas)

TURQUOISE COTINGA (Cotinga ridgwayi)

A male was in a distant treetop near the police station in San Isidro, but we had better views of two birds later at the Rio Rincón.

RUFOUS PIHA (Lipaugus unirufus)

YELLOW-BILLED COTINGA (Carpodectes antoniae)

Six of these fine, endangered cotingas were flying back and forth across the Rio Rincón and perching in treetops during our morning watch.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor)

One was perched in a treetop at the Rio Rincón bridge.

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata)

We saw one each morning during our stay at Talari Mountain Lodge.

WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus)

Good views of a singing bird along the entrance road to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

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Silver-throated Tanager was one of several colorful songbirds that attended the feeders at Wilson Botanical Garden. Photo by group member Paul Demkovich.

ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae)

One was with a mixed flock at Wilson Botanical Garden.

Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)

ROYAL FLYCATCHER (NORTHERN) (Onychorhynchus coronatus mexicanus)

Two skulked along the driveway at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Terenotriccus erythrurus)

This tiny flycatcher hung out near an army ant swarm on the road between La Gamba and Golfito.

SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus)

Also seen near the army ant swarm (near the Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher).

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus)

This was the wing-flipper that popped up a few times along the driveway at Talari.

SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus)

One teased us a few times at Wilson BG but we eventually had some good views.

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens)

One was in the viney subcanopy near the parking spot at Los Cusingos.

YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Ornithion semiflavum)

This little guy stayed wayyyy up in the canopy at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.


YELLOW TYRANNULET (Capsiempis flaveola)


One gave a great show near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata)

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii)

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This miniscule Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher was one of several species attracted to a raiding party of army ants near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.


BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus)

Two of these localized flycatchers were along the edge of a marshy pasture near the Panama border.


A wintering bird was perched up on a snag along the La Gamba-Golfito Road.

YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris)

BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax atriceps)

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus)

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)


GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis)

We enjoyed close views of a vocal bird along the road in to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. This is another species that has just inched its way into Costa Rica in recent years.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis)

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

We saw this species twice at Talari Mountain Lodge and enjoyed its unusual dusk song one evening, too.

PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius)

Field Guides Birding Tours
This unassuming Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet was a nice highlight of a very birdy outing in the wet fields near the entrance to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)


Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

SCRUB GREENLET (Hylophilus flavipes)

One of these plucky vireos gave us a close show near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata)

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons)

YELLOW-WINGED VIREO (Vireo carmioli)

Super views of this Chiriqui endemic vireo near the communications towers atop Cerro de la Muerte.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio)

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Bicolored Antbirds showed off around the army ant swarm near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Away from ants, they typically don't sit out in the open like this! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea)

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus)

TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea)

Now called "White-browed Gnatcatcher." Ours was at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

TIMBERLINE WREN (Thryorchilus browni)

It took a bit of patience but we eventually managed some looks at these little gnomes in the highlands of Cerro de la Muerte.

RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha)

A few pairs of these Pacific-slope immigrants were singing loudly around the Hotel Bougainvillea.

BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris)

Heard at Esquinas, but it stayed well-hidden.

RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus)

CABANIS'S WREN (Cantorchilus modestus)

We heard this member of the Plain Wren complex at Hotel Bougainvillea a few times.

ISTHMIAN WREN (Cantorchilus elutus)

Super views of this Pacific-side version of Plain Wren in the area around La Gamba and Ciudad Neily.

RIVERSIDE WREN (Cantorchilus semibadius)

Perhaps the best encounter with this bar-bellied wren was at the army ant swarm near La Gamba.

WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta)

Finally seen well along the road at Finca Cantaros while looking for brushfinches.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)



MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus)

WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus assimilis)

One was tough to see in the canopy at Wilson Botanical Garden.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Volcano Hummingbirds were downright common in the highland gardens at Paraiso Quetzal. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.


SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens)

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

One perched up in a fruiting tree at the Rio Rincón. This irruptive species made a strong push into Central America this winter.

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha)

About 4 individuals showed off along a side road on Cerro de la Muerte.


Most of ours were in the gardens of Paraiso Quetzal Lodge.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia callophrys)

Close views of these colorful, chunky songbirds down low in the gardens at Paraiso Quetzal. Fantastic!

YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla)

THICK-BILLED EUPHONIA (Euphonia laniirostris)

SPOT-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia imitans)

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus)

COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus)

BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris)

ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris)


Field Guides Birding Tours
We found several color varieties of the Variegated Squirrel during the tour. Photo by group member Barbara Williams.

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

LARGE-FOOTED FINCH (Pezopetes capitalis)

Common on the grounds of Paraiso Quetzal Lodge, where a few interrupted our lunch and others kicked around the edges of the gardens.

CABANIS'S GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone cabanisi) [E]

Good sightings of one furtive bird on our first morning out of the Hotel Bougainvillea.

WHITE-NAPED BRUSHFINCH (YELLOW-THROATED) (Atlapetes albinucha gutturalis)

One came in to the feeders at Mirador Valle del General on our final day.


These attractive brushfinches (formerly called Yellow-thighed Finch) showed off their pom-pom legs in the forest edge at Paraiso Quetzal.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)


Close views in the open fields at Las Pangas.

CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)

The best sightings were of flying birds passing over at Wilson Botanical Garden.

SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (SCARLET-RUMPED) (Cacicus uropygialis microrhynchus)

More sightings than normal; they were conspicuous in the forest on this visit to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius)

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula)

Field Guides Birding Tours
In Costa Rica, the Plain Wren complex currently includes three species: Canebrake, Cabanis's, and Isthmian wrens. This Isthmian Wren sang boldly in the open near the hamlet of La Gamba one afternoon. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)

It was great to compare these slim cowbirds to many Bronzed and a flock of Giant cowbirds along the Papayera Road near Ciudad Neily.

BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus)

Big flocks near Ciudad Neily.

GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

A flock of 18 towered over the other two cowbird species at Ciudad Neily.


GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera)

In mixed flocks at Wilson Botanical Garden; also one at Los Cusingos.


Field Guides Birding Tours
Talamanca Hummingbird (formerly Magnificent Hummingbird) was one of the highlight species at Paraiso Quetzal Lodge during our lunchtime stop there. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina)

MOURNING WARBLER (Geothlypis philadelphia)

Chipping along the driveway at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi)

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica)


CHESTNUT-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus delattrii)

Formerly part of "Rufous-capped Warbler;" seen in the fenceline along the road at Finca Cantaros.

BLACK-CHEEKED WARBLER (Basileuterus melanogenys)

Two emerged from the fog in the highlands of Cerro de la Muerte.

BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda)

Along the shaded fenceline at Finca Cantaros.

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla)

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra)

WHITE-WINGED TANAGER (Piranga leucoptera)

A brilliant male was seen in the treetops from the dining room at Wilson Botanical Garden - wow!

BLACK-CHEEKED ANT-TANAGER (Habia atrimaxillaris) [E]

This range-restricted species was heard each morning at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge; with some fortune, we had good views along the La Gamba-Golfito Road associated with an ant swarm.

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

A male was in the fields near Hotel Bougainvillea.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata)


SCARLET-RUMPED TANAGER (CHERRIE'S) (Ramphocelus passerinii costaricensis)

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

SPECKLED TANAGER (Ixothraupis guttata)

Two of these exquisite tanagers attended the banana feeders at Wilson BG.

GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Stilpnia larvata)

BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola)

Field Guides Birding Tours
A peek under a folded palm frond led us to these beautiful little Common Tent-making Bats near Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala)


Two sightings - first, we had brief looks at two atop a flowering tree near Ciudad Neily; later, a close male popped up in the treetops near our rooms at Wilson BG.

BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana)


GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza)

SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea)

PEG-BILLED FINCH (Acanthidops bairdi)

A male and female were feeding in seeding bamboo on the road to the communications towers atop Cerro de la Muerte. It was fantastic to study the female as she foraged at close range right in front of us. A great sighting!

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)


Two were perched on a roadside fence in La Gamba.

THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea)

VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina)

YELLOW-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila nigricollis)

We scoped one in the wet fields near the entrance to Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

Field Guides Birding Tours
An exploration of the terraced gardens at Paraiso Quetzal led to some jaw-dropping views of Golden-browed Chlorophonia. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.




The new name for Grayish Saltator in this area; we saw one visiting flowers in a canopy tree at Talari Mountain Lodge.

STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus)


GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata)

Near the bar at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

COMMON TENT-MAKING BAT (Uroderma bilobatum)

Wow - fantastic to see these beautiful bats in a frond "tent" at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.


We scoped a "rapidly" moving individual in a treetop at San Isidro. We had only about a minute before it moved out of sight behind some leaves.

VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides)

The larger and more variably colored squirrel we saw on this route.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis)

CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata)

Field Guides Birding Tours
It was great to work with our excellent driver Johnny Happer and local guide Vernon Campos. In this photo, I (Tom Johnson) am sandwiched in between these two great guys who made our trip run smoothly. Photo by group member Barbara Williams.

NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor)

One was snoozing on a comfy tree branch in the heat of the day at Las Pangas.

WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica)

Totals for the tour: 316 bird taxa and 8 mammal taxa