Wildlife Enthusiasts & Bird-watchers from around the world come to Costa Rica for the sole purpose of wildlife watching. Costa Rica represents only .03% of the planet’s surface, yet is one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. It is home to more than 4% of the total species found on the planet.

The bird population here is exstensive, boasting more than 900 recorded species. Even in Costa Rica’s major cities, parrots squawk overhead while the clay-colored robin (Turdus grayi), the national bird of Costa Rica, serenades from the tree tops and are said to call in the rains at the start of Costa Rica’s rainy season beginning in May. Costa Rica’s numerous national parks provide a great many habitats for these colorful birds.

Common birds of Costa Rica

Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)— A large wading bird with pink plumage and a distinctive spatulate bill, is one of the most striking birds found in North America. They stand 85 cm tall and have a 1.3 m wingspan. Read more.


Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)— These vibrantly colored animals live in the mountainous, tropical forests of Central America where they eat fruit, insects, lizards, and other small creatures. Read more.


American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea)— This tiny fishing bird (13 cm long and weighs 18g) is common in dense forests and mangroves along small streams or rivers with heavily vegetated banks in the American tropics. It has the typical kingfisher shape, with a short tail and long bill. It is oily green with a yellow-orange collar around the neck, rufous underparts and a white belly. Read more.


Broad-billed Motmot (Electron platyrhynchum)— This bird is found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest. They generally stay in the forest’s mid levels, often in relatively open areas. Most often encountered as singles or pairs, they sit quietly in between sallying forays for insects and other small animals. Read more.


Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis)— A medium-sized hummingbird which breeds only in the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. The adult Fiery-throated Hummingbird has shiny green body plumage, a blue tail, and a white spot behind the eye. It often looks dark, but when the light catches it at the right angle, it shows a brilliant blue crown, yellow-bordered bright orange throat, and blue chest patch. Read more.


Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)— A long-winged, fork-tailed black bird which inhabits tropical oceans measuring about 39 inches long with an 85 inch wingspan. The Magnificent Frigatebird is an agile flier that snatches food off the surface of the ocean and steals food from other birds. In the breeding season (which takes place mostly in the south of the United States), males have a bright red throat pouch. Read more.


Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)— One of 17 species of macaws, the scarlet macaw is one of the most beautiful members of the parrot family and one of the largest Neotropical parrots. They dwell mostly in rainforests and have strong, curved beaks to crack hard nuts and seeds, and a tongue that can hold onto the kernel to pull it from the shell. They eat clay from riverbanks, though no one is sure why. Males and females both look the same. Read more.


Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa)— A beautifully colored medium sized bird (approximately 34 cm long and weighs about 65 grams) that lives from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico down to Costa Rica. It has a mostly green body with a bright blue stripe above the eye and a blue-bordered black patch on the throat. The flight feathers and upper side of the tail are blue. It is omnivorous, eating small insects and reptiles but may also eat fruits. They have even been seen eating poisonous frogs on occasion. Read more.


White-throated Magpie Jay (Calocitta formosa)— A large (between 43–56 cm in length and weighs 205–213 g in weight) blue, black and white bird that sports jaunty black plume living primarily in tropical dry forest as far south as Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It is omnivorous, consuming a wide range of animal and plant matter: insects and caterpillars, frogs, lizards, eggs and nestlings of other birds, seeds, fruits, grain, and nectar from Balsa blossoms. Younger birds take several years to acquire the full range of foraging skills of their parents Read more.


Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)— The national bird of Costa Rica, the Clay-colored Thrush is a small bird (about 23–27 cm and weighing 74-76 g) with brownish plumage, somewhat lighter below than above and a greenish-yellow bill. It usually forages for fruit or invertebrates on the ground or near it, singly or in pairs, but flocks may feed high in fruiting trees. It will follow army ants to feed on small prey disturbed by the ant columns. Read more.

Links & Other Resources

List of Bird Species in Costa Rica | Costa Rica Bird Tours | Plants and Animals of Sleepy Cove Slideshow