Friday, November 18, 2011

Birding Costa Rica – a brief and personal view

Such a diverse country as Costa Rica, in terms of habitat, is always likely to produce a dazzling variety of birds. And it is the case that this country, only the size of a small State (or Wales if you are in the UK), has more bird species than all of North America. During a normal Worldwide Birding Tour in this country we are normally able to find over 400 bird species in just 2 weeks, put simply it is staggering! The only complication can be deciding which group of birds are your favourite, Trogons, Motmots, Hummingbirds, Manakins, Parrots or the incredibly coloured and varied family of Tanagers. Aquatic species too provide for some memorable moments, seeing Sunbittern is always special, whilst seeing Skimmers flock on the outlet of the Tarcoles is a true spectacle. 

Raptors are well represented here. Whilst White Hawk and King Vulture can provide a highlight to any tour of Central America, for me the elegance and sight of Swallow-tailed Kite will always be a moment to cherish and look forward to. Laughing Falcon, Black Hawk and Red-Tailed Hawk are frequently seen, with Roadside Hawk seen most years. Of course many other raptors will be seen, but I digress. For sheer variety and colours then I have to say Tanagers really do take some beating, a personal view, but you would be hard pressed to find another family of birds so colourful. Tanagers are restricted to the New World and then mostly to the tropics. Several species are localised and even endemic to small areas. Throughout their range there are reckoned to be about 240 species in the Tanager family, but as is the way of current research, certain genera are expected to be reassessed and placed elsewhere under different bird families. And to confuse everybody, a whole lot more species are in line to be added to the tanager family!

By the time this splitting and realigning of species is done, we are expecting the tanager family to grow into one of the largest family groups in the world, possibly well in excess of 400 species. I hope readers might want join me on our February 2012 tour to Costa Rica and experience the joys and amazing diversity of birding in this wonderful country. I hope I might look forward to seeing you there and joining me on this adventure!

If you want to read an interesting account of recent developments on this great looking family, then I thoroughly recommend the following link and article. Read more.

To read more on my tour to Costa Rica and for full tour description including itinerary, please follow this link