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Costa Rican Pygmy-OwlIn association with Steve Bird's Wildlife
A Birder's Paradise
March 23 – April 6, 2019

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to reserve your space!   

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This tour to a variety of bird rich sites in central Costa Rica offers superb value for money and the chance to see nearly half the country’s birds in just one trip! Our itinerary visits the best and areas for birding where you can relax in the comfort of wonderful lodges while enjoying myriads of birds. From the Caribbean lowlands to the Pacific coast and to the forested highlands, we will explore a wealth of varied habitats that all hold their own special birds. A good number of hummingbirds can be seen coming to feeders alongside colorful tanagers, absurd oropendolas, toucans Collared Aracariand aracaris, honeycreepers and euphonias. A fantastic boat trip takes us along a bird-filled estuary and into the mangroves where countless species allow close approach and ideal photo opportunities. In the highlands we will look for one of the world’s most beautiful birds, the Resplendent Quetzal a highlight to a tour ablaze with colorful, exotic and simply superb birds.

With gorgeous birds, huge butterflies, dragonflies, lizards, several monkeys, sloths, and forests laden with orchids and flowers, Costa Rica is a must visit destination for anyone with an interest in wildlife. Rest assured we are envied for setting up and running Costa Rica’s very best bird watching tours with itineraries that are efficient and highly successful. With so many good things to see, it makes sense to travel with the people that know the country best! Join Steve on his 38th tour to the fabulous Costa Rica!

Here are just a few of the fabulous possibilities on this tour:

  • Resplendent Quetzal
  • Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl
  • Scintillant Hummingbird
  • Streak-chested Antpitta
  • Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher
  • Flame-colored Tanager
  • Fasciated Tiger-Heron
  • Fiery-throated Hummingbird
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Snowy Cotinga
  • Sunbittern
  • Ocellated Antbird
  • Sungrebe 
  • Black-crested Coquette
  • Turquoise Cotinga
  • Snowcap
  • Zeledonia/Wrenthrush
  • King Vulture
  • Spotted Antbird
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • Volcano Junco
  • Silvery-throated Jay
  • Spotted Wood-Quail
  • Mangrove Hummingbird

Trip Cost>       Registration Form>        Go here for past trip reports>

Keel-billed ToucanDay 1    Arrival – San Jose  - 23rd March
Arrival in San Jose on Saturday the 23rd March and transfer the short distance to our hotel. Note that this is an arrival day and depending on your flight arrival time there may opportunities to bird the lodge grounds in the afternoon. Night San Jose.


Day 2    San Jose – Carara NP 
After a little early morning birding around the lodge we will head for the Pacific coast and our coastal accommodation near to Carara National Park for the next 3 nights. Our secluded birding lodge offers opportunities to see spectacular birds like Scarlet Macaws, Fiery-billed Aracari, Cinnamon Hummingbirds, Canivet's Emerald, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and much more. Night Carara.

Days 3 - 4    Carara National Park 
We have two full days to bird this wonderful area including a day visiting Carara National Park, which is the northernmost region of primary rainforest remaining in Costa Rica, and is the beginning of the transition zone into the tropical dry forests of the northwest. Its 11,600 acres hold a wide range of species and includes the most important area for breeding Scarlet Macaws in the country.

Royal Flycatcher.Our time in Carara will be spent on a several short trails where birding can produce specialties like Northern Royal Flycatcher, Green Shrike-Vireo, Baird’s, Gartered, and Black-throated Trogons, Tawny-winged and Cocoa Woodcreepers, Blue-black Grosbeak, White-whiskered Puffbird, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Orange-collared Manakin, Chestnut-backed and Dusky Antbirds, Dot-winged Antwren, Black-hooded Antshrike, Blue-throated Goldentail, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Costa Rican Swift, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Rufous-and-white, Rufous-breasted, Riverside and Black-bellied Wrens, Gray-headed, and White-shouldered Tanagers, Long-billed Gnatwren, Tawny-crowned and Lesser Greenlet, White-winged Becard, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher and Northern Bentbill.

Our lunches will be back at the lodge after which we will then re-visit Carara but this time taking a different trail where we hope to connect with a different variety of species including several understory specialities such as Streak-chested Antpitta, Black-faced Antthrush, Ruddy Quail-Dove and Great Tinamou. We will also check a small stream where Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins come in to bathe and sometimes accompanied by Thrush-like Schiffornis.

We will also visit an area that offers outstanding views over Carara National Park right down to the Pacific coastline. Here a few select species can be found that maybe hard to connect with elsewhere. Western Tanagers, Painted Bunting, Ruby-throated and Charming Hummingbirds, plus Philadelphia Vireo and possibly Fiery-billed Aracari will all be in our sights. An overlook will give us superb chances to see the magnificent King Vulture as well as other raptors such as White Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk and Swallow-tailed Kite. 

One of the highlights of the Carara area will be a fabulous boat trip on the River Tarcoles. Setting off under the guidance of our expert boatman we will first search the estuary and river edges where we can expect to see roosting Boat-billed Herons, plus Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned and sometimes Black-crowned Night-Heron, Green Heron, Tri-colored Heron, White Ibis, occasionally Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Anhinga, Neotropic Cormorant, Spotted Sandpiper, Black-necked Stilt, Purple Gallinule, Northern Jacana, Killdeer, many shorebirds and if we are lucky both Double-striped Thick-knee and Collared Plover. Out towards the mouth of the estuary will see Laughing Gulls and a variety of terns, plus Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatebirds and the ever present Ospreys. We then move into the narrower mangrove creeks where we will look for Mangrove Black Hawk, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Prothonotary Warbler and with a lot of luck Mangrove Vireo and Mangrove Hummingbird. As we return with the sun setting we will see Cattle and Snowy Egrets going to roost and noisy Scarlet Macaws and Yellow-naped Parrots flying overhead. Our finale to this superb trip will be countless Lesser Nighthawks hawking for insects low over the water. 2 Nights Carara.


Day 5    Carara NP – San Gerardo de Rivas 
Speckled Tanager.This morning we will have an early breakfast and then head to an area of mangrove and scrub where we hope to get views of the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird and Mangrove Vireo plus an assortment of other species that could include Panama and Northern Scrub Flycatchers, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Olivaceous Piculet, Masked Tityra, Scrub Greenlet and Northern Waterthrush.

Later on, we will then set off on our drive towards our next destination. We will keep an eye out for any raptors not yet on our list, such as Harris's Hawk and Swallow-tailed Kite. Once we have reached our lodge we will have a little time to bird the grounds where we can look for an assortment of species such as Streaked Saltator, Speckled Tanager, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Blue Dacnis, Slaty Spinetail, Blue-crowned (Lesson's) Motmot, Scaled Pigeons and with real luck the gorgeous looking Turquoise Cotinga. Our rustic lodge has recorded more than 200 species of birds including Spotted Tanagers and Red-legged Honeycreepers coming to feeders. At night we can even try for Pacific Screech-Owl in the gardens. Night Talari Mountain Lodge.  
Respledent Quetzal.Day 6   Talari Lodge - Savegre Mountain Lodge  
This morning after breakfast and a little birding around the gardens we will slowly head up to 11,000 feet with stops along the way to look for a few hummingbirds and perhaps Cherrie's Tanager.  If it's not too misty we will look at the high paramo for species such as Volcano Junco, Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Sooty Robin, Volcano Hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbirds , Slaty Flowerpiercer, Black-cheeked Warbler and with luck maybe Timberline Wren or the skulking Zeledonia. From here we will descend the other side of the mountain to a beautiful lodge set in a rich forested valley at 7,000 feet. The lodge has recorded over 200 species with many of these being the highland specialities and as we travel down the valley in the afternoon we will make a few stops to search for species such as Flame-colored Tanager, Large-footed Finch, Yellow-thighed Finch and Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher.  Night Savegre Mountain Lodge.
Day 7   Savegre Mountain Lodge 
Today we will have a full day of birding in the vicinity of Savegre Lodge. There will be great opportunities to look for birds such as Lesser Violetear, Scintillant Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, Violet Sabrewing , White-throated Mountaingem, and Magnificent Hummingbird. Other specialties include Large-footed Finches, Black Guan, Collared Redstart, Collared Trogon, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Yellow-thighed Finch, Sooty Thrushes, Mountain Thrushes, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, Flame-throated Warbler, Emerald Toucanet, Ochraceous and Dark Pewee, Black-capped and Yellowish Flycatcher, Long-tailed Silky and Black-and-yellow Silky Flycatchers, Black-thighed Grosbeak, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Silvery-throated Jay, Spotted Woodquail and possibly Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Brown-capped and Yellow-winged Vireos. We are also in Resplendent Quetzal country and will be searching for this superb bird which many say is the most beautiful bird in the world. Night Savegre Mountain Lodge. 
Day 8    Savegre - Sarapiqui 
This morning we will visit the nearby Paraiso de Quetzales. Here we will look at the hummingbird feeders which will be buzzing with Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, after which we will take a walk through the cloud forest to the preferred habitat of the Resplendent Quetzal. The area is alive with epiphytes, orchids and bromeliads, adorning the trees and making this walk a most gratifying experience en route to our encounter with the Quetzal. Other birds are also present and we will try for the elusive Zeledonia, and have more chances for Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Flame-colored Tanager, Ochraceous Pewee and much more. After lunch in Paraiso de Quetzales we will continue on to Sarapiqui, in the Caribbean lowlands. Depending on time we may make stops to look for Snowcap and Fasciated Tiger-Heron and the localized Nicaraguan Seed-Finch before arriving at our super lodge. 2 Nights La Quinta Country Inn.

Great Currasows.Day 9    La Selva OTS 
After an early breakfast we will spend the full day at the nearby La Selva OTS. At the confluence of two major rivers in the Caribbean lowlands of northern Costa Rica, La Selva comprises 1,600 hectares (3,900 acres) of tropical wet forests and surrounding lands. It averages 4 meters of rainfall that is spread rather evenly throughout the year.

Located within the tropical and premontane wet forest, the Station has about 73% of its area under primary tropical rain forest. It was purchased in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies and declared a private biological reserve and station. Since then, it has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forests. For the birder it is a haven for a wide range of sought after species.

Before entering the reserve we will spend time birding the approach road an area always alive with birds and often a surprise or two. Loose flocks may include Barred, Fasciated and Great Antshrikes, Broad-billed Motmot, Rufous-winged, Cinnamon and Chestnut-colored Woodpeckers, Pied Puffbird, Passerini’s Tanagers, Plain Wren, White-ringed Flycatcher, Olive-backed Euphonia, Black-cowled and with luck Yellow-tailed Oriole, Black-thighed and Black-faced Grosbeaks, and occasionally on a tiny stream we have seen Agami Heron.

Within the reserve we will spend both morning and afternoon within areas of tropical rainforest where many species will be sought throughout the day including targets such as Snowy Cotinga, Great Curassow, Rufous Motmot, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Western Slaty Antshrike, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Red-capped Manakin, White-collared Manakin, Great Tinamou, Stripe-breasted Wren, Dusky-faced Tanager, White-whiskered Puffbird, Bright-rumped Attila, Northern Barred Woodcreeper, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Rufous Mourner, and if we are in luck there may be Vermiculated Screech-Owl or Crested Owl on their day roosts, or Great Green Macaws flying noisily overhead. Also overhead we could see Gray-rumped, Lesser Swallow-tailed and even the rare Spot-fronted Swift and raptors could include Short-tailed Hawk, Gray-headed Kite, Semiplumbeous Hawk and even chances for King Vulture. Night La Quinta.   
Day 10    La Quinta – Tenorio Volcano 
Keel-billed Motmot.Before and after breakfast we will spend some time looking around the gardens and checking the feeders after fresh bananas are put out. By the small ponds we could see Russet-naped Wood-Rails and Green Heron while other species may include Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Orange-billed Sparrow, Crimson-collared, Blue-gray, Golden-hooded, Palm and Passerini’s Tanagers, Green Honeycreeper, Bay Wren, Buff-throated and Black-headed Saltators. 

We will then depart and travel to the Tenorio Volcano region. The slopes of the Caribbean side of the Tenorio Volcano are covered with rural farms, cattle ranches, small villages, mountain forest, rivers and waterfalls that create one of the most scenic regions of the country. Our afternoon will be spent birding the gardens of our private lodge and maybe some of the nearby trails. The list of birds includes many sought after species and it is these we will try and find, such as Tody Motmot, Keel-billed Motmot, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Great Curassow, Three-wattled Bellbird, Dull-mantled Antbird, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Purplish-backed Quail-dove, Brown-hooded Parrot, Coppery-headed Emerald, White-collared Manakin, White-ruffed Manakin, Green Shrike-vireo, and Rufous-winged Tanager. Night Celeste Mountain Lodge.
Day 11    Tenorio region
Breakfast will enlivened by the birds coming into the fruit put out at the feeders just off the dining room balcony. Black-cheeked Woodpeckers and Clay-colored Thrushes will dominate but we will also keep a look out for Collared Aracari, Crimson-collared Tanager and Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers. After breakfast we will check an area of flowers that often attracts the sought after White-tipped Sicklebill.

We then have the rest of the day to bird the forests and roadsides in search of a wealth of birds. Among the special birds here we will look for Tody Motmot, and if we were extremely lucky and came across an Antswarm we may get the chance to observe species that regularly follow these ants in search of insects, spiders and lizards trying desperately to get out of the way of this carpet of ants. Bicolored and Ocellated Antbird are among our targets while we get to learn about the forest and its many plants. Night Celeste Mountain Lodge.
Nicaraguan Seed-finch.Day 12   Tenorio - Cano Negro 
Today we will spend some of the morning catching up with any species we may have missed before setting off towards Cano Negro National Park. This wonderful park is a stark contrast from where we have just been and it borders Nicaragua to the north. Our wonderful lodge is nestled right beside a bird-filled lagoon, where a variety of herons, ducks and even the localized Nicaraguan Grackle, one of our main target birds can be found. There are many other superb species within close vicinity of the lodge and we will search for localized Spot-breasted Wrens, Gray-headed Dove, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Olive-throated Parakeet and in the open grasslands the Nicaraguan Seed-Finch and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture. In the evening we will go on a night drive in search of Pauraque, Common and Great Potoo. Night Cano Negro.


Day 13   Cano Negro - Arenal Volcano 
This morning we will have an early start for our boat ride on the Cano Negro River. This excellent trip will give us chances for many birds including all five species of kingfisher and the sought after Sungrebe. This is one of the only places we can find the very localized Nicaraguan Grackle, a bird associated with wetlands and reed beds. Depending on water levels we could also find the striking Agami Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Green Ibis, Black-collared Hawk, Rufous-naped Wood Rail, Collared Plover, Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Swallow and if luck is on our side possibly Pinnated Bittern or one of the rarer crakes such as Yellow-breasted. Spectacled Caiman are easily seen and if we are fortunate we could even see Neotropical Otter.

Arenal Volcano.We will then head for Arenal Volcano, with its almost perfectly shaped cone, which soars 1,633 meters (5,500 ft) above sea level, and from time to time, deep earth echoes are heard and clouds of vapor or smoke billows out of the top, making for a wonderful experience, and all viewable from our perfectly situated lodge. Although the main attraction in this region is the volcano, the area offers fantastic bird watching opportunities, with forest trails, tumbling streams and a huge lake. The gardens abound with birds and feeders and flowers attract a wealth of birds. A nearby stream often holds Fasciated Tiger-Heron and occasionally Sunbittern, while forest edges could treat us to Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Collared Aracari, White-throated Magpie-Jays, Keel-billed Toucan, Slaty Spinetail, Bright-rumped Attila, and possibly Keel-billed Motmot. Night Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Day 14   Arenal Observatory Lodge 
No doubt we’ll be up early checking the feeders at our lodge and hopefully marveling at the sounds of the volcano. We’ll spend today birding the grounds around the lodge and some nearby tracts of forest. The entire area is a haven for birds and we will search out rarely seen species such as Keel-billed Motmot, Lanceolated Monklet, Ocellated Antbird and Thicket Antpitta. Easy viewing on the feeders and flowers should include Emerald, Crimson-collared, Hepatic, Blue-gray, Golden-Crimson-collared Tanagerhooded, Passerini’s and Bay-headed Tanagers, while hummingbirds amongst the flowering gardens should include Black-crested Coquette, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Crowned Woodnymph, Purple-crowned Fairy, Stripe-throated Hermit, White-necked Jacobin and maybe Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer. Many other birds will keep us busy such as Montezuma’s Oropendola, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spotted Antbird and Crested Guan. The shy yet vocal Nightingale Wren will be sought, and we could get to grips with Black-bellied Wren, Bare-crowned Antbird, Long-billed Gnatwren, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush and even Great Potoo or the rarely seen Bare-necked Umbrellabird. White-nosed Coatis will entertain us and we could even see Northern Tamandua. Nights Arenal Observatory Lodge. 

Day 15   Arenal - San Jose 
Today we will have time for some final birding in this wonderful area before setting off on our return journey to San Jose
in time for your international departures. Please arrange a departing flight that leaves no earlier than  2 pm.

Leaders:  Steve Bird, Gina Nichol, & local guides

Contact or to reserve your space! 

COSTA RICA! A Birder's Paradise
March 23 – April 6, 2019    REGISTRATION FORM (pdf)>
Contact or to reserve your space!   

TOUR PRICE (15 days):  $4250.00 per person based on double occupancy from San Jose, Costa Rica (Airport code: SJO). Single supplement: $675.00.

Deposit: $500 per person. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise when you have made payment.
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 5.

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals from Dinner on 23rd March to Breakfast on 6th April (some picnic lunches), group airport transfers, ground transport throughout, boat trips, all entrance fees to parks as stated in the itinerary, and services of English speaking leaders and driver.

Not included: International airfare, passport/visa fees, departure taxes, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, beverages, or gratuities for porterage or personal services.

Accommodation: All lodges are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms, a good variety of meals and cooked breakfasts.

Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with regular birding walks along roads and well marked trails. There are early morning options and pre-breakfast excursions, followed by morning and afternoon sessions. The weather is generally good to warm, even hot, with possibilities of rain in the afternoons. Be prepared for all eventualities.

RESERVATIONS: Contact either or to reserve your space! Then, complete the Registration & Release Form and mail it with your deposit of US$500.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC.  Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   
>Download & print the Registration Form 

Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights. Please do not book flights until you receive this information from us and are notified that the trip has sufficient numbers to run. Final payment is due Nov 23, 2018.

This tour is being run through - Steve’s Birds Wildlife – Birding & Wildlife tours, 5 Quarry Cottages, Plymouth, Devon, UK - Contact Steve Bird for more information. Please note if booking from the US, registration and payments can be made through Sunrise Birding LLC.
Sunrise Birding LLC, PO Box 274, Cos Cob, CT 06807 US.  Contact

**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations must be made in writing. In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur. There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

Insurance: Sunrise Birding, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N

This tour is being run through Steve Bird's Wildlife
Steve’s Birds Wildlife – Birding & Wildlife Tours
5 Quarry Cottages, Plymouth, Devon, UK. PL5 3PF
Contact Steve Bird for more information.