Hannah Kornbrath's travels in Costa Rica during Spring 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Less than a week to go! List of birds I want to see

Yes, I'm excited. There's still a lot to do before I leave on Sunday. I bought a field guide to Costa Rican birds at Audubon yesterday. There are about 900 species of birds in Costa Rica; as many as there are in all of North America. A friend suggested I make a list of the top ten birds I most want to see during my travels this semester. I couldn't limit it to ten, so here are the seventeen prettiest birds I'm most hoping to see:

1. Black Guan
An endemic species (lives only in Costa Rica or small surrounding region) resembling a black chicken with a long tail. However, they are much better fliers than chickens and spend a lot of time in trees.

2. Brown Booby
I've always wanted to see a booby (no, I've seen plenty of that kind), and this is the species most commonly spotted from Costa Rica's coast.

3. King Vulture
Ok, for a vulture, you have to admit that this guy is gorgeous. That fleshy thing hanging off its beak is called a caruncle, and is similar to a turkey's wattle.

4. Crested Caracara
I love birds of prey, and I've always wanted to see this badass-looking falcon.

5. Crimson-fronted Parakeet
Another endemic species, this is the most common parakeet in Costa Rica's Central Valley.

6. Scarlet Macaw
This iconic bird of the American tropics uses its strong bill to open large, tough seeds, or remove your finger. After seeing them in movies and zoos, it'd be great to spot that vibrant plumage in the wild.

7. Fiery-throated Hummingbird
Hummingbirds are tiny, jeweled wonders of evolution; able to beat their wings 12-90 times per second (depending on the species). There are more than twice as many species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica as in North America. This species is endemic and embodies all the colors of the rainbow.

8. Purple-throated Mountain-gem
Another beautiful, endemic hummingbird, the male and female could be mistaken for different species.
9. Orange-bellied Trogon
A pretty, endemic bird, with an awesome zebra-striped tail.

10. Resplendent Quetzal
A big reason why birders go to Monteverde, the elusive quetzal is Guatemala's national bird and the name of their currency. A must for any bird list.

11. Blue-crowned Motmot
This bird is very pretty, and also has a cool tail, which it swings like a pendulum.

12. Keel-billed Toucan
Another iconic tropical bird, toucans use their large, dextrous bill to reach tasty fruit.

13. Three-wattled Bellbird
Just look at this guy, who wouldn't want to see this distinctive, endemic, obnoxiously loud bird?
I found a video of the three-wattled bellbird calling; it sounds pretty crazy: link

14. Bare-necked Umbrellabird
Another very distinctive, endemic bird, and possibly a winner for best hairdo? I guess it's very difficult to photograph too; Google Images turned up zero good photos of this guy.

15. Orange-collared Manakin
Recognize this one from my blog profile? I'd like to see my mascot in the wild.

16. Clay-colored Robin
Of all the beautiful, colorful birds in Costa Rica, you'd think they'd choose something besides this robin for their national bird. But supposedly it has a beautiful song.

17. Golden-browed Chlorophonia
It's endemic, pretty, cute, and green. What's not to love?

All images stolen from Google Images. Bird facts from Wikipedia and The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean.


  1. The bare-necked umbrellabird sort of looks like the the frigate birds from the Galapagos.

  2. Stumbled across this while researching birds and college...very nice documentary of your travels and research!