Region (Compass)

Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W ha topography msl 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (25th-28th January, 2005)


Birding Site Guide

The Carara National Park was accessed from the town of Tarcoles which can be reached in about 2 and a half hours from San Jose on regular buses towards the beach town of Jaco. Tarcoles has several places to stay. I stayed at the Restaurant Hotel Carara ($20 for a double) which is a 10 minute walk from where the bus drops you (towards playa Azul). Scarlet Macaws could be easily seen feeding in trees near the hotel during the day. The park headquarters were about 2km back along the highway. There are some trails through good forest from the Headquarters but better is the Sendero Laguna a further 2km towards the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles. This has a wide trail through secondary and primary forest and also passes a lake which has many water birds. Entrance tickets ($6 for foreigners) are sold from 7am but it seems possible to buy a ticket the day before and go along the lake trail earlier. I also birded along the beach to the river estuary which had several wading bird species and I also checked mangroves near Tarcoles for possible Mangrove Hummingbird and Yellow-billed Cotinga. Some mangroves are easily accessible. From the Hotel Carara take the road towards Playa Azul for just a few hundred metres and turn left at a sign which reads 'Paseo de la Laguna'. This comes to a dead end but before that on the left is a small wooden bridge over a creek with some mangroves. Neither species were seen here although Mangrove Warlber was. A female Yellow-billed Cotinga was seen just before bridge over the Rio Tarcoles perched in a tree by the road. It then flew down into trees by the river. Three-wattled Bellbird was heard along the Sendero Laguna but Baird's Trogon and Mangrove Hummingbird were not seen. Apparently good mangroves occur upstream of the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles where Mangrove Hummingbird may occur and one of the tour companies running crocodile viewing trips may be persuaded to take people up there. I saw 153 species including 35 lifers.

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Species seen 

  • Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
  • Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
  • Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
  • Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
  • Great Egret Ardea alba
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula
  • Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius
  • Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum
  • White Ibis Eudocimus albus
  • Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja
  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
  • Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata
  • Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
  • Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus
  • Crane Hawk Geranospiza caerulescens
  • Gray Hawk Asturina nitida
  • Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway
  • Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima
  • Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica
  • Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa
  • Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
  • Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  • Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
  • Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia
  • Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
  • Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
  • Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
  • Sanderling Calidris alba
  • Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
  • Gull-billed Tern ? Sterna nilotica
  • Royal Tern Sterna maxima
  • Rock Dove Columba livia Introduced
  • Red-billed Pigeon Patagioenas flavirostris
  • Short-billed Pigeon h Patagioenas nigrirostris
  • Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
  • Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti
  • Inca Dove Columbina inca
  • White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
  • Violaceous Quail-Dove Geotrygon violacea
  • Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
  • Scarlet Macaw Ara macao
  • Crimson-fronted Parakeet Aratinga finschi
  • Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis
  • White-fronted Parrot Amazona albifrons
  • Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
  • Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris
  • Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
  • White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
  • Band-tailed Barbthroat Threnetes ruckeri
  • Little Hermit Phaethornis
  • Western Long-tailed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris
  • Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii
  • Violet Sabrewing Campylopterus hemileucurus
  • Green-breasted Mango Anthracothorax prevostii
  • Blue-throated Goldentail Hylocharis eliciae
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl
  • Steely-vented Hummingbird Saucerottia saucerrottei
  • Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus
  • Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena
  • Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
  • Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata
  • Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona
  • Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
  • Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa
  • Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda
  • White-whiskered Puffbird Malacoptila panamensis
  • Golden-naped Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysauchen
  • Hoffmann's Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis
  • Plain Xenops Xenops minutus
  • Tawny-winged Woodcreeper Dendrocincla anabatina
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper Deconychura longicauda
  • Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii
  • Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
  • Black-hooded Antshrike Thamnophilus bridgesi
  • Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul
  • Yellow-billed Cotinga Carpodectes antoniae Endangered
  • Three-wattled Bellbird h Procnias tricarunculata Vulnerable
  • Orange-collared Manakin Manacus aurantiacus
  • Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata
  • Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster
  • Northern Bentbill Oncostoma cinereigulare
  • Slate-headed Tody-Tyrant ? Poecilotriccus sylvia
  • Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum
  • Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens
  • Yellow-margined Flycatcher ? Tolmomyias assimilis
  • Least Flycatcher ? Empidonax minimus Rare/Accidental
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer
  • Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
  • Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
  • Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarynchus pitangua
  • Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis
  • Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus
  • Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
  • Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor
  • Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
  • Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea
  • Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
  • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • Rufous-naped Wren Campylorhynchus rufinucha
  • Black-bellied Wren Thryothorus fasciatoventris
  • Rufous-breasted Wren Thryothorus rutilus
  • Riverside Wren Thryothorus semibadius
  • Rufous-and-white Wren Thryothorus rufalbus
  • Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi
  • Tropical Gnatcatcher ? Polioptila plumbea
  • White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa
  • Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
  • Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus
  • Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis
  • Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina
  • Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica
  • Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
  • American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
  • Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea
  • Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
  • Kentucky Warbler Oporornis formosus
  • White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus
  • White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
  • Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica
  • Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
  • Passerini's Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii
  • Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
  • Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
  • Yellow-crowned Euphonia Euphonia luteicapilla
  • Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola
  • Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata
  • Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus
  • Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina
  • Variable Seedeater Sporophila corvina
  • Stripe-headed Sparrow Aimophila ruficauda
  • Grayish Saltator ? Saltator coerulescens
  • Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maximus
  • Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea
  • Painted Bunting Passerina ciris
  • Melodious Blackbird Dives dives Rare/Accidental
  • Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
  • Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
  • Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius

Other Fauna 

A total of -- species of mammals. 

There are -- recorded species of amphibians and reptiles. 


Author: Charles Hesse