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 00o00´/00o00´ N/A ha 100-300m, tropical primary old growth forest

(25th October to 3rd November 2008)


Birding Site Guide

This is a trip report by a group of professional ornithologists and interested birders following a visit to Selva Bananito, Costa Rica. Joe Franke of the International Association of Conservation Landowners was the coordinator. IACL is a new non-profit organization that seeks to assist landowners whose property abuts official protected areas with coordinated management plans. Examples of biodiversity conservation include the provision of biological corridors which maximize the conservation value of habitat on their properties.

Selva Bananito is a privately owned reserve on Costa Rica’s Atlantic versant, 15 km inland from the Caribbean. About 300 species of birds have been recorded in and around the reserve. Selva Bananito borders La Amistad National Park and constitutes an important area for altitudinal and seasonal migrants. The altitude in Bananito ranges from 100 to 300 meters, with forest up to 900 meters in La Amistad accessible from the Lodge. The reserve contains 850 hectares (2000 acres) of primary old growth forest, as well as organic fruit orchards, rivers, wetlands and secondary forests in various stages of succession. The lodge was named by Outside Magazine as ‘One of the top 10 ecolodges in the world’. Its one of the few eco-lodges in the country that actually walks the talk of sustainability while still managing to be very comfortable.

The purpose of the trip was to expand the list of birds found in and around the reserve, to identify critical habitat for species of particular interest and to lay the groundwork for future management decisions. Prices of trips are kept at near cost as our primary aim is to attract a range of people to Selva Bananito to assist with biological inventory work that shall document the importance of the reserve as a buffer for La Amistad National Park for biodiversity conservation.

Day 1 - (October 26th) We started our trip to Selva Bananito by assembling our group over a couple of days at the Milvia Hotel, a very pleasant bed and breakfast in the San Pedro area of San Jose, near the university. The place is owned by a British ex-pat, and the staff are very helpful. There is a wonderful veranda on the roof of the Milvia, from which you can see a wide variety of birds that are tolerant of disturbed habitat, in this case the suburbs. Birds seen on the morning of our departure included: Hoffman's Woodpecker, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and White-winged Dove.

We Departed San Jose (Hotel Milvia) at 08:30. At a rest stop at one of Costa Rica’s many combination restaurant and butterfly gardens, one of our groups sighted a Scarlet-thighed Dacnis near the parking area. On the entrance road and at the river crossing within the SB property, we saw Spotted Sandpipers and a Snowy Egret. We Arrived SB around 14:00, had lunch, birded around cabins, then took the pasture trail on the edge of the forest, later dubbed the "poop loop" due to the copious numbers of cow-pies we had to avoid, before dark. Birds seen on this walk included Boat-billed Herons, a pair of which can be seen regularly in the wooded wetland across the path from the pond, which has a resident population of Purple Gallinules and jacanas. Spectacled Caimans, which are relatives of alligators and crocodiles, inhabit this pond as well. Great Tinamous and White-throated Crakes were heard calling, and a group of Grey-headed Chachalacas were visible in a tree from the dining room porch area. An adult Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle was seen in flight by one member of our group.

Day 2 - 05:30 some of us took poop loop again, then breakfast at c.8:00. 10:30-12:00 hiked to river, then back for lunch. 14:15 - 17:15 took "nature trail". Birds seen included White-tailed Kite Double-toothed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, Great Black-Hawk, Great Hawk Eagle, Bat Falcon, Laughing Falcon (heard) Pale-vented Pigeon Short-billed Pigeon Ruddy Ground-Dove Gray-chested Dove (nest with two young near the cabins) Brown-hooded Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, White-crowned Parrot, Red-lored Parrot, Mealy Parrot, Chestnut-backed Antbird Squirrel Cuckoo and Groove-billed Ani. In the evening, Vermiculated Screech-Owl, Spectacled Owl and Central American Pygmy-Owl were all heard near the cabins and Little Tinamou was heard.

Day 3 - 05:45 – Due to intermittently inclement weather, we birded the lodge area for 2 hours, especially productive was a fruiting fig ficus tree near the cabins, dubbed by the group as the "tree of life". Many species of Tangers, Euphonias and other passerines were feeding on the fruit. Cinnamon Becard was also seen near the cabins as. Other highlights of the day included Snowy Cotinga, Purple-throated Fruitcrow (heard only), Violaceous Trogon, Lattice-tailed Trogon, White-necked Puffbird. An adult Barn Owl was also sighted near the cabins and patiently waited until the entire group viewed it. We then travelled by pickup to the entrance road sightings included: Gray Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, White Tailed Kite and Double-toothed Kite and White-collared Manakin.

Day 4 – Heavy rain in a.m., not terribly productive morning, but in the afternoon we walked to a pasture bordering the beginning of SB’s old growth forest. Highlights were: Short-tailed Nighthawk, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Cinnamon Woodpecker and in the forest itself, Broad-billed Mot-Mot.

Day 5 - Despite a steady hard rain, part of our group hiked up the Bananito River to a section of old growth forest. Highlights included both the Louisiana and Northern Water-thrushes.

Day 6 - 08:15 drive to Puerto Viejo area with stop at Cahuita NP for monkeys, sloths, etc. Sighted in the park was a Bright-rumped Attila, sitting calmly in a tree right by the main path along the beach. In the early afternoon, some of our group made the 45 minute uphill hike to the Kekoldi raptor tower, arriving at about 13:30. Once in the tower we were treated to an unbelievable flight of thousands of migrating Short-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures with a few other raptors such as Broad-winged Hawks and Peregrine for 2 solid hours!!

Day 7- in the early morning we hiked back through the pastures and to the old growth forest. New birds on this day included Paltry Tyrannulet, along with a nice recap of many of the species we’d seen thus far.

Day 8 - Breakfast, final packing for return to San Jose. Tried birding along the way but got rained out. Mud slide on highway caused a 2 hour delay.

Day 9 - Departure from Costa Rica.

For more information about the International Association of Conservation Landowners, please contact Joe Franke at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about Selva Bananito, please see:

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Cerro Lodge Information: (506) 8391-15-60 or (5066) 8871-35-23 E-mail:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Species seen 

  • Great Tinamou Tinamus major
  • Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui
  • Gray-headed Chachalaca Ortalis cinereiceps
  • Great Egret Ardea alba
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula
  • Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius pond below restaurant
  • Green Ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis seen at dusk in flight
  • Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
  • Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  • King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa 3 adults flying and perched, photos by Dave
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus all migrating
  • White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus
  • Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus perched, black vertical throat line seen well
  • Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea diving on Black Hawk-Eagle
  • Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii rounded tail w/ large white terminal band seen well
  • White Hawk Leucopternis albicolis perched in primary forest, photos by Jim
  • Gray Hawk Buteo nitidus see Note 1 below
  • Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga subadult, photos by Dave
  • Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris
  • Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
  • Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle Spizastur melanoleucus adult in flight seen by Jim
  • Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus
  • Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans
  • Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis adult in flight seen by Jim
  • White-throated Crake Laterallus albigularis
  • Purple Gallinule Porphyrula martinica lodge wetland
  • Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa lodge wetland
  • Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca single bird in river
  • Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
  • Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis
  • Short-billed Pigeon Columba nigrirostris
  • Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti
  • Gray-chested Dove Leptotila cassini nest w/ 2 young between cabins, photos by several
  • Brown-hooded Parrot Pionopsitta haematolis
  • Blue-headed Parrot Pionus mestruus
  • White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis
  • Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis
  • Mealy Parrot Amazona farinose
  • Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana
  • Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris
  • Barn Owl Tyto alba single bird next to Mattsson's cabana in full daylight,

photos by Dave

  • Vermiculated Screech-Owl Otus guatemalae heard around cabanas
  • Spectacled Owl Pulsatri perspicillata heard around cabanas
  • Central Amer. Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium griseiceps heard around cabanas
  • Short-tailed Nighthawk Lurocalis semitorquatus in flight over pasture adjacent to primary forest
  • Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
  • White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
  • Vaux’s Swift Chaetura vauxi
  • Gray-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris
  • Band-tailed Barbthroat Threnetes ruckeri seen by guide Allan
  • Long-billed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris
  • Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis longuemareus
  • White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacati
  • Purple-crowned Fairy Heliothry barroti seen by guide Allan
  • Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus
  • Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena
  • Lattice-tailed Trogon Trogon clathratus adult female
  • Rufous Motmot Baryphthengus martii
  • Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum single adult in primary forest, perched and vocalizing
  • Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata
  • Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
  • White-necked Puffbird Notharchus macrorhynchos single seen by entire group
  • Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus
  • Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus
  • Chestnut-billed Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii
  • Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani
  • Cinnamon Woodpecker Celeus loricatus single seen in pasture
  • Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
  • Plain-brown Woodcreeper Dendrocincla fuliginosa
  • Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus
  • Long-tailed Woodcreeper Deconychura longicauda
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorhynchus spirurus
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii
  • Fasciated Antshrike Cymbilaimus lineatus single seen by Brady
  • Western Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus atrinucha
  • Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quiensis
  • Chestnut-backed Antwren Myrmeciza esul
  • Paltry Tyrannulet Zimmerius vilissimus single seen by Brady
  • Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum
  • Black-headed Tody-Fly. Todirostrum nigriceps
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens
  • Tropical Wood-Pewee Contopus cinereus
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus short-tailed female or juv; casual on Caribbean

(Garrigues 2007)

  • Long-tailed Tyrant Colonia colonus
  • Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer
  • Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus
  • Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
  • Boat-billed Flycatcher Megarhyncus pitangua
  • Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similes
  • Gray-capped Flycatcher Myiozetetes granadensis
  • Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculates pale 1/2 of lower mandible; casual Caribbean slope

(Garrigues (2007)

  • Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus
  • Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus single seen by Jim
  • Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus around lodge
  • Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
  • Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor
  • Snowy Cotinga Carpodectes nitidus
  • Purple-throated Fruitcrow Querula purpurata
  • White-collared Manakin Manacus candei
  • Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
  • Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
  • Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus
  • Brown Jay Cyanocora mono
  • Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
  • Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidoptery ruficollis
  • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • Tawny-faced Gnatwren Microbates cinereiventris
  • Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea
  • Band-backed Wren Campylorhynchus zonatus
  • Bay Wren Thryothorus nigricapillus nest found w/ 2 adults tending
  • House Wren Troglodytes aedon
  • Swainson’s Thrush Catharus ustulatus
  • Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi
  • Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrine
  • Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica
  • Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia seen by Jim
  • Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca seen by Jim and Brady
  • Bay-breasted Warbler Dendroica castanea
  • Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
  • Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis carefully studied at close range
  • Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla carefully studied at close range
  • Wilson’s Warbler Wilsonia pusilla seen by Debra
  • Buff-rumped Warbler Phaeothlypis fulvicauda
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola
  • White-shouldered Tanager Tachyphonus luctuosus female seen by Jim
  • Tawny-crested Tanager Tachyphonus delattrii seen by Brady
  • White-lined Tanager Tachyphonus rufus
  • Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
  • Passerini’s Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii
  • Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus
  • Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum
  • Plain-colored Tanager Tangara inornata
  • Rufous-winged Tanager Tangara lavinia immature and adult male
  • Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata
  • Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana
  • Shining Honeycreeper Cyanerpes lucidus
  • Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacana
  • Variable Seedeater Sporophila americana
  • Thick-billed Seed-Finch Oryzoborus funereus
  • Black-striped Sparrow Arremonops conirostris
  • Buff-throated Saltator Saltator maimus
  • Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps
  • Black-faced Grosbeak Caryothraustes poliogaster single seen by Jim
  • Black-cowled Oriole Icterus dominicensis
  • Baltimore Oriole Icterus glabula
  • Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holocericeus
  • Scarlet-rumped Cacique Cacicus uropygialis
  • Chestnut-headed Oropendola Psarocolius wagleri
  • Montezuma Oropendola Psarocolius Montezuma
  • Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi
  • White-vented Euphonia Euphonia minuta


  • Total bird species recorded on property of Selva Bananito = 155.


  • Additional species seen on day trip to Kekoldi canopy tower near Puerto Viejo*.


  • Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Black Vulture
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
  • Osprey
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus
  • Swainson’s Hawk Buteo swainsoni
  • Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus
  • Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  • Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
  • Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  • White-collared Swift
  • White-collared Manakin
  • Barn Swallow
  • Blue Dacnis

Guides: Justo, Allan, Carlos

Notes: 1. Not shown to occur in Caribbean lowlands in Garrigues. However, Henderson et al. state that it is found in Caribbean lowlands south to Puerto Viejo. Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica by Carrol L. Henderson, Steve Adams, Alexander F. Skutch.


Garrigues, R. and R. Dean (2007) The Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.

Giles, F.G., A.F. Skutch and D. Gardner (1989) A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.


Author: Joe Franke