Iconic Birds to Photograph

Discover the top 20 iconic birds to photograph in Costa Rica. From vibrant toucans to elusive quetzals, capture stunning images of the most beautiful avian species in this birdwatcher's paradise

Costa Rica is a birdwatcher’s and wildlife photographer’s paradise, home to an incredible diversity of avian species. From vibrant toucans to elusive quetzals, the country offers ample opportunities to capture stunning images of some of the world’s most iconic birds. Here are the top 20 birds that experts recommend photographing during your visit to this Central American gem.

Keel-Billed Toucan

The Keel-Billed Toucan is perhaps the most recognizable bird in Costa Rica, with its massive, colorful beak that resembles the popular Fruit Loops cereal. These charismatic toucans are a common sight in the country’s lush rainforests and can often be spotted perching on tree branches or soaring overhead.

Scarlet Macaw

The vibrant Scarlet Macaw is the largest parrot in the world and a true showstopper. With its striking red, yellow, and blue plumage, this bird is a must-see and must-photograph in places like Carara National Park and the Osa Peninsula.

Resplendent Quetzal

The Resplendent Quetzal is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world, with its iridescent green plumage and long, flowing tail feathers. Spotting this elusive species in the cloud forests of Costa Rica is a true birding and photography highlight.

White-Throated Magpie Jay

The White-Throated Magpie Jay is a large, social, and fearless jay with a striking blue and white plumage. These birds often visit hotels and resorts, making them an easy target for photographers.

Ocellated Antbird

The Ocellated Antbird is a special treat to spot in the rainforests of Costa Rica, with its large blue eye area and scalloped feather pattern creating a unique and captivating appearance.

Turquoise Cotinga

The Turquoise Cotinga is a shy but elegant bird with a neon blue back and head, and a bold magenta throat and belly. This species is found in the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica and is a true gem for photographers.

Jabiru Stork

The Jabiru Stork is an unmistakable large black stork with a featherless head. Though sadly, there are less than 100 individuals left in Costa Rica, this impressive bird is a must-see for any avid birder or photographer.

Great Curassow

The Great Curassow is a large, ground-dwelling bird with distinctive black and white plumage and a tall, curved beak. These birds are often found in the forests of Costa Rica and can make for stunning photographic subjects.

Fiery-Billed Aracari

The Fiery-Billed Aracari is a smaller relative of the toucan, with a bright red and yellow beak that contrasts beautifully with its black and white plumage. These birds are commonly seen in the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica.

Sunbittern

The Sunbittern is a unique and elusive bird with a striking pattern of brown, black, and white feathers that resemble the sun’s rays. Spotting and photographing this species in the wetlands of Costa Rica is a true birding and photography adventure.

Bare-Necked Umbrellabird

The Bare-Necked Umbrellabird is a large, black bird with a distinctive crest and a bare, inflatable throat pouch. These impressive birds are found in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica and are a true highlight for any birder or photographer.

Crested Guan

The Crested Guan is a large, turkey-like bird with a distinctive crest and striking black and white plumage. These birds are often seen in the forests of Costa Rica and can make for excellent photographic subjects.

Montezuma Oropendola

The Montezuma Oropendola is a large, pendulous-tailed bird with striking yellow and black plumage. These birds are known for their unique nesting behavior, building large, hanging nests in the trees of Costa Rica.

Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill is a stunning wading bird with a distinctive spoon-shaped bill and vibrant pink plumage. These birds can be found in the wetlands and estuaries of Costa Rica and are a true delight for photographers.

Magnificent Frigatebird

The Magnificent Frigatebird is a large, graceful seabird with a distinctive hooked beak and a bright red throat pouch. These birds are often seen soaring over the coastal areas of Costa Rica and can make for dramatic photographic subjects.

Scarlet-Rumped Tanager

The Scarlet-Rumped Tanager is a small, brightly colored bird with a vibrant red rump and a black and yellow head. These birds are commonly found in the forests and gardens of Costa Rica and are a favorite among birdwatchers and photographers.

Green Honeycreeper

The Green Honeycreeper is a stunning bird with bright green plumage and a distinctive black mask. These birds are often seen feeding on nectar and can make for excellent photographic subjects in the forests and gardens of Costa Rica.

Emerald Toucanet

The Emerald Toucanet is a smaller relative of the Keel-Billed Toucan, with a more compact and streamlined beak. These birds are found in the cloud forests of Costa Rica and can be a challenge to spot and photograph.

Baird’s Trogon

The Baird’s Trogon is a beautiful bird with a vibrant orange belly and a distinctive black and white head. These birds are often found in the forests of Costa Rica and can make for stunning photographic subjects.

Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird

The Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird is a common and easily recognizable hummingbird species in Costa Rica, with its distinctive rufous tail and iridescent green plumage. These tiny birds are a favorite among photographers and can often be found visiting flowering plants and feeders.

These 20 iconic birds represent just a small fraction of the incredible avian diversity that Costa Rica has to offer.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a passionate wildlife photographer, these species are sure to captivate and inspire you during your visit to this remarkable country.

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