Christmas is a special time of year for birders. Equipped with binoculars, bird guides and checklists, avid birders throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, rain, or maybe even tropical sun, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count. The longest running “Citizen Science survey” in the world, the annual Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on bird population trends. The National Audubon Society of the USA and other organizations use data collected in this wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to assist in conservation efforts.
The Christmas Bird Count began more than 100 years ago on Christmas Day by the U.S. Audubon Society. This year, the 114th annual Christmas Bird Count in the United States is from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5. Costa Rica also participates in the Christmas Bird Count. This year, the count began Dec. 1 at Selva Verde Lodge in Sarapiqui, and ends Jan. 5 at Maquenque near San Carlos, with nine other counts in between at locations around the country.
Last year, the highest number of birds counted in Central America was in Costa Rica. A record number of 417 different bird species, and 12,665 individual birds, were identified in a 24-hour period on Dec. 5, 2012 in the Central Caribbean by Veragua Rainforest. Covering 19 routes, 67 ornithologists, naturalist guides, university students and bird enthusiasts participated in the count.
According to avid Costa Rica birder and blogger, Patrick O’Donnell, local birders rave about the excellent forest filled with lowland bird species at Veragua Rainforest. O’Donnell’s Costa Rica Living and Birding blog provides a wealth of information about birding in Costa Rica.
Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure, located in the Talamanca Mountain Range about an hour inland from Costa Rica’s Caribbean port of Limón, is an area of breathtaking tropical rainforest. It borders the La Amistad (“Friendship”) International Park, the largest nature reserve in Central America. Veragua Rainforest is an excellent one-day tour in the Costa Rica rainforest.
Travel Tip: Download the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide, a full-featured birding field guide for Costa Rica, available on iTunes.
Article by Shannon Farley