Updated: Aug 17, 2019
If you're an experienced Birder, you already know what the Osa has in store: more than 400 species of migratory and resident birds, some critically endangered. Entirely new to birdspotting? Get ready for the incredible sights and sounds ahead.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of being amongst the birdlife in the Southern Osa Peninsula- before, during and after your visit.
Know Before you Go
You'll be encountering birds that are native (or endemic) to our area, but also ones spending time in their winter homes in the forests and coastal mangroves. Visitors from the US might recognize some birds from your own backyards who journey here as the weather gets cold, including Baltimore Orioles, hummingbirds and Thrushes.
Corcovado National Park and surrounding areas encompass the greatest expanse of lowland rainforest remaining in Costa Rica. Ojo del Mar is a well known location for lowland birds - many people come to our beach to bird-spot.
And, of the 30 Osa birds on the IUCN's Red List categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable, 11 species are within 25km of Ojo del Mar, including the Black-cheeked Ant-tanager , the Agami Heron and the Yellow-billed Cotinga.
Getting familiar with the birds you will see around you while you stay here will make your walk to the beach or back to your Cabina even more exciting. Check our papaya trees for resident birds like the Toucan, or the almond trees for Scarlet Macaws.
Check your Checklist. Depending on your approach, you'll need an Osa-specific bird list. (We’ve listed some - for a range of experience levels, formats, and in different languages, at the bottom of the page.) Some great resources:
Cornell University’s eBird app and website, which has a Hotspot Map to help quickly find the best locations for birding. There are two birding hotspots very near us: Carbonera Agricultural Fields (near Escuela Carbonera) and another at Bosque del Cabo - the links provide Bird Checklists (digital and printable) for each.
iNaturalist.org - like the eBird Database - features user-submitted data, images and geotagging. It’s easily browsable, but for creating Life Lists, eBird is more efficient.
The IUCN Database. Of the 30 endangered and vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List, 11 are within 25km of Ojo del Mar, including the Black-cheeked Ant-tanager , the Agami Heron and the Yellow-billed Cotinga. This "saved search" will generate a Map and list of the birds near us. We limited it to the most rare, but using the search filters, you can enlarge the list to include additional birds (including those of least conservation concern, or with different habitats.)
Build your Skills! Birders new to the Osa can benefit from the Cornell Lab for Orthinology's four keys to birdwatching : "Once you’re outside and surrounded by birds, we recommend practicing a four-step approach to identification. First you judge the bird’s size and shape; then look for its main color pattern; take note of its behavior; and factor in what habitat it’s in." They have free online tutorials to help newer Birders practice, and a free Inside Birding video series that walks you through each one.
During Your Visit
Talk to Us! The Southern Osa offers a number of diverse settings - primary rainforest, the coastline and open waters - even pastures and flatlands. Some habitats, like the mangroves (a not-to-miss, crucial habitat for many endangered species) are weather or tide-dependent -and are optimal for birding only at specific times. Let us know what you are interested in seeing so we can help finalize your itinerary.
Talk to Osa Conservation! This nonprofit group works to conserve the biodiversity of the Osa, and hosts visitors to its various research stations. They have a wealth of detailed information on their web site about their efforts to support the birds of the Osa, including reforesting programs, bird counts and other projects.
At Ojo del Mar, we are doing our part to build awareness of - and take joy in - the birds all around us. We ask that you observe ethical birdwatching and wildlife photography practices (like avoiding nests, and very young birds, and limiting the use of bird song apps), and keep the welfare of animals and the environment in mind by leaving nothing but your footprints in the jungle and beaches.
Connect and Share. Perhaps you’ve taken pictures of rare birds, or have a unique perspective?
Despite its biodiversity, our area is "under-birded" - so sharing your visit helps the world see - and hopefully care more about - the remarkable ecosystems here.
Post your pictures to Instagram, and be sure to add plenty of hashtags. (We have a list at the bottom, feel free to copy and paste!) We'd love it if you would tag your #ojodelmar pictures, too!
Write about your visit - whether as a blog, an article or a Facebook post. Here's one example: this wonderful report from Patrick Newcombe, a member of the Youth Maryland (U.S.) Ornithological Society, gives the perspective of a young birder in search of rare and endangered birds.
You can also help add to the Osa Biodiversity Survey at iNaturalist- a naturalist community dedicated to monitoring and cataloging Osa’s flora and fauna providing vital and important species records. iNaturalist is entirely community-driven, so by adding your geo-tagged pictures, you help other birders know about the species they can see, as well as help inventories and counts by researchers. You can also add to our iNaturalist project and help other birders get a sense of our immediate area.
Being on the Osa is an opportunity to observe birds while gaining insight into challenges faced by both birds and their critical habitats. No matter your experience level or how many birds are on your list, you can help encourage the conservation of the Osa's ecosystems by helping build awareness among others.
Let People in on It! Many people don’t know the threats to birds, or the opportunities they have to help them.
Twitchers, Listers and other experienced folks: Use your passion and knowledge - and the examples singing and flying all around us - to share some of the interesting things about birds, and tips on how to observe them. Share your stories and sightings over dinner in the Casa Grande.
New or Casual Birders, and people with a love of the natural world: Ask, and Listen! If you meet a Birder at Ojo del Mar, or are on a hike with a naturalist, ask if you can ask them for tips for spotting, or help identifying birds you have seen or heard. While some Birders are very focused on their journeys and may not wish to be disturbed - this is valuable time for them! - many are very happy to grow the community of bird lovers by talking with you.
Happy Birding! We can't wait to hear about your sightings.
Take a look at our "Maps and Apps" guide for a list of various maps, apps and resources that can be of help in planning your spotting.
Osa Overview from Exotic Birding
Bird Lists and Hotspots specific to the Osa