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Nicoya Peninsula: Birding one of the Blue zones of the world

By: Sergio Arias.

Very well known because of its pristine and famous beaches, the Nicoya Peninsula it by itself a beach lovers destination, the land of the eternal sunsets. Also recent international studies added Nicoya to the list of the Blue Zones of the World, as one of the sites where people have longer life, compared to the average of the world, a very special condition related to the local life style, diet and nature. But also now Nicoya is becoming one of the top birding hotspots of Costa Rica, combining exceptional accommodations, great guides and of course easy birding for stunning and rare species.

double striped thick knee

Double-striped thick-knee

Not many people in the world have been privileged to bird one of the Blue zones of the wold in the Dry Forest of Costa Rica, famous country, home to more than 900 species of birds and the 5% of the biodiversity of the world, and now Nicoya is calling to all the bird lovers.

three watted bellbird 1 (2)

Three-wattled bell bird


The North Pacific is the driest side of Costa Rica and the last part of the Mesoamerican dry forest. The dry season last here over 6 months. In the surroundings of the Nicoya Gulf and basin of Tempisque rivers, the lands is plain, broken in some areas by limestone hills.  The natural flora of the region is mainly deciduous forest, in the bottom of the rivers the forest is evergreen.

Lesser ground cuckoo

Lesser ground cuckoo

More than 300 species of birds have been recorded in the area and the surroundings of Tango Mar Hotel, the best property to experience the rich birdlife of the Peninsula and its dry forest and wet lands home to some of the very specials to Costa Rica including: Double-stripe thick knee, Three-wattled bellbird, Elegant trogon, Long-tailed manakin, Mangrove hummingbird, Striped cuckoo, Plain chachalaca, Mangrove vireo, Plain-capped starthroat and Yellow-nape parrot.

Banded wren

Banded wren

In a single day birding in the are it is easy to get a big list (80 or more) of birds in the hotel and Tango Mar Reserve grounds, but by visiting some additional protected areas in the region, the check list goes bigger. Two super local birding spots in the are are: Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve & Curu Wildlife Refuge (Also called the second Manuel Antonio of Costa Rica).

White-fronted parrot

White-fronted parrot



List of the main species of the Nicoya Peninsula recorded at the Tango Mar Reserve

1 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis/R
2 Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata/R
3 Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula/R
4 Great Curassow

Crax rubra/R

5 Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus/R
6 Wood Stork Mycteria americana/R,M
7 Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens/R
8 Brown Booby Sula leucogaster/R
9 Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus/R
10 Anhinga Anhinga anhinga/R
11 Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis/R
12 Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum/R
13 Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias/M
14 Great Egret Ardea alba/R,M
15 Snowy Egret Egretta thula/R,M
16 Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea/R,M
17 Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor/R,M
18 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis/R,M
19 Green Heron Butorides virescens/R,M
20 White Ibis Eudocimus albus/R
21 Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja/R
22 Black Vulture Coragyps atratus/R
23 Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura/R,M
24 Osprey Pandion haliaetus/M
25 White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus/R
26 Common Black-Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus/R
27 Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris/R
28 Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus/M
29 Gray Hawk Buteo plagiatus/R
30 Crane Hawk Gerasnospiza caerulescens
31 Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus/R,M
32 Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis
33 Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajaneus/R
34 Double-striped Thick-Knee Burhinus bistriatus/R
35 Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa/R
36 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius/M
37 Willet Tringa semipalmata/M
38 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus/M
39 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres/M
40 Black Noddy Anous minutus/R
41 Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus/M
42 Red-billed Pigeon Patagioenas flavirostris/R
43 White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica/R,M
44 Inca Dove Columbina inca/R
45 Common Ground Dove Columbina paserina
46 Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti/R
47 White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi/R
48 Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana/R
49 Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor/R?,M
50 Striped Cuckoo Tapera naevia/R
51 Lesser Ground-Cuckoo Morococcyx erythropygus/R
52 Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris/R
53 Pacific Screech-Owl Megascops cooperi/R
54 Barn-Owl Tyto alba/R
55 Spectacled Owl Pulsatrix perspicillata/R
56 Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis/R
57 White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris/R
58 Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis/R
59 Green-breasted Mango Anthracothorax prevostii/R
60 Plain-capped Starthroat Heliomaster constantii/R
61 Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris/M
62 Canivet’s Emerald Chlorostilbon canivetii/R
63 Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii/R
64 Steely-vented Hummingbird Amazilia saucerrottei/R
65 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl/R
66 Cinnamon Hummingbird Amazilia rutila/R
67 Blue-throated Goldentail Hylocharis eliciae/R
68 Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus/R
69 Gartered Trogon Trogon caligatus/R
70 Elegant Trogon Trogon elegans/R
71 Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota/R
72 Turquoise-browed Motmot Eumomota superciliosa/R
73 Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquatus/R
74 Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana/R
75 White-necked Puffbird Notharchus hyperrhynchus/R
76 Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus/R
77 Hoffmann’s Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii/R
78 Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus/R
79 Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis/R
80 Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway/R
81 Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima/R
82 Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans/R
83 Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus/M
84 Orange-fronted Parakeet Aratinga canicularis/R
85 Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis/R
86 White-fronted Parrot Amazona albifrons/R
87 Crimson fronted Parakeet Psittacara finschi
88 Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis/R
89 Yellow-naped Parrot Amazona auropalliata/R
90 Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus/R
91 Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus/R
92 Ruddy Woodcreeper Dendrocincla homochroa/R
93 Northern-barred Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae/R
94 Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster/R
95 Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souleyetii/R
96 Nutting’s Flycatcher Myiarchus nuttingi/R
97 Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus/R
98 Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis/R
99 Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus/R,RR,M
100 Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus/R
101 Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus/M
102 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus/M
103 Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata/R
104 Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae/R
105 Three-wattled Bellbird Procnias tricarunculatus/R-END
106 Long-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia linearis/R
107 Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons/M
108 Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus/M
109 Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus/R
110 White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa/R
111 Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera/M
112 Blue-and-white Swallow Pygochelidon cyanoleuca/R,M
113 Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis/R,M
114 House Wren Troglodytes aedon/R
115 Rufous-naped Wren Campylorhynchus rufinucha/R
116 Banded Wren Thryophilus pleurostictus/R
117 Plain Wren Cantorchilus modestus/R
118 White-lored Gnatcatcher Polioptila albiloris/R
119 Clay-colored Thrush Turdus grayi/R
120 Northern Waterthrush Parkesia noveboracensis/M
121 Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia/M
122 Tennessee Warbler Oreothlypis peregrina/M
123 Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas/M
124 Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia/R,M
125 Buff-rumped Warbler Myiothlypis fulvicauda/R
126 Gray-headed Tanager Eucometis  penicillata/R
127 Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus/R
128 Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum/R
129 Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus/R
130 White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola/R
131 Olive Sparrow Arremonops rufivirgatus/R
132 Stripe-headed Sparrow Peucaea ruficauda/R
133 Summer Tanager Piranga rubra/M
134 Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea/R,M
135 Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus/R
136 Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus/R
137 Streak-backed Oriole Icterus pustulatus/R
138 Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula/M
139 Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea/R
140 Scrub Euphonia Euphonia affinis
141 Melodious Blackbird

Dives dives/R

Pack your binoculars and get ready to discover the very best of birding Nicoya Penisula, one of the blue zones of the world and one of the Costa Rica’s Birding Hotspots. 

Photo Credits: Jessy Lopez.