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3 Essential Tips for Better Birding in Costa Rica on a Group Tour

Birding in Costa Rica is a fantastic blend of glittering hummingbirds, colorful tanagers, motmots, trogons, toucans, and more. It's also a fun, dynamic experience made easy by way of good, stable infrastructure and accessible, birdy habitats. Whether birding Costa Rica on your own or in a group, take the right steps and the trip will be fantastic. Since birding in a group has a certain type of dynamic, we thought it would be helpful to mention a few essential tips to help maximize the birding experience on a group tour.

Do More Listening than Talking and Pay Attention to the Guide

At least while birding. On a trip shared with friends to an exciting new place, it's all too easy to get carried away with conversation. There's of course nothing wrong with that but if we constantly talk while birding on quiet forest trails or even in a hotel garden, we won't see as many birds. As with birding anywhere, in Costa Rica, the more quiet and focused a birder is, the more they will see. The guide also needs to listen for various birds to locate them and participants may want to know which species are making which sounds.

Perhaps even more important, carrying on conversations while birding also makes it harder to pay attention to the guide. No matter what size tour, paying close attention to the guide simply translates to seeing more birds. This is because a lot of birds in Costa Rica are forest species or birds with low density populations. Although a good guide will try their best, this often means that many birds give brief and quick looks, are shy and adept at staying hidden, or show up just once or twice during the tour. When a bird appears on the tour, it might just be your only chance to see it. Don't miss lifers by talking or looking at your phone while birding; just save those conversations and phone time for meals and other non-birding moments.

Better to be Early Than Late

Showing up early means more birding time, showing up late for excursions or meals means less birding time for everyone on the tour. Also, the guide probably has a schedule in mind to give everyone on the tour the experience of a lifetime. Show up late and it will probably affect everyone's experience.

An early start might be necessary to see a Turquoise Cotinga...

Don't Wander Off

Many of us enjoy exploring and birding on our own but outside of time specified for that purpose, you just can't really do it on a group tour because it affects other people. During the tour, unless the guide says otherwise, you really have to stick with the group because:

  1. You will probably miss birds found by the guide that won't be possible during other points of the tour.

  2. If you walk ahead on the trail, you might scare shy birds that could have been seen by the group.

  3. You might get lost or hurt.

In general, we could probably sum up tips for better group tours by just reminding people to be considerate and remember that they are sharing a fantastic, life birding experience with others. Keep that in mind and every participant on a group birding tour to Costa Rica will have the trip of a lifetime.

To learn more about how we can help your Audubon group or birding club have a fantastic, easy birding trip to Costa Rica, send us an email. Until then, happy birding!


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