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3 Surprising Ways Rain is Better for Bird Photography in Costa Rica

Rain and bird photography in Costa Rica. Most bird photographers are looking for a different forecast, one with drier, sunnier weather. We don't blame them, we appreciate sunny weather too but when us local bird photographers in Costa Rica hear about rain, we don't postpone the birding trip. Instead, we charge our batteries, choose our lenses, and head into the field. It might sound like some birding fever dream but it's true, rain, even heavy rains, are some of the best conditions for bird photography, here's why:

Rain Means More Bird Activity

In Costa Rica, rain is expected. The typical rainy season starts in April and ends in December and if you go birding in the mountains and on the Caribbean slope, it can rain all year long. This is normal, it makes for healthy ecosystems, and the birds are adapted to it. With that in mind, maybe it's not so surprising that there is much higher bird activity on rainy days than during sunny weather, especially in light rain and breaks between downpours. When that happen, you better be ready with that camera! Birds can suddenly appear everywhere; toucans moving into view, raptors and other birds perched in the treetops, manakins and tanagers at fruiting trees, hummingbirds, and more.

As Lifer guide and founder Juan Diego Vargas has discovered, rains can also make it easier to find the elusive and mega Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. He found that in times of heavy rain, the cuckoos seems to move around less and stick with one group of army ants for longer periods of time. This behavior can make them easier to find and is also why Juan Diego and other Lifer guides look for and keep track of army ants.

Sheltered Feeders

Better bird activity is good but what about shooting in the rain? What about keeping your camera dry? These are valid concerns but the solutions are easy. When it rains, us local bird photographers don't go hiking through downpours. Instead, we visit key sites where we can shoot fruiting trees, flowering bushes, and feeders from dry, sheltered spots. The action can be nonstop and include everything from colorful toucans such as this Collared Aracari,

to parrots,


and more.

Hummingbird action also picks up and gives us a chance to test our shooting set-ups on birds in flight, on perches, and in different lighting conditions.

Better Lighting

But isn't it dark in the rain? Doesn't lighting suffer? Not necessarily! Yes, it can be a challenge to shoot inside the forest on dark rainy days but even then, with the right set-up, you can still get fantastic results. In feeding situations at the edge of forest, lighting on rainy days is ideal. Colors look fantastic, a bird photographer doesn't have to worry about any of the problems associated with bright, sunny weather, and rain drops lend a dramatic touch.

In Costa Rica, the birding is always exciting but in rainy weather, bird photography can be simply fantastic. To learn more about the benefits of bird photography in Costa Rica, tell us about your target birds and dream species at

We know where to find those special birds and hundreds of other species at our favorite sites for bird photography; the best in Costa Rica.


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