Ecotourism — Costa Rica.

For obtaining recordings of these extensive and diverse avifaunas, MIST utilized one family trip to Costa Rica and another by Wildside Birding Tour. We also obtained recordings made independently by Doug Von Gausig and Kevin Easley, and generously provided to us for your use in EnjoyBirds.

As we have stated, for a recordist to impose the kind of silence needed for making good bird recordings on an enthusiastic group of first-time birders, puts him at odds with almost everything else, from roadway traffic to verbal birding ID questions.  We wish here to thank the operators of these tours and their clients for their extreme patience with our frequent requests for silence on these two trips!

Year 2000 Costa Rica Wildside Birding Tour group stops to look in the dry NW countryside at Turquoise-browed Motmot.

NW Costa Rica: dry landscape, many different birds.

The trips to Costa Rica made the following classic birding choices, (for so diverse is the country’s avifauna that it is futile to try to see all of it in two weeks):

  • San Jose plateau — 1000 ft; you arrive and depart from here;
  • Arenal Volcano and Lake — the Caribbean lowlands and foothills;
  • Monteverde — famous cloud forests 4500 ft., where rain hits the ground but actually fell over the eastern slopes; Bosque Nebuosa tours, Hotel Fonda Vela, SkyWalk, deservedly famous;
  • Rio Tarcol, Carara Reserve — Pacific coast, elevation 0 ft. slightly south of Guanacaste;
  • Rancho Naturalista — middle elevation 3300 ft., mountain basin, Caribbean slopes;
  • Crossing Cerro Del Muerte about 11,000 ft elevation on Pan-American Highway. Amazing!
  • Savegre Mountain Lodge — 6900 ft. high on the drier Pacific slope;
  • Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge, Osa Peninsula — unique lowland Pacific fauna.

To understand tropical mainland weather, you must try to comprehend the influence of prevailing winds and of elevation.  The wind ALWAYS blows from the Caribbean to the Pacific, and as it strikes land, it starts out almost as humid as the Caribbean Sea-air : — a dewpoint of between 80 and 85 degrees F.  As air rises, blown upslope, it cools by a process called Adiabatic Cooling, about 6 degrees F. per thousand feet.  As it cools, the Caribbean air quickly hits its dewpoint and condenses as clouds,  Further uplift brings increased condensation and rain.  That is why the wettest places on earth are found on the eastern slopes of long tropical ridges.  Imagine it like a water distillery — it converts Caribbean salt water into distilled rainwater by evaporation, Trade Winds, mountain uplift, and condensed rain.

The opposite effect is found on the western down slope regions — once the air has passed through the uplands, and lost much of its water, its dewpoint falls to approximately 50 degrees F.  As it looses elevation, blowing down toward the Pacific ocean, it warms again, by Adiabatic Warming, but does not gain any water.  So the Pacific coast of much of Costa Rica, especially the North-west Guanacaste area, is very arid—temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees, but dewpoints of 50 to 55 degrees.  These downdrafts thus prevail over arid regions—barrancas, plains, near deserts.  Lots of dry grasses &  cactus!

Next page - Costa Rica 2

The lodge that Liz designed and built, where you experience the rare birds of the Osa Penisnula without walls or fear. Bosque del Rio Tgre, Costa Rica.

Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge, operated by birders
Liz Jones and Abraham Gallo, on the famed
Osa Peninsula, Dos Brazos, Costa Rica.

Click picture to hear Osa morning birds
(large stereo file 600 k).


Sorry we have so few photographs from
these trips; the emphasis was
upon getting sound recordings.