The sea suddenly boils up with a seething ball of silvery jackfish.
Brown pelicans, soaring gracefully overhead in a V formation, break apart and dive-bomb into the water.
They shoot down beak-first with such speed we wonder they don’t knock themselves out!
Birds of Costa Rica
Pelicans are some of the most interesting birds of Costa Rica.
They may not be the most beautiful – that honor should probably go to the resplendent quetzal (we’ll get to that beauty in a sec).
But these pelicans are fascinating to watch.
Uttering whoops of excitement, a couple of fishermen who are also watching this strange scene, dash into the water, toss their lines in – and within the space of a few minutes, haul out four big jackfish.
Costa Rica bird-watching
Dive-bombing pelicans are just one of the many species of birds in Costa Rica we marvel at on our adventure UnCruise from Costa Rica to Panama.
Costa Rica is home to more than 850 bird species – and birders go gaga spotting all the different birds found here.
Here are some of the Costa Rica birds you might see.
If you love birds, these photos may whet your appetite to go see them in the wild for yourself…
Brown pelicans are among the more common birds of Costa Rica;.
They’re spotted year-round on the Pacific coast, especially on the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste.
They’re often seen flying elegantly in line or a V formation.
Large and stocky seabirds, they have long necks and wings and giant bills with a large pouch of skin.
They feed by plunging into the sea to scoop up fish and water into the underside pouch of the bill.
After straining the water out, they tip their head back and swallow the fish.
Where to stay in Guanacaste? Before our cruise, we stayed in a gorgeous condo on Costa Rica’s secret Papagayo Peninsula
This is the bird that everyone wants to see. But few do as, sadly, it’s endangered.
Considered sacred by the Aztecs, the resplendent quetzal dazzles in brilliant colors of scarlet and teal, boasting two extraordinarily long tail feathers.
Part of the trogon family of medium-sized birds, these gorgeous Costa Rica birds can be found in Arenal Volcano National Park and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Recommended reading: See sloths, spiders and snakes on a tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges!
Did you know vultures are endangered? Learn why wild vultures must be fed in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Any Costa Rica birding buffs out there who know exactly what this bird is?
Mangrove black hawk
Birds of Costa Rica checklist
See here for a “Birds of Costa Rica” checklist showing the birds officially listed by the Ornithological Association of Costa Rica. (There are lots of them!)
About the Cost Rica bird photography here
All these bird photos (except the quetzal and lead image) were taken by Richard Hall Patterson. Thanks Richard!
On several hikes on our Costa Rica trip, we were in the same small group with Richard, a fellow guest and photography buff. He gamely lugged his Nikon D3S with Tamron 15-600 mm zoom lens along with him – a necessity if you want to take any decent Costa Rica bird photos, we discovered when reviewing our little Sony’s photos.
And birders: Take note!
If you go to Costa Rica for the birds, be prepared to look up, waaaaaay up, to spot them.
Somehow, we expected them to be flying around at face level. Guess we’ve been spoiled by watching too many National Geographic shows…
Those toucans like to hide.
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Photo credits: If you want to use any of Richard Patterson’s photos, please give him photo credit. And he’d love it if you made a small donation to a worthy wildlife cause of your choice.