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Clay-colored thrush, the national bird of Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica is a small country, it is in the bird-rich neotropical region and has a huge number of species for its area. The official bird list published by the Costa Rican Rare Birds and Records Committee of the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica (AOCR) contains 921 species as of January 2018.[1] This number is more than have been recorded in all of the United States and Canada combined. Of those species, seven are endemic (three of which are found only on Cocos Island), 66 are rare or accidental, and four have been introduced by humans. Another 73 are near-endemic with ranges that include only Costa Rica and Panama. Twenty-three species, including five of the seven endemics, are globally vulnerable or endangered.[2] Over an area of 51,100 km2, an area smaller than West Virginia, this is the greatest density of bird species of any continental American country. About 600 species are resident, with most of the other regular visitors being winter migrants from North America. A "split" and a "lump" announced in July 2018 add one near-endemic species.

Costa Rica's geological formation played a large role in the diversification of avian species. North America and South America were initially separate continents, but millions of years of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions eventually fused the two continents together. When this happened, species from the north and south poured into the land bridge that became Central America. Birds like the hummingbird came from the south, while birds like the jay came from the north.[3]

Part of the diversity stems from the wide array of habitats, which include mangrove swamps along the Pacific coast, the wet Caribbean coastal plain in the northeast, dry northern Pacific lowlands, and multiple mountain chains that form the spine of the country and rise as high as 3,500 m. These mountain chains, the largest of which is the Cordillera de Talamanca, form a geographical barrier that has enabled closely related but different species to develop on either side of the chain. A good example of this speciation is the white-collared manakin of the Caribbean side, which is now distinct from the orange-collared manakin of the Pacific slope.

In the past, higher sea levels left the mountains as highlands, and isolation again led to distinct species developing, with over thirty now endemic to the mountains, especially the Talamanca range which extends from southern Costa Rica into Panama.

This list is presented in the taxonomic sequence of the Check-list of North American Birds, 7th edition through the 59th Supplement, published by the American Ornithological Society (AOS).[4][5] Common and scientific names are also those of the Check-list.

Unless otherwise noted, all species on the list are considered to occur regularly in Costa Rica as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following tags have been used to highlight certain categories of occurrence:

  • (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Costa Rica
  • (R?) Residence uncertain - a species which might be resident
  • (E) Endemic - a species endemic to Costa Rica
  • (E-R) Regional endemic - a species found only in Costa Rica and Panama
  • (I) Introduced - a species introduced to Costa Rica as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions



Great tinamou

Order: Tinamiformes   Family: Tinamidae

Ducks, geese, and waterfowlEdit

Black-bellied whistling-duck

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

Guans, chachalacas, and curassowsEdit

Gray-headed chachalaca

Order: Galliformes   Family: Cracidae

New World quailEdit

Buffy-crowned wood-partridge

Order: Galliformes   Family: Odontophoridae


Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Pigeons and dovesEdit

Band-tailed pigeon
Pale-vented pigeon

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Cuckoos and anisEdit

Groove-billed ani

Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

Nightjars and alliesEdit

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae


Order: Steatornithiformes   Family: Steatornithidae


Common potoo

Order: Nyctibiiformes   Family: Nyctibiidae


Order: Apodiformes   Family: Apodidae


Female gray-tailed mountain-gem
Male coppery-headed emerald, one of Costa Rica's endemics.
Female green-crowned brilliant
Male volcano hummingbird

Order: Apodiformes   Family: Trochilidae

Rails, gallinules, and cootsEdit

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Heliornithidae


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Aramidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Burhinidae

Stilts and avocetsEdit

Black-necked stilt

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Haematopodidae

Plovers and lapwingsEdit

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Jacanidae

Sandpipers and alliesEdit

Long-billed dowitcher
Western sandpiper
Spotted sandpiper

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Skuas and jaegersEdit

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

Gulls, terns, and skimmersEdit

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae



Order: Eurypygiformes   Family: Eurypygidae


Order: Phaethontiformes   Family: Phaethontidae


Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Diomedeidae

Southern storm-petrelsEdit

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Oceanitidae

Northern storm-petrelsEdit

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Hydrobatidae

Petrels and shearwatersEdit

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae


Wood stork

Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae


Magnificent frigatebird

Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

Boobies and gannetsEdit

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae


Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae


Order: Suliformes   Family: Anhingidae


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

Bitterns, herons, and egretsEdit

Boat-billed heron

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

Ibises and spoonbillsEdit

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

New World vulturesEdit

Black vulture

Order: Cathartiformes   Family: Cathartidae


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

Hawks, eagles, and kitesEdit

Swallow-tailed kite
Gray-lined hawk

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae


Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn owl, Tyto alba

Typical owlsEdit

Black-and-white owl

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

Trogons and quetzalsEdit

Black-throated trogon

Order: Trogoniformes   Family: Trogonidae


Lesson's motmot

Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Momotidae


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae


Order: Piciformes   Family: Bucconidae


Order: Piciformes   Family: Galbulidae

New World barbetsEdit

Order: Piciformes   Family: Capitonidae


Order: Piciformes   Family: Semnornithidae


Northern emerald-toucanet

Order: Piciformes   Family: Ramphastidae


Black-cheeked woodpecker

Order: Piciformes   Family: Picidae

Falcons and caracarasEdit

Crested caracara

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

New World and African parrotsEdit

Scarlet macaw

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittacidae

Typical antbirdsEdit

Bicolored antbird

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Thamnophilidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Conopophagidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Grallariidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Rhinocryptidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Formicariidae

Ovenbirds and woodcreepersEdit

Streaked xenops
Spot-crowned woodcreeper

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Furnariidae


Orange-collared manakin

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Pipridae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cotingidae

Tityras and alliesEdit

Cinnamon becard

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tityridae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Oxyruncidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Onychorhynchidae

Tyrant flycatchersEdit

Common tody-flycatcher
Dusky-capped flycatcher

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Tyrannidae


Rufous-browed peppershrike

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vireonidae

Crows, jays, and magpiesEdit

White-throated magpie-jay

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae


Mangrove swallow

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae


Bay wren

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Troglodytidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Polioptilidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cinclidae

Thrushes and alliesEdit

Sooty robin

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Turdidae

Mockingbirds and thrashersEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mimidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bombycillidae


Long-tailed silky-flycatcher

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Ptiliogonatidae

Waxbills and alliesEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Estrildidae

Old World sparrowsEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

Wagtails and pipitsEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae

Finches, euphonias, and alliesEdit

Thick-billed euphonia

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Fringillidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Rhodinocichlidae

New World sparrowsEdit

Rufous-collared sparrow

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passerellidae


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Zeledoniidae

Yellow-breasted chatEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteriidae

Troupials and alliesEdit

Great-tailed grackle
Montezuma oropendola

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Icteridae


Tropical parula
Bay-breasted warbler
Hooded warbler

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Parulidae

Microspingid tanagersEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Mitrospingidae

Cardinals and alliesEdit

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cardinalidae

Tanagers and alliesEdit

Blue-gray tanager
Crimson-collared tanager
Blue dacnis
Green honeycreeper
Variable seedeater
Slaty flowerpiercer

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Thraupidae


  1. ^ This species was split from buff-throated foliage-gleaner in the 59th Check-list supplement
  2. ^ The 59th Check-list supplement lumped Cherrie's tanager into this species.


  1. ^ Garrigues, Richard., M. Araya-Salas, P. Camacho-Varela, M. Montoya, G. Obando-Calderón, O. Ramírez-Alán.. Enero 2018. Boletín de la Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica. San José, Costa Rica. retrieved 15 March 2018
  2. ^ The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1 <>. Accessed 6 August 2017
  3. ^ Stater, Adam. "Avian Diversity in Costa Rica".
  4. ^ American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  5. ^ R. Terry Chesser, Kevin J. Burns, Carla Cicero, Jon L. Dunn, Andrew W. Kratter, Irby J. Lovette, Pamela C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., Douglas F. Stotz, Benjamin M. Winger, and Kevin Winker. "Fifty-ninth supplement to the American Ornithological Society’s Check-list of North American Birds". The Auk 2018, vol. 135:798-813 retrieved 16 July 2018

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit