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RANCHO NATURALISTA

green-slate

COSTA RICA
LOCALE

Altitude (m):610
# Species:378
# Excl Vagrants:378
# Endemics:2
# Near Endemics:27
Habitat: Gardens, forest

ABOUT THE BIRDING

Rancho Naturalista has long been known as a top birding destination in Costa Rica. It's 125-acre property is located atop a hill near Turrialba and features landscaped gardens behind the lodge plus a tract of forest that is home to middle-elevation Caribbean slope birds. The forest has rejuvenated over the years and offers good habitat for secondary forest birds. Trails follow the ridgelines and are generally narrow and single-file.

The lodge maintains several hummingbird feeders and pools that attract a nice variety of species. Most famous is the prized Snowcap, which is always present. Rancho Naturalista is the most reliable place to see Snowcaps in Costa Rica. Other hummingbirds of special interest include Green-breasted Mango, Green Thorntail, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, and Purple-crowned Fairy.

Three other specialty birds are found on the property, Purplish-backed Quail-Dove is sometimes heard but not readily seen in the forest. White-crowned Manakin is uncommon but normally seen along forest trails, and Tawny-chested Flycatcher is readily found in the gardens near the lodge.

Two nearby birding sites are regularly visited from Rancho Naturalista. The first is a forested area along the Rio Tuis, which flows between two valleys a few miles from the lodge. The valleys are 500-1000 ft higher in elevation than Rancho Naturalista and attracts some birds not found at lower elevation. Several pairs of Sunbittern nest along the river and are reliably found with the help of a guide. It's possible to see the rare and prized Sharpbill in the forest. Other birds of interest include Red Barbet, Spotted Barbtail, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Tawny-crested Tanager, and Spangle-cheeked Tanager.

The second nearby site is C.A.T.I.E., an agronomy school located near Turrialba. The school campus is about 500 ft lower in elevation than Rancho Naturalista and attracts some lowland birds not found higher up the slope. Notable birds found there include Black-faced Grosbeak, Red-breasted Blackbird, Yellow-crowned Euphonia, and Yellow-throated Euphonia.

LOCATION OF SITE

Rancho Naturalista is located 2½ hours east of San Jose and about ½ hour southeast of Turrialba.

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