|# Excl Vagrants*:||127|
|# Near Endemics*:||41|
|*Based on partial or incomplete data.|
|Habitat: Cloud forest, paramo|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
The Talamanca highlands is a higher elevation mastiff paralleling the Continental Divide that represents the backbone of southern Costa Rica and western Panama. The highlands are covered by montane forest and, at higher elevations, treeless paramo. The area is home to a number of high elevation specialty birds as well as such sought after birds as Resplendent Quetzal lower on the mountain's forested slopes. The view from "Death Hill" at mile marker 89 is spectacular, with the Pacific coast visible on clear days and the Caribbean visible on very clear days. Of special interest are higher elevation species such as Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, Timberline Wren, Sooty Robin, and Volcano Junco.
One of the highest peaks at 11,500 ft is Cerro de la Muerte. Cerro de la Muerte (literally, "Mountain of Death") gains its name from brave settlers some one hundred years ago who lost their lives to the extreme cold while crossing the area on the remote trail leading down into El Valle de El General to the south. The mountain is reached via an access road off the main highway that leads up to several radio towers on top of the mountain. Plant's grow luxuriantly even at this altitude, but no high trees are to be found and plant life is stunted because of the harsh conditions. Cerro de la Muerte is one of the best places in the area to see the Volcano Junco, which lives in the scrub vegetation in this treeless area.
LOCATION OF SITE
The Talamanca highlands is reached via the main road (Highway 2) from Cartago to San Isidro. The road is often fairly steep and winding until it reaches the ridgeline, where it tends to flatten out. It's about a 3-hour drive from San Jose. Cerro de la Muerte is an 11,500 ft mountain peak in the highlands reached via a side road off the main highway. The turnoff is about 15 km south of the turnoff to San Gerardo de Dota.