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Why Tirimbina for birdwatching?

By Julio Sanchez


dsc_0004  Tirimbina Biological Reserve is located in the tropical rainforest, the most biodiverse ecosystem of birds in the world.
You will only need to walk a few meters to discern the causes of this richness. Tirimbina includes a wide diversity of habitats: primary forest, successional forest and riparian forest, countless streams and the flowing Sarapiquí river. The rainforest is very complex in its structure, from the forest floor or the understory to the canopy level - a range of 30 plus meters constituted of trees and bushes of different sizes. Lianas, bromeliads, orchids and other epiphytes also trap litter, thereby generating microhabitats that can be exploited by highly specialized bird species.
A big fallen tree is a good example of this very dynamic tropical ecosystem: the open space of light to the forest floor allows the colonization of pioneer plants - herbs and shrubs like Melastomaceae, Heliconiaceae, Piperaceae, Cecropiaceae plants, among others, that produce abundant fruits and flowers. These hold communities of frugivorous (fuit-eating) birds such tanagers, manakins and nectar-eaters like hummingbirds.

Forest development is favored by the high temperatures and rainfall that reaches 4500mm per year. Even when rain falls every month, there is a season that triggers the phenology process in plants and largely determines the varying reproductive periods in birds.


dsc_0234 Over 300 bird species have been recorded at Tirimbina, a rich bird fauna constituted by resident and migratory species. The latter stay in the tropics for 6 months and then return to their reproductive areas in the boreal regions of North America. A considerable number of resident species perform seasonal movements in the mid-elevation forest throughout the year, mainly in the Cordillera Volcánica Central (Central Volcanic Mountain Range mainly. These birds are fruit or nectar eaters, and probably the abundance of flowers and fruits in the different elevations during the year is the reason for those movements.

The Reserve is located in the middle of the migratory corridor, affording bird watching of a huge diversity of bird species between September and October actively searching for insects in the foliage or eating fruits and nectar. Among these birds you can find warblers(Parulidae) , vireos (Vireonidae), thrushes(Turdidae), tanagers(Thraupidae), cacique (Icteridae) - birds that virtually fill the forests and gardens of the Reserve. More than 130 resident and migratory species have been recorded in the garden, including the honeycreepers, hummingbirds, orioles and woodcreepers.

One of the most interesting aspects of the reserve is the opportunity to observe families of the most representative endemic species of the Neotropical Region: tinamu, jacamar, woodcreeper, manakin, cotinga, antshrike, toucan, and potoo, among others. A sunset or sunrise walk may catch the Great Tinamu cautiously walking on the trails in search of arthropods or fallen fruit. This bird belongs to a primitive family related to the American ostrich, and the African and Australian cassowary. This shy bird relies on its camouflage to pass unnoticed. Many tropical birds have colorful plumage such tanagers, honeycreepers, trogons, and hummingbirds, inhabiting forest edges or the canopy. The best way to observe them is to find Cecropia or fig trees full of fruits, which assure a high concentration of birds.
In the understory and forest interior, bird watching is a challenge for the watchers, as the dark forest and brownish color with cryptic patterns make observation and identification difficult. Some of the species found here are rare, ecologically specialized to this habitat.
A very interesting group of birds are the manakins. In addition to having striking plumage they form leks, or a group territory, in which males gather to perform their rituals.
It is perhaps most interesting to visualize the relationships between birds and plants, which help to keep the complexity of the rainforest. Many species are frugivorous and act as seed dispersers, thereby helping the forest regenerate itself.
We offer education
programs for
all levels.

Explore the trails and
discover the flora
and fauna of our region.

Research in one of
the most diverse sites
in the world.