The loud calls of a Stripe-breasted Wren issue from the dense understory of rainforest dripping with moss and moisture. It’s hard to see but with patience, there it is and it’s with a mixed flock that has Streak-crowned Antvireo, antwrens, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, and Tawny-faced Gnatwrens that flit and chatter from the undergrowth. High in the canopy of that same mature forest, binoculars reveal the colors of striking Black-and-Yellow Tanagers as they call and move through the treetops. Beautiful Emerald, Speckled, Bay-headed, and Silver-throated Tanagers join them in a mixed flock that has several other species of this rich foothill rainforest ecosystem. Careful viewing of the flock eventually reveals other key species like Striped Woodhaunter, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, and a pair of noisy Scarlet-rumped Caciques. This is just a hint of the exciting birding found at Quebrada Gonzalez in Braulio Carrillo National Park.
Braulio Carrillo National Park is one of the largest and most important national parks in Costa Rica. It protects a large area of tropical forest extending from high elevations on Barva and Irazu Volcanoes to middle, foothill, and some lowland elevations on the Caribbean slope and thus acts as a corridor for various species that migrate between high and lower elevations. Although the national park has few access points, one of those spots is also one of the more exciting, if challenging, birding sites in Costa Rica, the Quebrada Gonzalez Ranger Station.
This site boasts well maintained trails through excellent primary foothill rainforest that can host a variety of uncommon and rare species difficult to see at other sites. These are some of the other benefits of visiting this special site:
- Located just an hour from the San Jose area, and 45 minutes from La Selva, Quebrada Gonzalez is situated on the main highway between San Jose and Limon.
- Chances at rare birds. The birding at Quebrada is unpredictable in terms of what one might see but most visits turns up at least one or more rare and uncommon species.
- One of the most productive day trips one can do while staying in the San Jose area, eBird Hotspot list.
A day of birding in Costa Rica at Quebrada Gonzalez typically starts with birding near or right in the parking lot of the ranger station. Fruiting trees can attract a variety of tanagers, White-ruffed Manakin, and other birds, mixed flocks can pass by, and a raptor or two might fly overhead. We will keep an eye out for these and other possibilities as well as birds that might be perched in treetops visible from the station.
Upon entering the trail system, we will carefully make our way through the forest to search of any number of species on the ground, in the canopy, and in mixed flocks. Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush occurs and may hop onto the trail along with Buff-rumped Warbler and Orange-billed Sparrow. With luck, we may catch a quick look at Olive-backed Quail-Dove, an uncommon but regular species at this site and other even rarer species are always possible.
As we move along, we may see Emerald Tanager, Tawny-capped Euphonia, and other species but most will be found by locating the mixed flocks that frequent Quebrada Gonzalez. The biggest ones move with White-throated Shrike-tanager so we will be listening for this species to see if we can connect with one or more mega flocks. Such groupings of birds can host several tanagers including large numbers of Carmiol’s and Tawny-crested Tanagers, the rare Blue-and-Gold Tanager and the uncommon Ashy-throated Chlorospingus. Brown-billed Scythebill and other woodcreepers are possible and there’s always a chance that the flock might have a Sharpbill or other rare species.
Other key foothill species we will be watching and listening for include Lattice-tailed Trogon and Yellow-eared Toucanet. With luck, we might even find Bare-necked Umbrellabird or Red-fronted Parrotlet; both are rare but regular at this site. If we hit an antswarm, we have a very good chance at seeing Bicolored, Spotted, and Ocellated Antbirds, and might even find a mega Black-crowned Antpitta and/or Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. Although these last two are very rare, they do show up at Quebrada once in a while. More likely are such raptors as Barred and White Hawks, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and King Vulture.
A day of birding at Quebrada isn’t the easiest type of birding but it offers access to a rare habitat and chances at equally rare birds. Come with us for a day to experience this special, beautiful forest.
$ 175.00 p.p.
Price based on
- Private guide for a full day tour.
- Private transportation
- Entrance fees
We can make arrangements for lodging, transportation, activities, car rental and all the fun you want to have while in Costa Rica.
Our specialty is Custom Made Birding Tours to the best birding destinations in Costa Rica.