La Selva Biological Station (Organization for Tropical Studies)
Perhaps the most visited location in what has been recently described as the Costa Rican Bird Route, La Selva offers fantastic birding and great
wildlife observation. The station is surrounded by a great number of habitats including primary rainforest, secondary rainforest, gallery forest,
rivers and creeks, disturbed areas and areas in natural regeneration.
La Selva has been a pioneer site in Education, Research, Conservation and Eco-tourism in Costa
Rica since 1953 and one of the first private protected areas in the country.
The preserve of the OTS is situated at the confluence of two major rivers in the Caribbean lowlands of
northern Costa Rica, comprises 1,600 hectares (3,900 acres) of tropical wet forests and disturbed lands.
It averages 4 meters (over 13 feet) of rainfall that is spread rather evenly throughout the year.
The Station is bordered on the south by Braulio Carrillo National Park, which contains more than
46,000 hectares of forest land and is the core conservation unit of the 91,000-hectares Cordillera Volcánica Central Biosphere Reserve.
If you plan a visit La Selva and are travelling without the services of a full time birding guide you can be sure that walks here are
excellent and the OTS English / Spanish speaking guides are knowledgeable not only about birds, but also plants, insects, mammals, reptiles,
and amphibians and many aspects of their natural history.
Birding in Selva Verde Lodge:
This tropical lodge is found right on the side of the Sarapiquí River and offers very good birding in
the gardens and woods the surround the facilities. The forest across the river is also a good area to explore.
Common birds in the grounds of Selva Verde include Violaceous Trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Keel-billed Toucan,
Collared Aracari, White-necked Puffbird, Snowy Cotinga, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Northern Barred-Woodcreeper,
Ringed Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Sunbittern, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Buff-rumped Warbler,
and Gray-necked Wood-Rail.
Braulio Carrillo National Park:
With a short drive you can reach Quebrada Gonzalez in Braulio Carrillo National Park.
This location offers a different habitat for you to explore as it is found on the foothills
of the Central Volcanic Range right before you drop into the Caribbean Lowlands. The type of forest
and higher rain averages produce a magnificent mixed of birds including Dull-mantled Antbird,
Ocellated Antbird, Black-crowned Antpitta, Spotted Barbtail, White-whiskered Puffbird, Tawny-crested Tanager,
Blue-and-Gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager, Ornate Hawk-Eagle. Some other specialties that
can occasionally show up in these trails are Laceolated Monklet, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Sharpbill,
Rufous-fronted Wood-Quail, Red-fronted Parrolet, Crested Eagle, and Gray-headed Piprites.
Boat trip in the Sarapiquí River:
This slow flowing river offers the chance to see species like Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Sunbittern,
Green Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Amazon Kingfisher, and the interesting Sungrebe which swims along
the edge usually covered by the overhanging branches.
La Tirimbina Rainforest:
Birding is quite good in La Tirimbina and it offers good trails in the forest. The hanging bridge across the Sarapiqui River is wonderful,
it is the longest in the area and allows you to explore the nearby canopy as well as the rocky river bed and sides. This place is best explore
by staying in the Sarapiquis Neotropical Center and a little more basic but also nice the lodging facilities of La Tirimbina.
Day visits can be arranged. Birds include Spotted Antbird, Ocellated Antbird, Bicolored Antbird, Chestnut-backed Antbird,
Song Wren, White-fronted Nunbird, Rufous Motmot, Bay Wren, Northern Barred Woodcreeper and many more.
All these areas out of La Selva are better explored with a guide, let us know we will be happy to arrange transport and
professional guiding services. Tropical Feathers can also arrange your lodging and services to explore Sarapiquí.
Specialties of the Sarapiqui Lowlands and Braulio Carrillo National Park
- mostly around heliconias, good places to see it in La Selva and Selva Verde Lodge.
- Common in the area of Sarapiqui, a lot of times associated with mixed flocks.
- it can be found perching pretty much in any location in the Sarapiqui Lowlands. Typical sightings around La Selva Biological Station.
- Found in the trails of La Selva and La Tirimbina, usually moving up in the canopy and located by its call.
- Common in the area, found in the road that access La Selva as well as in the trails. Perches high in exposed branches.
- Easy to find in the whole area, perches in little twigs at all levels. Easy to find in the open areas of La Selva Biological Station.
- quite common in the area, usually perches high and it can be located by its distinctive call. However it also drops to the short melastome fruiting trees around the station.
- really small flycatcher common to the mid and high levels of canopy in primary rainforest and occasionally secondary rainforest. La Selva and La Tirimbina are the best places to see it.
- usually up in the high canopy with occasional drops to mid levels. Often located by its soft call, requires patience to see it.
Western Slaty Antshrike
- often located first by its call, found mostly in the primary forest trails.
e - found on second growth and thickets.
- often heard and seen on the forest edge, typical around the station and on the Zompopa and Arriera Trail.
- Perhaps the two best spots in the area are La Tirimbina Rainforest and Braulio Carrillo National Park.
- The best chances to see this beautiful wren is in the forest of La Tirimbina
- found most of the time in thickets, dense patches of heliconias and occasionally wondering out into gardens.
- found on the second growth and forest edge of La Selva, Selva Verde Lodge and La Tirimbina.
- small tanager usually found all throughout the area in small flocks, found on forest edge, open areas, easy to see in La Selva and La Tirimbina.
- Best places to see it are La Selva, Tirimbina and Quebrada Gonzalez, found on undergrowth in small groups.
Rufous-winged Tanager, Blue-and-Gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, and Black-and-Yellow Tanager
- common mixed flock tanagers at Quebrada Gonzalez in Braulio Carrillo
-This is a very local bird, mostly found on marshy pastures.
- found mostly on the road to access La Selva Station and along the Arrieras and Zompopa Trail. A few individuals.
- found in marshes, wet pastures, and flooded woodlands.
- Typical hawk found in the primary rainforest and also on the forest edge, can be seen in La Selva, La Tirimbina, and Selva Verde Lodge.
- found along the Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo Rivers, in occasions it can be spotted from La Selva's Stone Bridge.
- to be looked for in the primary forest of La Selva and La Tirimbina, also frequent sightings in Quebrada Gonzalez in Braulio Carrillo National Park.
Great Green Macaw
- it has become a typical sighting in La Selva. They fly over the station usually in the early mornings and late afternoons. Also found in the trails as they feed on the Tropical Almond Tree.
- common areas for day roosts are usually located by guides within La Selva. Night walks in La Selva are quite productive to find this owl.
- usually roosts in large trees, it is hard to find but guides in the different locations usually know if there are any accessible roosts to observe this interesting looking bird. Frequently heard at night near the station of the river in La Selva. This nyctibius likes prefers gallery forest.
- typically seen at dusk, often around the road to access La Selva Station, around the cafeteria, or from the Stone Bridge. Also seen from the bridge in La Tirimbina.