Las Cruces Biological Station
Organization for Tropical Studies
(check bird list)
Just outside of the town of San Vito lays Las Cruces Station which protects over 300 hectares of middle elevation forest.
Within this area you find as well the Wilson Botanical Garden which began in the 1960s and contains more than 1000 species of plants.
A great part of the garden are the bromeliads, orchids, bamboos, and heliconias, as well as the world´s second largest botanical collection of palms.
Las Cruces is certainly a great spot for birding, usually two nights should be enough unless you plan to do some further exploration
into Las Tablas Protected Zone on the slopes of La Amistad, perhaps visit La Amistad Lodge and Las Alturas.
Las Cruces Station offers nice clean and comfortable rooms and the cafeteria offers good food.
When birding around the garden you could run into species such Blue-headed Parrot, Streaked Saltator, Fiery-billed Aracari,
Rufous-breasted Wren, Long-billed Starthroat, Crested Oropendola, Thick-billed Euphonia, Spot-crowned Euphonia,
White-tailed Emerald, Garden Emerald, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, and even the spectacular Turquoise Cotinga.
Feeders near the dining hall offer chances for Speckled Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis,
Blue-crowned Motmot, just to mention a few. Checking around at night you find Mottled Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl,
and Vermiculated Screech-Owl. It might be worth checking out their vocalizations before you visit Las Cruces,
so you will be ready to locate them and know what they are.
Tree Fern Hill in the garden is quite good for Gray-headed Tanager, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush,
Red-faced Spinetail, Buff-throated Foliage Gleaner. In terms of trails you can spend a good time in the
Rio Java Trail that leads into the forest of Las Cruces. It is flat and wide which allows you to concentrate
on the birding. The are other 5 trails in the property can also be productive but you might find Java River Trail
to have plenty of bird activity. If you run into a mixed flock expect to see Slaty Antwren, Plain Antvireo,
Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Spotted Woodcreeper, Slate-throated Redstart, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager.
Some other species include the interesting looking Brown-billed Scythebill which might join mixed flocks sometimes,
however working its way alone most of the time. Be ready for a Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher,
Rose-throated Becard, Marbled Wood-Quail, the secretive Scaly-breasted Wren, Black-faced Antthrush.
A Barred Forest-Falcon might also be ready to strike at little birds in the mixed flocks.
Melissa´s Meadow Trail might produce Pale-breasted Spinetail, Bran-colored Flycatcher,
Orange-collared Manakin and even the quite local (although expanding its range) Masked Yellowthroat.
Exploring some areas outside Las Cruces is a good idea. The San Joaquín Marsh between
San Vito y Sabalito is quite productive, especially in the dry season because birds tend to concentrate
around the remaining water holes. Some birds include Masked Yellowthroat in the grasses, Northern Jacana,
Common Moorhen, Masked Duck, Purple Gallinule, and sometimes even Wattled Jacana and Ring-necked Duck.
If you plan to extend your stay in the area going to Las Alturas might be quite productive, its combination
of open land and a great extension of preserved forest can yield species like Black-and-White Hawk Eagle,
Ornate Hawk Eagle, Solitary Eagle, Three-watlled Bellbird, Turquoise Cotinga, Pheasant Cuckoo, White-crested Coqutte,
Ochre-breasted Antpitta, White-winged Tanager, and Blue Seedeater.