Costa Rica’s Nature and Bird Photo Tour
Costa Rica is one of the top ranking locations in the world for wildlife photography. With over 900 species of birds, many species of mammals which include a fair few species of monkeys and sloths. There are more butterflies species here than the whole of the United States and Canada put together. The lush tropical habitats and spectacular landscapes are replete with leaf and dart-frogs as well as amazing reptiles such as the Emerald Basilisk. Costa Rica is truly a nature photographer’s and birder’s paradise.
Who shot the photos on the left side of this page and in the rest of this website?
Unless noted, all photos on the Tropical Feathers website were taken by Noel and Carlos Ureña while in the field and on tour. Noel and Carlos being brilliant birders, naturalists and photographers will make your photography tour memorable.
Who shot the photos on the right side of this page?
“Our trip to Costa Rica organized according to my personal wish list by Tropical Feathers by Noel and Carlos Ureña was just outstanding. Carlos was able to pick up minute sounds in the rainforest and cloud forest, so we could spot and identify birds. Moreover, his knowledge of the behavior of the birds was beyond expectation, which is of course fantastic for a photographer. Many spectacular moments with birds and mammals outside my wish list occurred too, Costa Rica is amazing.
To get me in the deep forests in my wheelchair requires skills combined with enormous enthusiasm, great persistence and passion (in summary: Carlos) A strong wish was to observe and photograph manakin display behavior, which was very successful, and to see the Resplendent Quetzal, one of the most mystical and beautiful birds on our planet. Twenty years ago I had the first encounter with this vibrantly colored bird and my desire to observe it again was fulfilled and I could even study it over several days. One moment it came even very close and looked at me with its mesmerizing beauty. The story of this encounter is the heart of Chapter 17 in my recently published storybook ‘Limitless life, the power of passion and imagination’. Another image ‘Solitude’ in black and white will be highlighted in my book to be published in October 2019: ‘Beyond Oneness’. Thank you Noel and Carlos for sharing your expertise and friendship!!”
Jan van der Greef,
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018, Winner Black and White.
Making photographic opportunities happen
When we are on a Photography Tour the focus is on photography; your
photography. This means if you need more time to get that perfect shot we make that happen.
If something unscheduled presents itself such as an unexpected light on an unexpected vista then we stop and let that opportunity unfold.
If we see something that may need photographing and you are down the trail we bring that opportunity to your attention.
If that rare bird is posing up a storm, we do everything possible to ensure everyone on the tour has a kick at that can.
Bird photography is one of our most requested tours. There are many ways to be a bird photographer. We tailor our bird photography tours to the needs of the photographer. Some bird photographers will prefer finding their subjects out in the field. This kind of bird photography is a delightful challenge and will take the visiting photographers’ skills to a new levels. It requires patience and great skill and can result in a satisfying collection of bird photographs that will be a wonderful reminder of your time in Costa Rica.
Other photographers will prefer to take advantage of birds that come to feeders which are in a natural settings. There, the patient photographer can wait for that perfect pose in that perfect light. These kinds of feeder arrangements help the nature photographer get that memorable photograph that will be treasured for years to come.
Costa Rica will provide you with sudden, inspiring and breathtaking opportunities for landscape photography. Even if focused on wildlife subjects, many photographers won't be able to resist the unfolding light on a breathtaking vista. From lowland rainforests to sub-alpine paramos, from steamy wetlands to cool highland forests, to say nothing of charming rustic farmland countryside; the possibilities are endless.
While we are happy to take you to the well known photography “hotspots” we also love showing you the out of the way and hidden vistas, the accidental views that only appear if we put ourselves in the way of opportunity. These moments are special and often fill our photography tours with unexpected joy.
For macro photography, the opportunities in Costa Rica can be overwhelming. Colorful insects and arachnids, tiny multi-colored frogs, breathtaking flowers, exotic orchids, leaf patterns and stunning fungi. They can all be photographed in a myriad of ways unique to your vision.
Being photographers, expert birding and naturalist guides ourselves means we have a well practiced eye for where the photographic opportunities are.
As professional birding guides we have time and time again demonstrated a well developed sense of anticipating bird and animal behavior which can get you into the best position before the action starts.
Knowing and understanding the natural habitats and habits of that special animal or bird, where they might frequent and at what times of the day they may appear is the result of thousands of hours of hard won field experience. It all adds up to a unique experience that will keep our guest snapping from early dawn to after dusk.
As a local and 100% owned Costa Rican operation we have the fine grained local insights that will help you enjoy our photogenic country to the fullest.
We love nature photography and being expert birders and naturalists will hopefully make you and your group better tropical nature photographers.
Here's just a tiny sample of our field experience and knowledge that will help you get that shot.
Amazing natural areas combine to produce fantastic photo journeys. In the northern plains portion of the country great locations can be scouted for amazing photography.
Exploring Laguna de Lagarto Lodge (read more) is a must, located in Boca Tapada, This place offers excellent feeder setups that are daily maintained to look fresh and lush, trails and open areas and the famous King Vulture blind. Feeders attract Brown-hooded Parrots, Keel-billed Toucans, tanagers and honeycreepers. Great Green Macaws forage and nest in the area, and Central American Pygmy-Owl is a regular inhabitant and nesting species. With over 400 species recorded, a 100 hectares of virgin rainforest and 169 hectares of reforested land, naturalists, birders and photographers encounter in Laguna de Lagarto a true natural experience.
Arenal Volcano area is another great destination. Arenal Observatory Lodge (read more) offers fantastic grounds for photography, exquisite gardens with lots of bird activity. Great Curassow walk about the grounds, White-nosed Coatis visit the feeding station, Montezuma and Chestnut-headed Oropendolas pose in multiple settings including the feeders. Red-legged, Green and Shinning Honeycreepers, Emerald, Rufous-winged and Bay-headed Tanagers visit feeders and fruiting ficus trees. Other species include Orange-bellied and Gartered Trogons, Crested Guan, Yellow-throated and Keel-billed Toucans, Collared Aracari, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Broad-billed Motmot, Thicket Antpitta and Black-crested Coquette.
Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge (read more) is mostly explored by boat. Herons and egrets pose beautifully, caimans and turtles rest on river banks and logs, kingfishers perch on emerging branches of fallen trees, water mirrors on large drying lagoons concentrating ibises, spoonbills, storks and Jabirus. At night, Great and Common Potoos, Black-and-white and Striped Owls are regular inhabitants along open areas and roads.
La Selva Biological Station (read more) in the northern Caribbean lowlands is a fantastic site. Good trails and open areas around the cafeteria and labs offer great photo opportunities. Tanagers and honeycreepers move through as they forage on Miconia bushes. Snowy Cotinga shows up in high perches at different times of the day,. Motmots and trogons are typically good posers along the trails and borders of forest, White-collared Manakin snaps its wings and feed on fruiting bushes bordering the forest, Great Green Macaws fly overhead and nest nearby, Great Tinamou is commonly found along trails.
Cope’s Feeders (read more) is a great site to visit. José Cope has created fabulous feeders and natural settings around his house, attracting endless numbers of birds and other wildlife. Oropendolas, Scarlet-rumped and Crimson-collared Tanagers, Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Collared Aracari, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Blue-chested Hummingbird, Long-billed Hermit, White-necked Jacobin, Green-breasted Mango, just to mention a few. Helmeted Basilisk, different anoles, sloths, snakes, Honduran White Bats, Spectacled and Crested Owls, and interesting insects can all be found at Cope’s Feeders and adjacent areas. José is always looking for fresh and new photo subjects.
Vara Blanca and Cinchona (read more), not far from La Selva on the slopes of the Central Volcanic Range, provide access to a great assortment of hummingbirds. La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Cinchona Hummingbird Gallery are two spectacular locations offering Black-bellied Hummingbird, Coppery-headed Emerald, White-bellied and Purple-throated Mountain-gems, among many more hummingbirds. Red-headed and Prong-billed Barbets are common and Northern Emerald Toucanet visits feeders.
San Gerardo and Providencia de Dota in the highlands of Talamanca (read more) unfold a magnificent oak cloud forest, full of regional endemic species. Besides the magnificent landscapes, this is a paradise for hummingbirds and other specialties. The spectacular Resplendent Quetzal, the glowing Fiery-throated Hummingbird, White-throated Mountain-gem, Volcano Hummingbird, Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl, Bare-shanked Screech-Owl, Unspotted Saw-Whet Owl, Collared Redstart, Yellow-thighed Finch, Timberline Wren, Volcano Junco are all possible sightings and fantastic photo targets.
Los Cusingos Biological Reserve in The Valley of El General (read more) is a good site, former home of Dr. Alexander F. Skutch. This preserve allows access to Blue-crowned and Red-capped Manakins, Orange-collared Manakin leks, Baird’s Trogon, Speckled Tanager, Fiery-billed Aracari and the elusive Turquoise Cotinga. Banana feeders usually attract Spot-crowned Euphonia, Silver-throated, Gray-headed and Bay-headed Tanagers and Golden-naped Woodpecker. Olivaceous Piculet is a regular inhabitant, sometimes nesting in decaying trees in the gardens.
Esquinas Rainforest Lodge (read more) is a lush natural destination. It sits opposite the Osa Pensinsula, across the Golfo Dulce. The habitat however, is pretty much the same and as a result, have the same wildlife species. Trails and open areas allow for Great Curassow, Charming Hummingbird, Band-tailed Barbthroat, White-tipped Sicklebill, Golden-naped Woodpecker, Baird’s Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Striped Woodhaunter, White-throated Shrike-Tanager, Little Tinamou, Striped Owl, Common Potoo, Crested and Spectacled Owls. Mantled Howler Monkeys, White-faced Capuchins, Granulated Poison-dart Frogs and White-nosed Coatis can also be subjects of photography.
Carara National Park and Tarcoles River (read more) with stay in Cerro Lodge. The tropical dry and rain forests meet in this location. These colliding habitats create an important mix of species. The large Tárcoles River, its mouth, and the seashore add to the species complexity with mangroves, beaches, mudflats and occasionally flooded land in the peak of the rainy season. Some interesting species to photograph are Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Scarlet Macaw, Streak-chested Antpitta, White-whiskered Puffbird, Orange-collared, Red-capped and Blue-crowned Manakins, Royal Flycatcher, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Orange-fronted Parakeet, White-fronted and Yellow-naped Parrots, Pacific Screech-Owl, Black-and-white Owl, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Great Tinamou, Rufous-naped Wren, Crane Hawk and American Pygmy-Kingfisher. Large American Crocodiles are numerous along the Tárcoles River banks.
Rancho Naturalista (read more) offering Caribbean foothill species, is definitely another good photo scenario. Feeders and a lighted sheet attracts birds very early in the day. Trails introduce you to forest species. The famous Snowcap is found here, also White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Crowned Woodnymph, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, White-crowned Manakin and the rare regional endemic Tawny-chested Flycatcher.
Photographers will have different styles, techniques, targets or interests. It is our interest to custom design the photo tour that best meets your expectations of a photo adventure in Costa Rica, please contact us, we will be happy to custom design and privately operate you photo tour.
So there you have it, we hope that by now our passion for photography in this great country shows. We would love to share that passion with you by helping you get that folder full of fantastic photographs. We would be delighted to show off the wonderful flora and fauna of Costa Rica to you.
Drop us a note outlining your photographic targets and we will design your dream trip.