Mother Nature has been particularly kind to Costa Rica, with the country being one of the most admired territories in terms of bio diversity. The country has an impeccable variety of fauna with almost 200 plus species of mammals, more than 200 types of amphibians, almost 1000 species of birds and 220 species of reptiles.
The government has put in special effort into making most tourist activities eco friendly that can be enjoyed without disturbing the delicate natural balance of the local flora and fauna. Costa Rica is a veritable treasure trove from a bird watchers point of view and the mountains are a perfect home for the numerous species of birds that can be observed in their natural habitat here.
Some of the famed bird watching areas in the country are Monteverde, Talamanca, Braulio Carrillo National park and the Osa peninsula. You can observe numerous varieties of birds in the same area. The best way to explore the country as a bird watcher is to visit the different habitats preferably with a local guide who is a bird watching specialist. You may also want to keep the book, ‘Birds of Costa Rica’ handy with you. It is available from Cornell Press and is an in depth guide into the local and migratory birds of the country written by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch. If you are lucky you may have the opportunity to observe some of the rarest species of birds such as the Umbrella Bird with a plumage of fine feathers on its head that almost resembles an umbrella, the three wattle bellbird, the quetzal with its emerald green plumage that has a metal like sheen and the scarlet macaw an almost endangered species with dwindling populations all over Central America to name a few.
Very peculiar phenomenons that can be seen in the tropical forests are the ant swarms where groups of vicious ants stir up other insects. These swarms are usually accompanied by numerous bird species which peculiarly do not feast on the ants, but on the insects stirred up by them.
Each year the arrival of turtles looking for the prefect place to lay their eggs along the pacific and Atlantic coasts turns in to a celebrated event with many tourists arriving for the sole purpose of observing them. Several tours are organized in regions that play hosts to the migrating turtles, but special care is taken to ensure that they are not adversely affected.
Almost half of the 200 mammal species found in Costa Rica are bats. It is not unusual to see them hanging upside down from trees as they catch an afternoon nap. Other mammals include the ant eater, the giant anteater with its bushy tail normally seen in the Osa peninsula and the silky anteater, which is as big as a cat. Then, there are the endangered members of the cat family like the jaguar, jaguarondi, the margay, the oncilla and the ocelot.
If you thought that the fauna was colorful wait till you hear about the flora. Costa Rica has an unusually high variety of plant species with almost 10,000 species of higher plants. You will find more species of ferns in Costa Rica than the entire continent of North America. Nature blooms in all its glory in Costa Rica affording an unhindered view of its flamboyant colors and textures. From Begonias to anthuriums and from the blood of Christ named for the red blotches on the underside of its leaves to the hot lips or hooker lips as they are commonly known that look like a pair of puckered up lips. The flame red poro tree, the purple jacaranda the fluorescent yellow coteza amarilla and the pink and white meadow oak all stand as examples of the seasonal splendor of nature. The lavender covering of morning glory and vivacious red passionflowers further add to the effect; dazzling onlookers. Costa Rica is home to some of the rarest species of orchids in the world.
The humungous variety of ferns some not seen anywhere else in the world besides the tropical rainforest stun visitors, among them is the monkey tail or rabo de mico as it’s locally known which dates back to the dinosaur period with some plants almost a 12 feet tall.
Author: Victor Campos