Birdwatching in the reserve
Las Brisas Nature Reserve is located in a truly unique spot. Geography, topography and elevation (650-1030m) add up to form one of the most bird rich habitats in Costa Rica. The reserve lays on the north-east slopes of Volcán Turrialba, forming part of the Caribbean foothills. Its proximity to both low and high elevation adds tremendous diversity to the Reserve.
The Caribean foothills of Costa Rica are famous in the birding world for the spectacular mixed species flocks that move through all levels of the forest. Tanagers, woodcreepers, tyrannulets, antwrens, warblers and ovenbirds join to form one of the most spectacular and exciting events in the forest. Mixed species flocks at Las Brisas can take on a whole new scale. Some of the flocks we have studied on the Reserve were composed of 35 different species of birds, and over 250 individuals.
Its proximity and direct connection to the highlands allows many species such as the Resplendant Quetzal, Spangle-cheeked Tanager and Black-thighed Grosbeak to be present during part of the year.
The reserve also has an annex in the lowlands at about 250m, with a narrow, but existent, forest connection. This gives species at Las Brisas a place to which descend during the non-breeding season as part of their altitudinal migration.
Las Brisas enjoys a richness of habitats, ranging from fresh-water ponds and grassy meadows, to tall, old-growth forest. Areas that have been restored with native plants and trees are extremely attractive to birds because of the high diversity of species and tree canopy heights.
All in all, birding at Las Brisas provides a unique opportunity to see many species in a short period of time. Very few places in Costa Rica offer eight different species of wrens, six species of Trogons and ten species of owl in one spot. Very few places have such large populations of species such as Royal Flycatcher and White-tipped Sicklebill. In other words, very few places are comparable to Las Brisas when it comes to birds.
By Ernesto M. Carman
Co-founder Cerulean Warbler Conservation-CR