Rancho Naturalista

Turrialba valley  >  Costa Rica

Rancho Naturalista Lodge has the longest checklist among the eBird hotspots of Costa Rica – over 55 % of the nation’s total, including about 40 hummingbirds.

Added* by Dragan Simic
Most recent update 25 August 2022


More than 500 bird species were recorded in 140 ac / 60 ha of Rancho Naturalista's private premontane forest reserve, at 3,000 ft / 900 m above sea level and belonging to the Caribbean (Talamanca’s) foothills biome: Sunbittern, hummingbirds such as Snowcap and Purple-crowned Fairy; Broad-billed and Rufous Motmots; Spotted Antbird, Lovely Cotinga...

You can start your morning in a relaxed manner, with a coffee and sweets among the hummingbird feeders at the communal balcony of the lodge, observing Violet Sabrewing, White-necked Jacobin, Green Hermit, Green-breasted Mango, Crowned Woodnymph, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, etc.

Or, you can hike and bird the four ranch trails (ranging from 0.3 mi / 400 m to 1.6 mi / 2.5 km, and totalling 4 mi / 7 km) on your own, or with Rancho's in-house guides, Mercedes and Harry. On a guided walk, it is possible to observe 120 to 140 species in a single morning, including Snowcap, Tawny-chested Flycatcher, Purplish-backed Quail-dove; White-collared (lek), White-crowned and White-ruffed Manakins; Dull-mantled Antbird, Thicket Antpitta, Black-throated Wren, Black-crested Coquette, Tawny-throated Leaftosser and the Grey-headed Piprites. Also a chance of Paint-billed Crake.

Nearby lies the El Copal Nature Reserve, offering Blue-and-gold Tanager, Snowcap, White-crested Coquette, Black-headed Antthrush and Tawny-chested Flycatcher.

A bit farther away lies the Irazu Volcano National Park, reaching 11,000 ft / 3,400 m a.s.l. and offering a new set of birds, e.g. endemic Volcano Hummingbird and Flame-throated Warbler, Costa Rican Ground Sparrow, a chance of Resplendent Quetzal and Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge, and up near the crater, Volcano Junco and Timberline Wren.



From San Jose to Turrialba by bus, the rest by taxi. Zoom in on the map and click on the "P" (parking) sign in the map by the main lodge building for directions.

Terrain and Habitat

Forest , Mountain , Scattered trees and bushes



Circular trail


Is a telescope useful?

Can be useful

Good birding season

All year round

Best time to visit

Spring migration , Autumn migration


Wide path , Unpaved road

Difficulty walking trail

Average walk

Accessible by


Birdwatching hide / platform


Extra info

The weather in the Turrialba valley is perfect year-round: not too hot and not too cold.


View other birding spots in the area that are published on Birdingplaces


Top 5 birds

1. Snowcap
(Microchera albocoronata)
White-crowned Manakin
2. White-crowned Manakin
(Dixiphia pipra)
Thicket Antpitta
3. Thicket Antpitta
(Hylopezus dives)
Black-crested Coquette
4. Black-crested Coquette
(Lophornis helenae)
Purplish-backed Quail-Dove
5. Purplish-backed Quail-Dove
(Zentrygon lawrencii)

Other birds you can see here

White-necked Jacobin
White-necked Jacobin
(Florisuga mellivora)
Green Hermit
Green Hermit
(Phaethornis guy)
Green-breasted Mango
Green-breasted Mango
(Anthracothorax prevostii)
Violet Sabrewing
Violet Sabrewing
(Campylopterus hemileucurus)
Crowned Woodnymph
Crowned Woodnymph
(Thalurania colombica)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
(Amazilia tzacatl)
Tawny-throated Leaftosser
Tawny-throated Leaftosser
(Sclerurus mexicanus)
Tawny-chested Flycatcher
Tawny-chested Flycatcher
(Aphanotriccus capitalis)
Black-throated Wren
Black-throated Wren
(Pheugopedius atrogularis)

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