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