As another year of birding comes to an end at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, we reflect on what has been a fruitful year for bird observations in Costa Rica despite the tumultuous events of 2020.

At the Observatory Lodge 375 species were registered in 2020, placing it at the top of eBird’s Costa Rica birding hotspot list. Some of our favorite sightings from this year include the lanceolated monklet, white-flanked antwren, bay-breasted warbler, and willow flycatcher. We also enjoyed the presence of our new resident great potoo, who took some time away during the summer to recently return at the end of November. In Costa Rica, the species count climbed over 840 species and included several notable species such as the burrowing owl and Orinoco goose.


The year also marked the introduction of a new and exciting development in the world of birding, the virtual tour. With birdwatching quickly gaining popularity as the ideal activity for responsible recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people are beginning their own life list. Our friends at Lifer Nature Tours developed live virtual tours allowing birders and naturalists alike to experience the wonders of the best birding hotspots in Costa Rica from the comfort and safety of their own homes.


The checklists submitted to eBird are a valuable tool for worldwide science, education, and conservation efforts. As 2020 draws to a close we are encouraged and amazed by the contributions of our guests, friends, and colleagues to eBird’s database despite the extenuating circumstances caused by coronavirus. We begin the transition into 2021 optimistic that together we will continue to develop on the success of the eBird program bringing more positive impacts for conservation science.