With over 500 species of birds sighted at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, shortlisting a selection of several especially emblematic birds is no easy task. However, we believe these following nine species deserve the designation due to their uniqueness, dependence on the area, and representation of the tropical rainforest.


1) Lovely cotinga (Cotinga amabilis)

The lovely cotinga is certainly a unique bird. The male is bright blue while the female is greyish-brown with pale underparts. Their preferred habitat is tropical, moist lowland forests and secondary tropical forests. While at the lodge the lovely cotinga prefers to spend its time foraging amongst the secondary forest. Its habitat is restricted to the tropical rainforest between Mexico and Panama making it the perfect candidate for our list of emblematic species.


2) Black-crested coquette (Lophornis helenae)

The black-crested coquette earns its name from the superb black crest of the male. This hummingbird is restricted to the subtropical and tropical forests of Central America and often prefers the interface zone between forests and developed areas. This preference makes them a common visitor of our gardens on the property and an ideal specimen for our emblematic species bird list.


3) Yellow-eared toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis)

This small member of the toucan family is always a favorite of our lucky guests who manage to spot it. Their preferred habitat is the humid forests of Central America. It´s relative rarity, preference of habitat, and showy plumage warrant its inclusion on this list.


4) Bare-necked umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis)

No emblematic bird list of Costa Rica is complete without the bare-necked umbrella bird. Found only in Panama and Costa Rica, this member of the cotinga family enjoys spending time in the tropical premontane forests of the lodge. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, this species is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.


5) Emerald tanager (Tangara florida)

This emblematic species is found between Costa Rica and Ecuador. Like the bare-necked umbrellabird, it also prefers the tropical premontane forests of the lodge. Its bright green plumage gives it a unique appearance, making it one of the most sought-after birds for birdwatchers.


6) Great curassow (Crax rubra)

This large member of the turkey family is distributed throughout Mexico to Columbia. It is listed by the IUCN Red List as vulnerable due to a small population and population declines. It is heavily hunted and its habitat is quickly being destroyed. However, the great curassow is a fairly common resident at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa. Frequently, this emblematic bird can be seen visiting the bird feeder or perusing the gardens.


7) Thicket antpitta (Hylopezus dives)

The thicket antpitta is found from eastern Honduras southward to Columbia. As its name suggests, the thicket antpitta prefers dense thickets of vegetation around streams and treefalls. This presents a challenge for birders and it is more often heard than it is found.


8) Ornate hawk-eagle (Spizaetus ornatus)

The only bird-of-prey on our list and without a doubt one of the most spectacular raptors. Its most notable feature is its black crest which it raises when it is alerted or excited. This raptor is found in humid tropical forests from Mexico south to Peru. It is considered near threatened by the IUCN as a result of hunting and habitat destruction. It is most easily found early in the morning perched high in a tree along the edge of the forest in the farm of the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa.


9) Fasciated tiger-heron (Tigrisoma fasciatum)

Although the fascinated tiger-heron is widespread throughout Costa Rica and south into Bolivia, it is uncommon throughout its range. It can occasionally be found fishing in one of the two main rivers at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, the Rio Danta and the Rio Agua Caliente. Watching this bird fish is a true pleasure and earned it the last spot on our list of the emblematic birds at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa.