Pat O’Donnell

Pat O’Donnell

Pat O’Donnell started watching birds at the age of seven in Niagara Falls, New York. The birding was good in western New York but no amount of gulls could distract him from the siren song of neotropical birds. Ever since a first, fateful trip to Costa Rica in 1992, he has focused on the incredible wealth of birds found in the American Tropics. A biologist by training, Pat has participated in ornithological studies in North America and Peru, and has birded in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. A freelance writer and bird guide, he resides in Costa Rica with his wife and daughter. Pat also blogs about birds and birding in Costa Rica at

Feb 012013
The First Birding App for Costa Rica is now Available

There seems to be an an app for just about everything in these digital times including an addictive game where seriously upset birds are launched through the air at nefarious pigs. However, there was no app that focused on birding in Costa Rica. Well, none until January 22nd when the first birding app for Costa […]

Jan 242013
A Few Highlights from Recent 2013 Birding in Costa Rica

I apologize to the folks who keep checking this blog for a new post. Guiding, writing, and finishing an app. for birding in Costa Rica have occupied most of my time and explain my virtual absence. As you can probably imagine, the birding in Costa Rica has been wonderful and I might be close to […]

Jan 022013
Big Misses from Birding Costa Rica in 2012

I wish I could recount some exciting Costa Ricanbirding experience that involved dancing my way across a column of army ants while expertlydigiscoping a face-off betweenBlack-crowned Antpittasand R.V.Ground-cuckoos as Ocellated Antbirds watched from the Heliconia sidelines. SuchJedi-style adventures will have to wait until 2013, though, becauseI am currentlyin the land of gulls. Niagara Falls is […]

Jan 012013
My Best Bird from a Year of Birding in Costa Rica during 2012

According to the calendar followed by myself and many folks in the world, the end of yet another year is nigh. Those December days can be exciting ones for a birder. Christmas counts abound, the tension to squeeze a few more species out of the remaining days of 2012 becomes paramount for people doing a […]

Dec 132012
Some Tips for the Upcoming Season for Birding in Costa Rica

It’s birding season in Costa Rica! Ok, well it almost is and since you are going to see lots of birds any time of the year in this biodiverse place, an actual birding season is kind of debatable. But, hey, this is a blog and I since I am the sole editor, I can be […]

Dec 032012
A few Highlights from Costa Rica Birding at Ujarras

Ujarras, Costa Rica is a small settlement situated near the Cachi Dam. This structure is in turn located in the Orosi Valley and is meant to hold back the water of the Reventazon River so it can be used to generate electricity. A side effect was the creation of a lake that produced Costa Rica’s […]

Nov 242012
How does Birding in Costa Rica differ from that of the Temperate Zone?

Before my first trip to Costa Rica, I prepared for it like a commando on an all important mission. There was a scheduled departure date printed on my plane ticket (no e-tickets back in 1992) and the destination was San Jose, Costa Rica. This meant that I had a near certain date with a baptism […]

Nov 212012
VaraBlanca - Overlooked Costa Rican Birding Hotspot

Birding hotspots don’t just earn that claim to fame for the bird species that show up. While rarities and high quality species are certainly part of the hotspot equation, other factors also determine a site’s eligibility on the hotspot scale. For example, in Costa Rica, we can surmise that birding in the middle of large […]

Nov 152012
Hints for Birding in Costa Rica- Was that a Tyrannulet or a Warbler?

Just as birders in temperate North America have to deal with the kinglet-warbler identification conundrum (with the Hutton’s Vireo thrown in for good measure in some places), we birders in Costa Rica are confronted with the tyrannulet-warbler scam. It goes like this: At some subtropical site in Costa Rica, a tiny bird flits into a […]

Oct 312012
Why It’s Worth it to Visit Manzanillo when Birding Costa Rica

Manzanillo is almost as detached from the typical Costa Rican birding circuit as you can get without leaving the country. Tucked way off in the southeastern corner of the country, it seems silly to drive there when you can see most of the same birds in the Sarapiqui region. If given the option, though, I […]

Oct 222012
What Happened at Costa Rica’s First Birding and Biodiversity Festival

Time flies just like the migrants that zip through Costa Rica. Although I haven’t listened to the night skies as much as the previous year, the Spring Peeper-like notes of Swainson’s Thrushes have drifted down from the dark on several occasions. Fall migration has been happening here as it usually does- fast and furious. Thousands […]

Oct 162012
Thinking of Birding in Costa Rica? Sign up for a Natura Birding Tour!

When taking a birding trip to Costa Rica, there are two basic ways to do it. Either (1), do the trip on your own, or (2) take a birding tour. The first option guarantees adventure and that’s why a lot of people opt for the latter. It’s easier to let someone else take care of […]

Oct 032012
The Birding in Costa Rica goes from Good to Exceptional When You see a Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo!

The Neomorphus cuckoos are some of the toughest birds to see in the neotropics. Unlike their more northerly, arid-zone cousins, the roudrunners, these are secretive birds of dense rainforests and like many other birds that inhabit thatexciting habitat, they are naturally rare. In other words, they have low density populations where pairs and/or individuals roam […]