Costa Rica has long been a top destination for bird enthusiasts. Those looking for exquisite avifauna will not be disappointed. The plumage of a single bird species can vary with sex, age, and time of year. Such variability, combined with high species diversity, means that bird watching tours in any part of the country will likely result in shows of spectacular plumage. Costa Rica’s mainland and territorial waters host more than 840 species. Species diversity in Costa Rica can in part be traced to its land formation. After millions of years of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the previously separate American continents eventually became connected. The stretch of land between continents—now Central America— created what might be considered a land bridge: representation of species from both continents. Bird species began migrating to the area many millions of years ago. Birds such as the jay came from the north, while hummingbird species appeared from the south.
In addition to its bridging geography, Costa Rica has abundant fruits and flowers. Birds that feed mostly on nectar or fruit are increasingly rare at locations away from the equator. With trees fruiting all year in Costa Rica, even birds like the Resplendent Quetzal can survive on diets that are nearly exclusive to certain fruits. Birds such as the Violet Sabrewing or Great Green Macaw, with vibrant colors and fascinating life cycles, have many kindred species in Costa Rica.