The White Ibis is, well… entirely white in plumage. When spotted from a distance it can resemble a Great Egret, Cattle Egret or Snowy Egret, however the pink legs and face, along with the long, skinny downcurved bill is diagnostic. The tips of the wings are black, although that is only visible during flight. The juvenile has brown upperparts, and the neck is striped in brown and white, with gray legs and a darker bill. It is found in ponds and marshes in Guanacaste and the northern area of the country; also along the pacific coast of Costa Rica. Given its habitat, they usually wade in the shallow waters and mudflats, where pick small crustaceans and fish, just like Egrets do.
The Blue-and-white Swallow is very similar to the Mangrove Swallow, given that the Mangrove’s upperparts are green but may look blueish under certain lighting conditions, and they share the white underparts and long black wings and tail. It is distinguished by having black undertail coverts, and the fact that Mangrove Swallows are for the most part encountered in coastal areas, while the Blue-and-White can be found almost anywhere in the country. Like other swallows, they readily perch in cables to rest. They also like to construct their nests in human made structures like roofs.
The Surfbird is a medium-sized coastal bird that appears in September in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, as they migrate towards the south to escape from winter. They are mainly grayish-brown on the upperparts, throat and chest, white with some dark spots on the underparts, bright yellow legs and a relatively small black bill with a little yellow on the base. Its color pattern helps them camouflage easily among the dark shore rocks.
The Ruddy Turnstone is one of the most conspicuous migratory coastal birds that pass through the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Their plumage is fairly colorful, with white underparts, orange legs, wings that are patched in orange and black, black throat and gray head with black markings. This is true of breeding adult males, but also of females and juveniles, although with streaked face and throat instead of black. Juveniles are duller, but not easily confused with other sandpiper species, as they are generally bigger and their body shape is different.
The Lesser Yellowlegs is a coastal bird, very similar to the Greater Yellowlegs, albeit smaller as one would expect. Telling one apart from the other is difficult, as the size difference may not be apparent if both species are not close by. Both have long, bright yellow legs, with white underparts and mottled gray upperparts, which turn brownish during the non-breeding season. The bill is long and slender, mostly black, although non-breeding adults may show a very small basal portion that’s colored in yellow.
The Whimbrel is a mid-sized coastal bird with a relatively down curved, long bill. Its body is grayish brown with a mottled appearance, where some of the subspecies having a white back and rump. Its call is a high-pitched whistle. They appear very similar to the Curlews, however those species are much larger in comparison. They forage in the shallow waters along the coast, grabbing small invertebrates and crabs from the surface.
The Semipalmated Plover is a small migratory bird that can be spotted in early September at the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The upperparts are gray-brown, with a white collar around the neck, white forehead, black mask on the face and small bill with orange basal half and black tip. The underparts are mostly white, except for a black breast band. The delicate legs are orange. It looks very similar to the bigger Killdeer. They wade in beaches and shallow mud flats where they can grab crabs and small insects.
The American Oystercatcher is the only species that reaches Costa Rica, out of 12 species that compose the family Oystercatcher family. They are all very similar, mainly varying in terms of their plumage color. The American species has a brown-gray back, white underparts, pink legs and black head. The eye is yellow with surrounding orange orbital skin, and the bill is large and slim, orange in coloration, which is used to grab and eat shellfish. The inner plumage of the wing is also white, and is shown during flight, or also during displays when wading in the shallow water.
Due to their peculiar look, they are easy to identify among flocks of migratory birds, which normally are composed of gulls, terns, plovers and sandpipers, but are not as abundant during migration and any of those families. They are among the largest of such migratory bird groups. They prefer mud and salt flats that are exposed and shallow, where they can wade to grab prey. They feed by either severing the muscles that enable the mollusks to close tight, hereby getting the meaty interior out, or by grabbing the entire body with the shell, and hitting it against rocks to slam it open.
The Coppery-headed Emerald is one of the few species of birds that are true endemics of Costa Rica, meaning only found in this country. The male is mostly green, with the copper hues on the head that can only be seen in the appropriate light and angle. The female has grey underparts and lacks the copper colors on the head. Both have a black downcurved bill, which help with identification versus similar species like the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, with which it shares the brownish-red rump. They are one of the tiniest species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. They are seen in the mid to high elevations, in places where there is high humidity, but specially in the Cinchona and Vara Blanca zone.
The Crowned Woodnymph is a medium sized hummingbird with a violet belly and glittering green throat, along with different shades of blue and green on the back. The female has white underparts and throat instead, with golden patches along the neck and head; the rest of the body is green like the male. They are mid sized among Costa Rican hummingbirds and might resemble a little bit the Violet-bellied Hummingbird that is found in Colombia. They inhabit low tropical rain forest locations like Braulio Carrillo and Bosque Eterno de los Niños, where they feed from the nectar of a variety of flowers, including Porter Weed.