Since 1994, the Costa Rica Bird Observatories have conducted research in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. In association with Sea Turtle Conservancy (previously known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation or CCC), Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation (COTERC) and other cooperators, we have expanded to a total of five monitoring stations throughout the area.

When we first developed our station on a small piece of land owned by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, it was one of the only operations regularly monitoring the land bird populations on a consistent basis. After being in operation for over fifteen years, we have established many long-lasting relationships within the community, which has allowed us to expand our research goals, and to create new stations throughout the area.

Tortuguero is a remote community positioned in the Northeast coast of Costa Rica. Located in the Province of Limon, Tortuguero is situated on a landmass, which overlooks both the Caribbean ocean and the fresh water river, Rio Suerte. The region receives an average temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit year round, with a high amount of precipitation and humidity. This region is known for its abundance in flora and fauna, and is not surprisingly, the third most visited location in all of Costa Rica. Despite its remoteness, our research stations are relatively accessible without the repercussions of urban development.

CRBO-Tortuguero is located in the Caribbean coastal community of Tortuguero. It is surrounded by the Tortuguero National Park, which protects more than 31.000 hectares of Caribbean lowland rainforest. This forest is crossed by an intricate system of natural and man-made canals, which provide access for local people, tourists and products from other towns. The Park also is internationally recognized as sanctuary for the nesting of leatherback, olive-ridley, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. The main economic activities in the area are tourism and fishing. Our Tortuguero monitoring station has been in operation for over 15 years, one of the longest running constant effort stations in Latin America. This monitoring effort includes five sites along the Caribbean coast where interns work. Interns are hosed at the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (now Sea Turtle Conservancy).

The beaches in this region are key nesting sites for many of the world’s most endangered species of sea turtle. It is also considered one of the best stopover locations for Nearctic neo-tropical migrants; over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the Tortuguero area alone.

Our goal is to not only sustain long-term monitoring sites for the study of neo-tropical migrant species, but also to expand the understanding of our resident Land Birds. In collaboration with Costa Rican residence, we seek to further the knowledge and understanding of the species in the region.

Learn more about Tortuguero:
Visit the sites of some of our cooperators:
Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC):
Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation (COTERC):

The National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) of Costa Rica is a private research and biodiversity management center, established in 1989 to support efforts to gather knowledge on the country’s biological diversity and promote its sustainable use. The institute works under the premise that the best way to conserve biodiversity is to study it, value it, and utilizes the opportunities it offers to improve the quality of life of human beings.

INBioparque is a project by the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), which is a research facility that supports alternative and sustainable uses of biodiversity. INBioparque is located in Costa Rica’s Central Valley and is surrounded by a northwest and southeast running mountain range system. INBioparque serves as a bird banding training facility, the only one in the country, in a suburban forest located just 15 min from San José, the capital. INBioparque is considered an information gateway to the country’s conservation areas, and it is dedicated to environmental education and outreach.

In 2008, we developed a research station at INBio’s main campus, INBioparque in Santo Domingo, Heredia. Under the premise of education, the research station was created originally as a tool for local University students to learn how to effectively study and band birds. Over time, the research site proved to be valuable not only as an educational tool, but also, because the collected data displayed a larger picture of how migrant species use suburban forests as a stopover and winter habitat. It also relayed an understanding of how suburban forest is beneficial to resident species, and how INBioparque acts as a corridor for many species in Costa Rica.

The proximity of this research station to San Jose provides a steady flow of students, biologists and volunteers. INBioparque is a hotspot for education and outreach to the public, with an annual visitation rate of over 150,000 per year of which over 3,000 visitors come directly to our bird related activities, which include bird walks, banding demonstrations, bird festivals, and talks.

Our partnership with INBio ensures office space and other administrative services; this allows our work to be more effective and better constituted. This has culminated in the formal agreement between the U.S.Forest Service and INBio to mutually support bird-monitoring efforts at INBioparque, as well as the rest of the country.

Visit the INBioparque website:
Learn more about the National Institute of Biodiversity and INBioparque

Madre Selva
CRBO-Madre Selva is located in Cerro de la Muerte area, in the Talamanca Mountain Range towards the southeast of the country. It is at an elevation of 2650 meters, and the predominant habitat is cloud forest. Normal daily range temperatures are between 13 and 18 degrees Celsius. The main economic activities are cattle ranching, dairy and agriculture, although some local tourism ventures employ a small percentage of the local population.

In 2010, we established a bird research facility on a 160-hectare private reserve owned by the Elizondo Family. Under an agreement between INBio, US Forest Service, and the Klamath Bird Observatory, this station functions as a base for researcher around the world to be part of the effort to understand bird populations, migratory and residential to Costa Rica.

The Cerro de la Muerte (Madre Selva) area is the center for endemic birds for Costa Rica. Its geographical location within the Talamanca range makes this unique cloud forest a place for high biodiversity richness. The two national parks (Tapanti-Macizo de la Muerte and Los Quezales National Park) also benefit from the presence of avifauna in the region, attracting bird watchers and biodiversity seekers from all over the world. Although the station is under two hours away from Downtown San Jose, the research station is surprisingly remote. The area, as many describe as “the real Costa Rica”, demonstrates its humble and welcoming character.

Even during the warmest months of the year, this area receives an average temperature of approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit, with generally high precipitation rates. The field station has an “Alpine-like” charm, despite being situated in a tropical cloud forest of 2500 meters. Although the station is one of the oldest buildings in this region, it continues to deliver its unique comforts to both researchers and visitors of the area. Beyond the opportunity to see the Resplendent Quetzel, Collard Trogans, or even the Green Fronted Lancebill, one of highlights of visiting this station is warming up around the wood-fired stove, sipping a cup of true Costa Rican coffee.

Visit these sites to get a feel for the area:

La Selva
La Selva Biological Station is a very well known ecology research station of the Organization for Tropical Studies, providing a facility of worldwide importance for tropical research. Located in the northeastern lowlands, La Selva includes a nature reserve that protects about 15 square kilometers (5.8 sq mi) of primary tropical rainforest, surrounded by Braulio Carrillo National Park.
To read more about La Selva: