We watch birds for a number of reasons, but no matter how much a birder may enjoy staring at the primary extensions of small brown birds and discussing the tone and quality of their chip notes, that same birder will breath a happy sigh of relief when confronted with a tanager or two. This big, happy family of Neotropical birds is high on the list of any birder on their way to Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, and other places where literally dozens of glittering tanagers brighten the pages of the field guide. In Costa Rica, we have got a bunch, and several can now be seen at super close range at a site known as the San Luis Adventure Park – known as such and not as the “Birder Adventure Park” because the focus is on zip-lining and other adventure activities. Nevertheless, while the kids go flying through the canopy, the people with binoculars and a need to see tanagers and other cloud forest goodies can do so just behind the restaurant. Pay the $35 entrance fee for an excellent trail with hanging bridges and you might also see a Bare-necked Umbrellabird, White Hawk, and a bunch of other quality species.

But, even if you don’t have time to walk the trail, you should have time to take a gander behind the restaurant and see…tanagers 2

Tanagers feeding at arms length!

Bay-headed Tanager ground

A Bay-headed Tanager at any distance is nice. It sort of knocks you out of your birding socks at close range. Speaking of “birding socks”, does anyone have those? Please tell us about them in the comments (don’t worry, birding sock confessions can be anonymous).

There’s always time for tanagers, especially when some of them feed on the ground!

Emerald Tanager ground

Um, I didn’t expect to see Emerald Tanager planting its feet on the forest floor. This was a first for me.

Speckled Tanager

Speckled Tanager was another bird I normally see in trees.

Crimson-collared Tanager

The Crimson-collared Tanager is always nice.

tanagers on branch

Sharing a branch with a Passerini’s Tanager and a Blue Gray Tanager.

Golden-hooded Tanager

The local name for the Golden-hooded Tanager is “Siete Colores” or “Seven Colors”.

Tawny-capped Euphonia

Tawny-capped Euphonia– not a tanager but its still got the colors!

If you can drag yourself away from making friends with super close tanagers, you might see some other nice birds moving through the trees, including Black-and-yellow Tanager, Blue-and-gold Tanager, and Golden-olive Woodpecker. To visit this site, take the road between San Ramon and La Fortuna, you can’t miss it.

Written by Patrick O'Donnell
Patrick O'Donnell became a birder at the age of 7 after seeing books about birds in the Niagara Falls, New York public library. Although watching thousands of gulls in the Niagara Gorge was sublime, more bird species (and warmer weather) eventually brought him to Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and other very birdy tropical places. A biologist by training, he has worked on bird-related projects in Colorado, Washington, Peru, and other locales, and has guided birders in Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. These days, he lives in Costa Rica where he juggles guiding, freelance writing, developing bird apps for Costa Rica and Panama, posting on his Costa Rica birding blog, and discussing dinosaurs with his young daughter.