Animals in Costa Rica, Nicoya Peninsula
Water Birds I
The Brown Pelican is the largest water bird in Costa Rica. It is a beautiful pastime to just sit on the beach and watch them fly in superb formations along the shore or plunge-dive for fish. In order to fly with as little effort as possible, the birds cleverly use the thermals of air currents and ocean waves.
Brown Pelicans are abundant all along the coast of Costa Rica. They can live up to 31 years.
Frigate Birds are artistic flyers and are often seen hanging motionless in the sky. Their feathers aren't waterproof so they often harass gulls and terns until they release their catch.
The adult male is almost black while the much larger female has a white breast.
The Neotropic Cormorant is closely related to pelicans and can also plunge-dive for fish. You often see these black-featherd birds perched on a tree with their wings outspread to dry their plumeage. They have a long, pointed bill with a downturned hook and an agile neck, a bit similar to the anhinga.
Cormorants are a very ancient bird family, with similar ancestors reaching back to the time of the dinosaurs.
The Anhinga, or snake bird, has no waterproof feathers which allows him to easily dive after his prey underwater. When he swimms his body is submerged and only the neck and head are visible which looks like a snake gliding over the water.
A relative of cormorants and pelicans the anhinga can also travel long distances without flapping his wings, just riding on the currents.
From August to September and from March to May these two members of the sandpiper family are often seen along Costa Rican beaches. 29 species of sandpipers migrate through Costa Rica on their way to and from their South American wintering grounds.
The Whimbrel is one of the largest shorebirds. It has a long, curved bill whose curvature nicely matches the bend of a fiddler crab burrow. It also feeds on other crab species, mollusks and small fish.
Often you see Willets alone or in small groups walking on the beaches and sometimes speeding up to a fast run if a prey is spotted in the sand.
The Northern Jacana is a medium-sized bird with extremely long toes which enable him to walk on lily pads and other water plants.
The much larger female has 1 - 4 male partners with whom she mates. The males incubate the eggs and raise the young, while the female defends the territory.
The surest bet to see large numbers of all kind of waterfowl is a visit to the Palo Verde National Park. It harbors Central Americas largest concentration of migratory aquatic birds.