Look up to the Sky: Most Common Birds, of Río Esquinas Mangroves

Close-up of Grey Heron in Río Esquinas near Playa Cativo Lodge

The sun is shining in the rainforest, a healthy breakfast is waiting, the tide is perfect, and you are ready to experience something new and different; The Mangroves of Río Esquinas. 

Just a 15-minute scenic boat ride from Playa Cativo Eco Lodge, you will encounter breathtaking views of an otherworldly natural landscape, composed of the river mouth mangroves. 

Mangroves are large trees that appear to be standing on their tiptoes out of the water. They have what looks like dozens of mixed, tangled roots that look exposed, peaking out of the water.

At Rio Esquinas, you will encounter picturesque scenes of multitudes of unspoiled mangrove systems, on the northwestern border of the Piedras Blancas National Park, one of the largest and most pristine river systems in Costa Rica.

This Mangrove region is an ecosystem of high value for birds, for research, and for bird watching aficionados. They are both a haven for endemic and migratory birds and an important ecosystem for the Rio Esquinas of Golfo Dulce.

The mangroves themselves are a labyrinth of tangled branches and roots that provide a nursery for fish and a refuge for other marine life and wildlife. They also protect the coastline from erosion and help regulate the local climate.

This pristine estuary runs through the rainforest mangroves and empties into Golfo Dulce. It offers a unique and fascinating glimpse into this vital and precarious ecosystem. This is not only a heaven for birds and other wildlife, but also one of the best and most unique places for kayaking and bird watching.

Between September and March are especially magical, with over 40 migratory species congregating throughout the gulf of Golfo Dulce. These majestic birds: join an array of tropical low-lands rainforest and sea resident species that inhabit these mangrove forests.

The estuary during low tide is an ideal place to observe these amazing birds, especially in the early morning and late afternoon hours. The beaches also expose countless small crustaceans, mollusks and mudflats that are uncovered and become a feeding area for aquatic birds. 

When the tide rises, these amazing birds move alone or in small, isolated groups to fish around the banks of the river and among the different mangrove vegetation, where many of them find shelter as well.

Below are some of the most seen migratory and resident birds of the river Mangroves of Rio Esquinas.

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius):

Family: Scolopacidae

They are solitary, although they can aggregate with other shorebirds or individuals of the same species.

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus):

Family: Threskiornithidae

They form numerical aggregations to feed and sleep. The young have an opaque brown coloration, and the adults are completely white.

Green Egret (Butorides virescens):

Family: Ardeidae

They are Loners. Their excellent camouflage allows them to go unnoticed while fishing on the riverbank.

Willet Tringa (Tringa semipalmata):

Family: Scolopacidae

They are solitary or form small aggregations with individuals of the same species or with Curlews.


Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus):

Family: Scolopacidae

They are solitary or form small aggregations. They are observed foraging with the Piguilos. Its common name is due to its frequent vocalizations.

Yellow-Crown Night Heron (Nyctanassa violace)

Family: Ardeidae

These night herons are observed sleeping in the low vegetation of the river during the day. The young are brown with some white spots, and they wonder solitary around the riverbanks.

Snowy Egret (Egret thula)

Family: Ardeidae

They are introverted or form small aggregations with Great Blue Egrets and White Ibises.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

Family: Anhingidae

Is a dark-colored bird that is approximately 36-42 inches in length. It has a long, slender neck, a yellow bill, and webbed feet. The anhinga feeds on small fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects.

Boat-Billed Night Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)

Family: Addeidae

These are nocturnal birds and during the day they are found sleeping in the low vegetation of the river.

The mangroves are home to a wide variety of birds, including the endangered scarlet macaw. Endemic birds such as the Yellow Billed Cotinga (Carpodectes antoniae) and the Mangrove Hummingbird (Amazilia boucardi), can also be found here.

The mangroves are a stopover for migratory birds as well, such as the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias).

Playa Cativo Eco Lodge offers various travel packages and tours to experience this unique journey through the mangroves, with nature guides and/or ecologists’ experts on the field.

Contact us for more information on our Bird Watching Itineraries around Golfo Dulce, Piedras Blancas National Park, and the Osa Peninsula.