Roughing it is not a requirement for birding in Costa Rica. In fact, if you like to vacation with other non-birding couples it is a great place to visit.
We rented a home about 1000 ft up on the side of a mountain, with a distant view of the ocean. It was a beautiful home with great sunsets. Chestnut-mandibled Toucans were commonly seen and heard. Parrots, Swallow-tailed Kites and even the occasional frigatebird could be seen flying back and forth across the lower level of the mountain.
The home was near Quepos, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, and just a few hours drive from San Jose.
In additional to exploring the nearby national parks and enjoying great meals at restaurants with wonderful views, we tried both snorkeling and white-water rafting. The snorkeling was marginal. The rafting was a hit.
Birding in the area was only fair. Better knowledge of the bird songs of the area would have been beneficial.
All of the following photos and the video were taken by Sam Crowe with the Canon SX40 HS camera. The built in lens has a zoom range from 24-840 mm. Several of the images below were shot hand-held at the full 840 mm zoom, often at distances of over 100 yards.
White-crowned Parrot – This bird was several hundred yards away.