Violet Sabrewing at feeder
Photo by Karen Straus

Café Colibrí: Stop for the food, stay for the birds

Café Colibrí: Stop for the food, stay for the birds

Sep 21, 2018|Birding| by Molly O'Brien

Nestled along the east side of the main road in between the towns of Vara Blanca and San Miguel in Costa Rica is Café  Colibrí—a little-known gem of a birding hotspot frequented by local birders and visiting “lifers.” Along with the promise of great birding opportunities, people stop for the excellent coffee and local fare, “Tico-style.”

The café, which gets its name after the hummingbirds it feeds (Colibrí means hummingbird in spanish),was rebuilt from the ground up after the 2009 earthquake and continues to be  a long-standing staple of the secluded area. The bird-loving family, who owns and operates the café, has self-manufactured a paradise for birds and birders alike, by constructing and maintaining a variety of feeders around the restaurant. With no fees for admission, it’s the perfect scene for both experienced and novice birders to get a bite to eat, sip on some Costa Rican coffee, while having the opportunity to witness and photograph a variety of birds up-close. 

  After a long day of exploring in the rainforest, Coilbrí is a favorite stopping place for travelers on their way to or from Sarapiquí—“it has become a regular stop for many tour groups, especially birding expeditions,” notes Debbie Sturdivant, Ambassador for Holbrook Travel and self-proclaimed avid birder.

“I can say for my experiences there…both times, fantastic views of hummingbirds and the Emerald Toucanet,” says Debbie. “I think most “lifers” go in hopes to see Red-headed Barbet,”  which has been more elusive since the 2009 earthquake—but slowly as the vegetation grows back, the frequency and variety of birds increases as well.


Bird photography at the Café Colibri, by Christa Markley 

The family has stepped-up their birding game as well, by adding another set of feeders lower down on the property, as well as a large bunch of bananas placed at eye-level in the hopes of attracting fruit-eaters like toucans and parrots.    

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the birds that frequent Colibrí Café:

Hummingbirds: Violet Sabrewing, Green-crowned Brilliant, Coppery-headed Emerald, Green Thorntail, Green Hermit and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird; the bird to look for is the White-bellied Mountain-gem, a local species seen at very few locations. 


Emerald Toucanet, by Jerry Goffe,

Other species include:  Emerald Toucanet, Prong-billed Barbet, Red-headed Barbet and Buff-throated Saltator.



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