The popularity of birdwatching—or birding—has soared to unprecedented heights since the dawn of the 2020s, with both amateur and seasoned avian aficionados trekking across the globe in search of their next tick. From Colombia’s capuchinbird to the California condor, there’s no shortage of spectacular species to be found across the planet—but there’s one bird in particular that serves as a truly admirable addition to one’s life list.
Equipped with a long thin bill and dazzling blue plumage, the agami heron is a true sight to behold—if you can find it, that is. This small wading bird is renowned by birders and biologists alike for its extreme elusiveness, preferring to conceal itself deep in the tangled underbrush—and while the heron is native to a vast expanse of land stretching from Brazil to the Yucatán Peninsula, large-scale habitat destruction has earned it a spot on the IUCN’s vulnerable species list, making this already-elusive creature even more difficult to encounter.
For any seasoned birders hoping to catch a glimpse of this mega-tick-worthy animal, Central American birdwatching tour company Costa Rica Focus has engineered the perfect itinerary: the Quest for the Agami Heron. This ten-day voyage takes place from May 28th to June 7th, coinciding directly with the species’ nesting season—and while individual agami herons are tough to find, Costa Rica Focus has it all figured out.
Near the tail end of the trip, participants will embark on a three-hour drive to Pacuare Reserve, a remote stretch of protected land located on the shore of Costa Rica’s Limón Province. While amenities around here are truly bare-bones, this pristine preserve is home to one of the earth’s only known agami heron colonies. During nesting season, this large-scale colony swells to more than fifty individual members, providing visitors with multiple guaranteed sightings of this coveted creature.
While agami herons are the star attraction during the trip, Costa Rica Focus promises a lot more than just one species. Throughout the trip, guests will embark on journeys to some of the nation’s most exalted destinations for birding spanning from the pristine hills of San José Province to Alajuela’s Arenal Volcano. Visitors to the aptly-named Parque Nacional Los Quetzales will have ample opportunity to spot bat falcons, barred parakeets, and the abundantly-famous resplendent quetzal while lodging at the Savegre Hotel, while the renowned Rancho Naturalista is a hotspot for hummingbirds ranging from the garden emerald to the purple-crowned fairy.
While birds abound across the nation, the trip also provides an opportunity to spot some of Costa Rica’s native reptiles, insects, and mammals. Primates abound across the country, with howler and Geoffroy’s spider monkeys serving as two potential sights, while classic Central American creatures like agoutis, tamanduas, and opossums are common as well. On the cold-blooded side of the spectrum, the Quest for the Agami Heron also takes guests on a leatherback census expedition, allowing newcomers to spot the world’s largest—and most unique—sea turtle in the wild.
The agami heron may be one of Costa Rica’s most sought-after birds, but it’s not the only tourist draw that this idyllic nation has to offer. From pristine beaches to verdant rolling hills, the landscape of this gorgeous republic is truly a sight to behold—and it’s a veritable treasure trove of biodiversity as well. With more than 900 different bird species found within its borders, there’s no limit to the spectacular experiences that a seasoned birder can have across this iconic country.