By Chris Higgins, Margo Malcolm & Jamie Gripich
Staring up into the rainforest canopy, it
s almost like looking into a living
Impressionist painting, your eyes dazzled by the flash of colours, your ears
picking up the extroverted squawks and screeches of green and blue coloured
Macaws, orange and green Motmots, and multi-hued Toucans.
re in Central
s first bird route. Now the
400-plus bird species that inhabits the Sarapiquí region of Costa Rica will
have a greater chance of survival, and birders from around the world get a
chance to see these grand winged masters of the sky.
A Pathway to Survival
At roughly the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has a greater
variety of bird species than all of North America. It is home to five per cent
of all the world
s known animal and
plant species, including 850 bird species.
The Costa Rican Bird Route is the brainchild of the Rainforest
Biodiversity Group, and partially funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The route consists of 12 birding sites, teaming up established and newly
created biological reserves, to offer a variety of bird watching opportunities
and programs in the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor of northeastern Costa
The birdwatching industry is a global phenomenon, and has seen
the largest increase in participants over the last 10 years. Birding is the
fastest-growing outdoor activity in the U.S., and according to a survey by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 51.3 million Americans report that they watch
birds. And more are taking it up all the time.
The first of its kind in Central America, the Bird Route not
only gives visitors access to primary rainforest, but also gives land owners
access to tourism income and an alternative income to other activities that are
not as environmentally sustainable.
We want to be able to
provide a way for locals to sustain their forests,”
explained Andrew Rothman, president and founder of the Rainforest
Biodiversity Group. “If we can take a little bit of pressure off of them by
providing an economic alternative, we think that is a good thing.”