Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

Migration of Birds of Prey

Julio Sánchez Ornithologist, National Museum. 

ImageNearly 3 million birds of prey (several kinds of hawks, kites, ospreys, turkey vultures) will fly across our country in this migration period. To a great amount of them, Costa Rica is their final stop, but most will continue their journey down to South America, to even reach the Patagonia in Argentina.

Why do they migrate?

Migration is a strategy of survival used by birds to take advantage of two distant geographic areas in the period of the year that is most beneficial to them. North America offers specific climatic conditions and plenty of food resources to breed and feed their offspring. Foreseeing the rough winter, they migrate to the tropics and live there for about 6 months to finally return back to their reproductive areas.

Saving up energy

Before they start migrating, raptors save up a great amount of fat to be used as fuel during their journey, for they do not feed meanwhile. They avoid beaten flight as much as they can and benefit from atmospheric phenomena such as thermals (rising air drifts) that carry them up to high altitudes from which they glide toward their destination. Such action allows them to save over 50% of energy.

When can they be seen?

Since the late July and up to the beginning of November, but most intensively in October, raptors will cover our Costa Rican skies on their way South. In March and April mainly, they can be seen again on they journey back North.


More information about Birds of Prey here.

Image Gallery