Costa Rica Bird-a-thon


Red Lored Parrot


Great Curassow

Each winter, the Tropical Wings Board of Directors and Tropical Wings Members travel to Costa Rica to participate in a fundraising bird-a-thon. Participants seek donations in a similar fashion to marathon fundraising (donations are sometimes made in a lump-sum or funds are donated on a per bird basis), and when participants arrive in Costa Rica, they try to spot as many bird species as possible! Some of the bird species observed by bird-a-thon participants are migrants that spend the summer months in the St. Croix Watershed, while other species are iconic tropical birds such as parrots and toucans. The money raised during the bird-a-thon is then granted to organizations that are dedicated to conserving migratory birds in the St. Croix Watershed and Costa Rica.

For a glimpse into this remarkable ecotourism adventure, check out this description written by Tropical Wings President, Patty Mueller – Excerpt from the Birding Journal, Tropical Wings Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2018

“Every spring we witness an amazing natural wonder, as birds that have been absent all winter, return to their breeding grounds. The early morning songs of our resident chickadees and cardinals are joined by our returning migrants, including the yellow warblers and baltimore orioles. Some of the migrants returning to the St. Croix River Watershed this spring spent the winter in the country of Costa Rica. Their wings carry them an astonishing 2500 miles on their journey to return to our backyards.

As humans are not equipped with wings, in order to make a similar journey, we must board an airplane. Ten members of Tropical Wings did just that when they traveled to Costa Rica this winter in order to participate in Tropical Wing’s second annual Birdathon. In addition to being an incredible travel opportunity, the Birdathon is also a fundraiser for conservation efforts. Each participant raised a minimum of $500 to support conservation projects in the St. Croix Watershed and in Costa Rica.

Birdathon travelers experienced the many ecosystems found in this small country, and spotted 299 of Costa Rica’s 921 bird species, including 19 of the migratory birds that spend their summers “up north”, building their nests and raising their young in Minnesota and Wisconsin. As 2018 has been declared the Year of the Bird (see insert below), celebrating migratory species in Costa Rica was particularly pertinent. There is additional cause for celebration this year, as it is also the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which has protected the St. Croix River and surrounding habitat as a haven for migratory birds.

The two week Birdathon included visiting three of our seven “Sister Parks” – the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands and Corcovado National Park. We spent two nights in Corcovado National Park, considered the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s national parks system. Corcovado was designated a protected area in 1975 and covers 103,290 acres with 13 major ecosystems including the largest intact lowland rainforest in Central America. In addition to the incredible diversity of birdlife, we also saw several of the 140 mammal species, including spider, howler, white-faced and squirrel monkeys, Baird’s Tapirs, and Collared Peccaries. Travelers came away with an increased awareness of the importance of healthy ecosystems, and a desire to promote conservation in the St. Croix River Watershed and in our Sister Parks on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.”

For information about participating in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please contact Tropical Wings President, Patty Mueller, at

COVID-Creative Bird-a-thon

Due to safety concerns and travel restrictions related to COVID-19, the Costa Rica Bird-a-thon did not take place in 2021. However, the Tropical Wings team has continued to worked closely with Surcos Tours, and we collaborated to create a virtual birding experience we are calling Aves Increibles: The Incredible Birds of Costa Rica

You can preview the video here, and visit our Aves Increibles page for more details about how you participate in the experience and donate to Tropical Wings.