Bird Research in Costa Rica

Assist in the protection and study of both marine and forest birds while living and working in a Costa Rican rainforest.

Durations:  2 - 12 weeks

Program information

Discover the tropical habitat of Costa Rica while learning about and helping to preserve the diverse bird species in the region. Travel down the canals looking for birds on the river banks, and trek through the jungle paths looking for birds in the canopies above. Data gathered will be used to inform long-term conservation efforts along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

undefined 30 June 2022
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Program overview

Work with GVI staff and participants all over the world to assist the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, or MINAET, with collecting data concerning the presence of 30 target bird species throughout Tortuguero National Park. The data is not only useful for learning more about the migration of bird species within Costa Rica, Central America, and further locations, but it also indicates the health of the National Park as a whole.

Learn how to identify these species in the wild, note their gender and breeding behaviour, and input the information into the relevant databases. This information is then shared with the Costa Rican government so that they can make informed decisions about their conservation policies.

Even though bird surveys will form the main part of your project, you will have the opportunity to participate in additional research projects and gain an holistic understanding of the Costa Rican environment. These projects might include research concerning green, leatherback, and hawksbill sea turtles, monitoring camera traps for evidence of jaguars in the vicinity, or conducting surveys of the mammals, reptiles, and amphibians found along several trails in the surrounding forest environment.

Through the recording, processing, and analysing of data, you will get to grips with the technical aspects of real-world conservation research, helping you to further your ability to operate professionally in this field. In addition, you will be mastering some soft skills like teamwork which could help you excel in many other professions. Either way, the experience of living and working on a small base with a tightly knit group of participants is designed to help you form lifelong bonds with others as fascinated with birds and other wildlife as you are.

Due to the fact you will work in a national park, you will need special scientific permit to approve you for conducting research. Further permits are required for turtle and jaguar research. The permit for turtle research takes about one month to process, while the permit for conducting jaguar research takes about 2 to 3 months to process.


  • Live and work at a research station in the middle of a Costa Rican national park.
  • Spot unique Costa Rican birdlife in a protected Caribbean rainforest reserve while contributing to their protection and that of their habitat.
  • Observe Costa Rican wildlife species in their natural habitats, including sea turtles on the Caribbean beach, and monkeys, neo-tropical birds, and amphibians in the caponies above rainforest canals.
  • Visit an incredibly jaguar-dense area and one of the only locations in the world where jaguars are known to prey on adult sea turtles.
  • Explore the rainforest by canoe and walk the pristine Caribbean beaches.
  • Learn biodiversity survey techniques and gain real field experience.
  • Undertake turtle nesting surveys and monitor nesting sites during turtle nesting season.
  • Contribute to jaguar research by setting up and checking camera traps in the rainforest.

Program details

Program type
GVI Latin Ame