Oilbird (Steathornis caripensis)

Oilbird (Steathornis caripensis)

AUTHOR: Walter Sánchez 


No matter what time of the year you visit Corcovado National Park, whether it's rainy or dry season, it will always be a lifetime experience for nature lovers, especially for a birder. It was around 10:20 a.m when I was leading a family excursion in San Pedrillo station.

We observed Spider, Howler and Capuchin monkeys, Agoutis, Coatis, Crocodiles, and endangered birds like Scarlet Macaws, Great Curassows, Crested Guans, Trogons. Returning to the ranger station halfway through Pargo trail, I saw a very active mixed flock of birds with several species, including Russet Antshrike, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Tawny-crowned Greenlet and Black-hooded Antshrike. They were very low near the ground level, calling loud and excited, especially the White-throated Shrike-Tanager that usually leads the flocks in this particular trail.

At first, I thought it was because of a large swarm of Army Ants ahead. Then suddenly, from nowhere, perched about 5 meters from the forest floor, the rare Oilbird, rocking up and down as the mixed flock passed by. It was just like the image I had seen millions of times in the Birds of Costa Rica book and publications on Ornithological revelations! The views I had of this rare Oilbird were just unbeatable.

There are just 11 official records of the Oilbird in Costa Rica, including my report. The spectacular Corcovado National Park was sending me the best birding vibes ever. There is no research about this bird distribution or natural history in the Osa Peninsula. There was report from Piedras Blancas National Park, and in San Pedrillo station, the bird was seen twice. It is considered one of the rarest birds in Costa Rica. It is the only flying fruit-eating bird with echolocation, rooting in large groups in caves.

The Oilbird is named for the young birds, which are so fat that indigenous people and early settlers used to catch them to make oil for lighting and cooking.

It is a bird native to South America in countries like Venezuela, Trinidad, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. Here are links to ebird showing their distribution in Costa Rica:


That day I was not leading a tour about natural history and was not expecting to find this incredible bird. I shared the Oilbird's location with another naturalist leading tours, so we all could witness this moment. After that day, we never saw the bird again. Even the trail disappeared due to fallen trees after some heavy winds. Here is an Ebird link to San Pedrillo Hotspot so you can check the birds constantly reported:


I currently organize and lead professional birdwatching tours ONLY to this destination with groups minimum 2 and maximum 6 pax. That includes local expert birding & nature guide, park fees, transportation, snacks and lunch.



About Ballena Tales

Ballena Tales  is a free travel guide and comprehensive online magazine for travellers, locals and investors. It covers everything on the Costa Ballena at the south pacific of Costa Rica in the Osa region. Ballena Tales is a multilingual, colourful magazine that publishes it's digital version every two months.

We present our local community throughout interviews with pioneers, writers and artists. Moreover do we provide information about restaurants, hotels, experiences, nature and wildlife at the southpacific region in Costa Rica.

The Fishermen

The Fishermen

The Fishermen Author: Karolina Magdalena Living in Dominicalito on the beach with fishermen has been so much different from living in Dominical or Uvita. Not speaking Spanish was no longer an option–my Tico neighbors insisted, […]

Continue reading
Le French Cafe Costa Rica

Le French Cafe

The French Cafe offers a great variety of classic French cuisine, like a croque monsieur or different tartes that can be eaten while having a glass of French wine in hand.

Continue reading

The Teslito Initiative

The Teslito Initiative Author: The GoFundMe Initiative Pepe Lopez is a young man who cares deeply about his community. It is immediately apparent that his heart beats for Dominicalito’s children and that he dedicates his […]

Continue reading
HeaLynn Essentials

HeaLynn Essentials

HeaLynn Essentials Author: Pura Bee Amor We, Carlos Guadamuz & Heather Sanden, are grateful to be a part of this Ballena Tales issue and to share our bee love with you! We do this through […]

Continue reading
Costa Ballena LifeGuards Program

Costa Ballena lifeguards program

Costa Ballena lifeguards program Author: Brad Dean Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. They are also some of the deadliest. Each year, on average, 50 people drown from the […]

Continue reading

What to do, Where to eat and Where to stay…

South Pacific Costa Rica Beaches

Looking for business directories, maps or other printouts? We’ve got that too!

Dare to Discover and Enjoy…

Check out…

Need help planning your next trip to Costa Rica? We look forward to help you!

Email: carlos@ballenatales.com
Phone: +(506) 8946 7134 or +(506) 8914 1568
Skype: ballenatalestravel

Posted in Activities, Animal World, animals, Bird Watching & Ornithology, Birds, Costa Ballena, Environment, Environment & Wildlife, Osa and tagged , , , , , , , .