Projects Abroad | Wildlife Conservation

Costa Rica: Bird Research and Conservation

Tortguero National Park, Costa Rica


Location: Tortguero National Park, Costa Rica

Duration: 2-12 weeks commitment

Start Dates: Project starts on a Saturday with set start dates throughout the year. Check with us when applying.

Cost: from £1,495 for 2 weeks. Check the Costs tab for further information.

Includes: All food, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities

Does not Include: flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations


  • Get to witness the beautiful diverse range of Costa Rican birds within the stunning location of Tortguero National Park.
  • Gain an introduction to conservation within the park and develop your knowledge of the species we study.
  • Spending your days living in this beautiful location is a great introduction to anyone with a passion for birds and conservation
  • Take part in the other Wildlife research following the Biodiversity methodologies in the Rainforest
Costs Explained


This project works to assist the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, or MINAET, to collect data about 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.

Daily Life

On Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast you will join a team of international volunteers as an expedition member. Our expedition base camp is located in the Tortuguero National park of Costa Rica. Your hands on work will contribute to the long-term management and conservation of this stunning rainforest.

You will be joining our team in the Costa Rican rainforest to study the 30 target species of aquatic birds provided by the Costa Rican Ministry of government. Bird surveys take place on the canals of the park and on trails in the forest, and you will learn identification techniques for the birds in the area and how to collate and input the data collected whilst on survey.
This is a segment program to the Costa Rica Wildlife conservation project so volunteers can expect to also get involved in:

  • Jaguars feeding behaviour and population studies including a 15 mile survey on the beach (once a week) to monitor the number of predated sea turtles and the use of camera traps to ID jaguars and monitor their feeding patterns. Seasonal Feb to Nov.
  • Also scats (faeces) gathering in order to study and genetic studies.
  • Marine turtle (seasonal end of march to October) conservation using a international protocol to ID nesting greens, leatherbacks (March to June) and some hawksbills.
  • Tropical species surveying and identification techniques which will be comprised of surveys in the forest focusing on the whole biodiversity of the area (amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles).
  • Data recording and Input, volunteers will assist in inputting the data collected on surveys into the projects databases.

Approximate schedule – Wake up 5/6am, 1st survey 6-10am, lunch, 2nd survey 1-4pm, dinner, bed by 9pm. Nighttime turtle patrols are 8/9pm-2am (they would have the morning off the following day!). You will go out on 1 or 2 surveys per day. You will get training on all species and surveys even if they sign up only for turtles or jaguars

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Travel & Accom.

Accommodation is in shared (mixed sex) rooms with a private bathroom. Large bedrooms with 6-10 people in each room. There is running water available for cooking and showers. Flush toilet facilities are available, and you will share house duties, including cleaning and other chores. large balcony and big patio in the garden which is used as communal space.

Food is very basic, and most volunteers will prepare their own breakfasts, usually toast and cereals, and packed lunches to eat at the project site. You will be split into teams to prepare the evening meal on a rotational basis, which is loads of fun, but also encourages team building. All dietary requirements will be catered for accordingly.

The base is remote and only accessible by boat, the base runs on solar panels but if weather is bad then sometimes it is not enough to charge everybody’s phones & cameras, so volunteers need to be prepared to have little or no charge on their devices should the weather be bad.

There is no electricity in the volunteer huts. It is very important that you bring backpack style bags as you will need to carry your own luggage to base.

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age 18
  • Be keen and enthusiastic to get involved in the project
  • Ability to work within a team environment
  • Minimum 2 weeks commitment
  • CRB Police check (or equivalent) showing that you have no previous criminal convictions
  • Signed medical form
  • Good English skills
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flight & visas
  • Full travel & medical insurance. Full assistance will be provided in getting everything you will need ready if you choose our Placement Support Package.

You will need to apply at least 6 weeks in advance in order to have enough time to apply for the relevant permits.

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Duration Price
2 weeks £1,495
4 weeks £1,995
6 weeks £2,495
8 weeks £3,045
10 weeks £3,545
12 weeks £4,095

* Check the latest currency conversions with
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Placements are confirmed with a 20% deposit.

What’s Included:

Project Fee includes;

  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pickup
  • Orientation
  • In-country support
  • All project activities.
What’s not included:
  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Vaccinations

Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

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We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

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Past Participants Say

Berni Gibson
Berni Gibson
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Hi, my name is Berni. I’m from the UK and I have just returned from three months working on the Bird Research project at Jalova, Costa Rica. Well, where do I begin??? much I want to tell you. I’ve always had an interest in wildlife but I will confess to being an ‘armchair’ enthusiast. I love watching anything wildlife related ...
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