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4 Exotic Places For Avid Bird-Watchers To Move To

For the avid “birder”, the hobby is a great excuse to go globetrotting to try and spot these colourful winged creatures, with every corner of the world playing host to endemic species. Unfortunately, however, not many of us have the time to jet off to every continent.

But what if there was a way to fill your life with bird-watching opportunities by incorporating this into your day-to-day routine? This article explores the top countries that, if you’re determined, you can permanently resettle in to get your regular fix of birding.

Amazona versicolor – St Lucia Parrot

1. St Lucia

St Lucia boasts six endemic species, the highest tally in the whole Caribbean. This includes the island’s national bird, the St Lucia Parrot — recognizable for its rainbow plumage and blue face — as well as the St Lucia Oriole and Pewee. In total, the island supports some 180 different types of avian life. Hotspots for observing it include the Millet Bird Sanctuary, the Des Cartier Rain-forest Trail, and the Vieux Fort Wetlands.

Long stays in St Lucia are relatively straightforward, allowing the option of single and multiple-entry visas. The former allows you to live and work in the country for up to three months, so long as you also get a work permit. The latter gives you a year’s stay, similarly requiring a work permit for you to seek employment there. To move to this Caribbean island nation with permanent residency, you will need to have extended your temporary stay for a minimum of two years before applying to the Ministry of Labour.

However, this is not the only option available. St Lucia is one of a handful of countries offering a citizenship by investment (CBI) scheme, allowing you not just to reside there, but also to work, vote, and gain all the other rights as those born in the country. As CS Global Partners assures, this can be a suitable option for people in various situations, including: “individuals or business people looking to establish overseas businesses; families seeking better global mobility, and professionals who want to broaden their horizons”, among others.


2. New Zealand

New Zealand deserves a special place on our list, as seemingly every inch of its islands is steeped in wonderful winged creatures. Before human civilization reached the country, it was dominated by our feathered friends — no wonder the national icon is the Kiwi. Recently, paleontologists discovered evidence that the largest parrot in history was an inhabitant of New Zealand.

Today, 245 species are said to have originated from the islands — an amazing challenge for any bird watcher worth their salt. Beautiful spots that ought to yield incredible sights are the North Island — specifically Kapiti — and the South, where you will find the Oamaru and Yellow-eyed Penguins, the latter sadly being endangered. On the Chatham Islands, the keen eyed among you can spot the rare Shore Plover, not to mention the Chatham Albatross.

If this sounds like the long-term future you dream of, making it a reality is relatively easy. According to the government’s immigration website: “you can live and work in New Zealand indefinitely as a permanent resident — but you don’t need to become a New Zealand citizen”. Obtaining a residency often starts with getting a temporary work or study visa first, although others, such as the Skilled Migrant visa, give applicants residency from the get-go. To get citizenship, you need to have lived in the country for at least five years, and only have traveled outside for short periods of time.


3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica plays host to scores of exotic bird life, with numerous nature reserves boasting hundreds of species in the verdant country. We’re talking sublime, colourful breeds like toucans, hummingbirds, quetzals among many others. In the South, the Wilson Botanical Gardens are home to Crested Oropendolas, and they are also a reliable place to catch a glimpse of the Turquoise Cotinga. If you visit the Curi-Cancha Reserve, you could spot the moustache-sporting Three-wattled Bellbird, the Blue-crowned (Amazonian) Motmot, and the Orange-bellied Trogon.

To permanently set up camp in Costa Rica, you need to apply for a work or residence visa with the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. If you are retiring, however, Costa Rica’s Pensionado Program may be just the ticket to bird paradise. Those in receipt of at least $1,000 or equivalent in income or pension payments are eligible to live in the country and will receive an identification or residency card once their application is accepted. Similar to New Zealand, naturalization takes around five years before you can qualify as a citizen.

Arctic Tern

4. Iceland

While Iceland’s national bird may be the Lundi Puffin, this is far from the only thing that makes the frosted nation a haven for birdwatchers. There are around 85 different species regularly spotted across the country, though roughly 330 have been recorded there in total. Iceland even has its own designated bird-watching cliffs in the Westfjords at Látrabjarg, with Iceland Travel noting that it boasts “Lake Mývatn’s stunning scenery and a multitude of species, or the Seltjarnarnes peninsula just outside of Reykjavík where birds nest among the golf course in spring”. These include beauties like the Great Skua, the European Golden Plover, and the Arctic Tern.

Moving to Iceland is easy if you are a citizen of the EU/EEA, but harder if you are a United States national. Should you receive a job offer, you can acquire a work visa. In this scenario, your employer has to demonstrate that no existing residents could have filled your post, so work permits from abroad are competitive. To gain permanent residency, you must have lived in Iceland for four years, specifically if you had an expert worker’s permit, or entered the country to reunite with your family.

Photo Credits

Amazona versicolor by Josh Moore on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved

Kiwi – Wikimedia Creative Commons

Quetzal – Wikimedia Creative Commons

Arctic Tern – pixabay

Guest Author Bio
Joe Steen

Joe Steen is a freelance writer living in East London who writes about cinema, music, travel, literature and culture. If you’d like to get in touch, his email is [email protected]



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