Tropical land cover change has negatively affected numerous migratory bird populations. Forest restoration can augment migrant wintering habitat. However, almost no information exists about factors that influence migrant use of tropical restoration sites. We sampled migrant birds in young restoration sites in Costa Rica from February 2006 to April 2008 to determine how vegetation height, planting design, season, and landscape forest cover influenced capture rates of four declining species. We also documented total numbers of migratory species and individuals captured in each planting design treatment; each site had a control treatment where seedlings were not planted, an island treatment where seedlings were planted in patches, and a plantation treatment where seedlings were planted to cover the entire area. Sites varied in landscape forest cover within 500 m buffers. Three out of four focal species were captured significantly more often in plantation treatments than island or control treatments. Two of the four species showed seasonal patterns and one species was captured more often in high-vegetation sites. Greater numbers of species and individuals were captured in plantation treatments compared to island and control treatments. The plantation planting design increased migrant use more quickly than the island planting design. When resources are available, we recommend planting plantation-style to rapidly increase the value of restoration sites to a range of species, particularly those that use woody vegetation. When resources are more limited, planting islands may be a cost-effective, although not as ecologically effective, alternative that supports a diversity of migrant species compared to unplanted controls.