Ian’s Bird of the Week – Resplendent Quetzal ~ Ian Montgomery
It looks like your collective prayers worked, thank you very much, so here is the legendary Resplendent Quetzal, the main goal of my visit to Costa Rica.
After a post-flight night in a hotel in the capital, San Jose, I drove to hotel called the Hotel Savegre ( http://www.savegre.co.cr/ ) in a town called San Gerardo de Dota in a valley in the mountains often now called Quetzal valley. On the following morning, I went out with an excellent guide called Melvin Fernandez who is attached to the hotel ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and within two hours he had taken me to a Quetzal-favoured avocado tree containing two pairs of Quetzals and I had taken photos to my hearts content.
The Resplendent Quetzal is regarded as the most spectacular bird in the Americas, and it would be easy to agree. The males are just sensational as you can see in the first three photos. At this time of the year the tail streamers are short, which actually makes photographing them easier as you can fit the whole bird in more easily. They shed the streamers in July and they gradually grow back month by month to their maximum extent of up to 64cm/25in in time for the breeding season.
The female, fourth photo, shows the birds Trogon affinities – they are members of the Trogon family, Trogonidae – and she is quite gorgeous in her own right, though completely eclipsed by her amazing partner.
The adjective legendary is literally the case and the legends and myths focus on three aspects: the divine nature of the bird, the the defeat of the Mayans by the Spanish and its symbolic representation of liberty. You can read all about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resplendent_Quetzal and here http://blog.guatemalangenes.com/2009/03/legend-of-quetzal.html so I won’t repeat the details but just say that they add to the magic of the bird.
The tail streamers are not tail feathers – the tail is quite trogon-like – but erectible extensions of four of the feathers of the tail coverts, as you can see in the fifth photo. Similarly, the cloak-like feathers across the breast are the wing coverts.
Having photographed these amazing birds, mision completa as they say in Spanish, I was then free to relax and enjoy the rest of my stay in Costa Rica. The adventure, however, had just started and I have plenty of other interesting material for future birds of the week.
If you want to see the Quetzal, I highly recommend the Savegre Hotel. It’s family owned, has delightful gardens and its own primary cloud forest (the hotel is at 2,200m 7,200ft) and lots of trails, is on the Savegre River and Melvin tells me the best months for the Quetzal are February and March – I was there in the wet season and it rained heavily every afternoon.
I’m now back in California, due, flights permitting, to return to Australia tonight and looking forward to getting home.
I am glad our prayers for your Quetzal were so speedily answered as were the ones for traveling mercies. That bird is a prize catch for most birdwatchers heading to Costa Rica.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:4-5 KJV)
To see Ian’s Trogonidae photos – Click Here