Resplendent Quetzal- Costa Rican Bird of the Day

By patrick on

The Resplendent Quetzal is one of Costa Rica’s star bird species. This rather incredibly spectacular bird lives in humid highland forests from southern Mexico south to western Panama but is most easily seen in Costa Rica. Although it also occurs at several sites in the other countries in its range (including Guatemala where it is the national bird), Costa Rica has the highest number of easily accessible sites to see this vividly colored trogon as well as many guides that can take you to see a quetzal.

Male Resplendent Quetzal from the highlands of Costa Rica.

Male Resplendent Quetzals have really long tails!

Although the Resplendent Quetzal is uncommon, if you spend a day in good habitat (and especially from February to April), you have a fair chance of seeing one of two of these stellar birds.

A quetzal from below.

One of the keys to seeing quetzals is finding the small wild avocado fruits they prefer. If you find a fruiting avocado in or near good highland forest, hang out by the tree long enough and there’s a good chance that a quetzal will eventually make an appearance. Other nice birds like Black Guan, Three-wattled Bellbird, and Emerald Toucanet could also show up in the meantime.

A Quetzal with an avocado.

It also pays to know its vocalizations. Male quetzals give a distinctive whistled song and both birds also make a cackling noise.

Resplendent Quetzal song with stream noise and other highland species.

Although you can see the Resplendent Qutezal in Costa Rica in just about any humid forest above 1,500 meters in elevation, some of the best sites are:

  • Forests in the Monteverde area.
  • The San Gerardo de Dota area (Savegre and other nearby sites).
  • Providencia-Copey de Dota Road (El Toucanet Lodge).
  • Paraiso de Quetzales and Mirador de Quetzales on Cerro de la Muerte.
  • Highland forests on Poasand Barva Volcanos.

    Watching a quetzal in the San Gerardo de Dota valley.

    A male Resplendent Quetzal at a nest.

Come see a Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica! Learn more about this and over 500 of Costa Rica’s bird species in the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app.

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