A Handful Of Quetzals, Birder Of The Year Trip #4

The continuing saga of our WildBird Birder Of The Year Costa Rica Trip. (My eternal and sincere gratitude and thanks to Swarovski Optik and WildBird!)

Quetzals are on everybody’s Costa Rican must get bird list right?
They are incredibly beautiful, and seemingly an effort to find. Well even in my case considering we flew over 2500 miles on a red-eye flight, maneuvered and dodged traffic in San Jose twice, summmited two mountain passes by car, dropped down at least a 5 % grade wet, slippery road, coming to a stop in an amazingly beautiful valley, having to eat and sleep BEFORE we saw them, I’d say was a bit of an effort!
The plan was made during dinner – those who wanted could rise and meet outside at 5:30, the rest would meet at 7:00 for breakfast. Al and Amy took advantage of “sleeping in”, Clay, Alex, Raphael and I were up with the birds out looking for Quetzals.
Our first one of the day was this male on the right without a long tail. He was quickly joined by a female. She is in the lower left of this photo. Gorgeous! Click on the picture for a larger view.

They were quickly replaced by this lovely fellow. By now (what, say 5:45?) I was elated! THREE Quetzals in 15 minutes! Even though I didn’t get a front view, I could see the beauty.
Then ANOTHER gorgeous boy showed up giving us stunning views!
Number 4 arrived looking for breakfast also. They love the avocado trees and feed intensely on the fruit. You can see the ends of the long tail if you look closely.
Quetzals seem to spend a lot of time looking up, scanning the sky for predators or competition?


Then I thought “Ohh! He’s yawning! Quick! Get a cool picture! But no – he’s regurgitating an avocado seed. Ewww. Our guide Alex says there was a study done and the results were that seeds barfed by Quetzals sprout quicker in the rainforest than seeds that fall to the ground. Interesting.
I may rub folks the wrong way here, but I gotta say it, so I hope you can forgive me if you need to. How can I look at a bird such as this without seeing the glory and creativity of my God? What possible evolutionary purpose could all these extraneous, decorative trappings and colors on this bird serve other than to say, I’m beautiful beyond all reason or explanation, so just drink it in and enjoy? I marveled at the diversity and stunning, speech halting, mind boggling beauty of the birds of Costa Rica. To me they almost shouted out the beauty and glory of God. They provided a back drop of music in a deep time of worship. I was overwhelmed by His goodness. I think He was smiling.
And well, these incredible birds have to eat, which sometimes is not so pretty. And we witnessed an event that even Alex in all his years of birding and living in Costa Rica had never seen. One preparing a lizard for a trip to the gizzard;
We spent nearly 20 minutes watching this bird masticate the lizard. Kind of sick but incredibly fascinating. Here is my one minute wobbly video. I didn’t have a tripod. Five Quetzals in one day. Nearly unbelieveable!
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2 Responses to A Handful Of Quetzals, Birder Of The Year Trip #4

  1. Lauren says:

    Of course HE was smiling! Awesome photos. This trip will stay with you for a long time I’d say! Love you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed reading this, and what amazing pictures! We have a wonderful God who delights in delighting us.

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