Vignettes from a Lifetime of Travel

Q is for Quetzal!


No – I wasn’t stuck … I’ve been to Quebec and Queens and I’ve tasted quail (and quiche!!)!  But I’m lucky to have had the privilege of spotting what must be one of the most beautiful birds on the planet.

The Resplendent Quetzal is actually the national bird of Guatemala and they’ve named their currency unit the Quetzal.   But its easier to find the elusive and threatened bird in Costa Rica where there’s been a effort to protect habitats in national and private parks.

The bird with its brilliant reds and iridescent greens is surprisingly well camouflaged in the forests.  The males are more brightly coloured and during the mating season they grow 2 very long tail feathers.   The birds were revered by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs who used the tail feathers in headdresses.

It was early morning in the cloud forest of Monteverde,  Costa Rica (2017) and we were coming to the end of our escorted tour without success.   Of course we’d seen lots of birds on the trail but everyone in the small group was hoping for a glimpse of the Quetzal.   I don’t know who spotted him first – but it was just great – such excitement!!!  Word spread quickly and other visitors arrived.   No one spoke.   It was one of those very special moments.

All I had was my phone and I took this photo through the guide’s telescope.   I decided that morning to buy a camera.




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