Few birds can claim legendary status, except the Resplendent Quetzal. To see it free, you have to go the Cloud Forest, either in Monteverde or in Cerro Buenavista, hike your way inside the dense canopy, and wait. Luckily, the conservation tourism efforts put forward by people in both areas ensure that we have easier access to them, while they live and nest in essentially undisturbed areas. Mountain hotels like Paraiso Quetzal Lodge are making the difference, protecting this sacred bird for the new generations to delight on their sight. The communities are also organized, with families cooperating to keep track of birds and nests, alerting the guides of its location to guarantee tourists a sight, but also raising data on activity of the birds that can be used for scientific research.
I could simply describe this bird as marvelous. The male has a scarlet belly and chest, with iridescent emerald green wing coverts, back and head. The wing feathers are actually green, while the underside of the true tail is white. The bill is yellow, and the iris is deep black. On the top of the head, some orange feathers break the green pattern. The most bizarre feature is the long “tail” feathers, measuring more than its standard body length, which breeding males carry fully grown from November to around May, at the end of the breeding season. They use those feathers to compete with other males to attract a female. While the female is not as exuberant, it is also a beauty. Their preferred food is the “Aguacatillo” fruit, which translates to “little avocado”. There are many species of this tree, which grow and bear fruit at different elevations and different times of the year, provoking what is known as altitudinal migration.