Resplendent quetzals in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica


This video says about itself:

Wildlife, Hummingbirds and Resplendent Quetzal in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

27 March 2014. As I said in my earlier blog post, that morning we went to a resplendent quetzal nest in San Gerardo de Dota.

Resplendent quetzals make their nest in woodpeckers’ holes in trees, which they enlarge.

Resplendent quetzal tail, 27 March 2014

Male and female quetzals take turns at sitting on the eggs. The male’s tail is usually too long for the nest. So it sticks out, like at this nest.

This morning, the female left the nest at 5:15. The usual time for shifts on the nest is three hours.

Resplendent quetzal male's head and tail, 27 March 2014

At 9:07, so after almost four hours, the male gets his head out of the nest. What takes her so long in taking over?

Resplendent quetzal male on branch, 27 March 2014

Four minutes later, the male leaves the nest and sits down on a branch.

Resplendent quetzal male with tail, 27 March 2014

It is not easy to photograph a male resplendent quetzal showing all of the bird, including the long beautiful tail feathers. And resplendent quetzals here in Costa Rica don’t even have tails as long as their Mexican colleagues; as TED Geography writes:

Today, the Quetzal’s range actually extends from southern Mexico through Western Panama in mountain regions with an elevation of 4,000 to 10,000 feet. At some point in time the [sub]species of Pharomachrus mocinno were separated into a Northern and Southern [sub]species by the stretch of lowlands that covers parts of southern Guatemala, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. The southern species is Pharomachrus mocinno costaricensis and differs from the northern species by its shorter, narrower tail plumes on the male. Costa Rica’s Quetzals are more fortunate, since Costa Rica marshalled funds by abolishing its army in 1948 to establish an extensive system of national parks and wildlife reserves to protect the habitat of the Quetzal.

Resplendent quetzal male back to nest, 27 March 2014

At 9:26, the male gets back into the nest, as the female has not arrived yet and the eggs should not get cold.

Resplendent quetzal male back into nest, 27 March 2014

Resplendent quetzal male tail at mossy tree nest, 27 March 2014

Later that day, further in the valley, at 16:45, we see another quetzal nest. That tree is more mossy, but the male’s tail sticking out is just as beautiful.

At 17:15, we are back at the first nest. The male’s tail is still sticking out. Has the female left him in the lurch all day?

We don’t know that, because we were not present there from the morning till late in the afternoon. However, we did see the female arrive at 17:25. The male got out.

Resplendent quetzal female back to nest, 27 March 2014

17:42: after putting her head into the nest opening a few times tentatively, the female disappears into the hole for her turn.

She should not have waited a long time, as squirrels sometimes use the intervals between the bird couple’s turns to steal eggs.

Quetzals cannot live in captivity; making them a symbol of freedom in Central America.

According to TED Geography in the USA, about the resplendent quetzal:

This famous bird has a long history, as it was the spiritual protector of the Mayan chiefs. It is said that the Quetzal would accompany them everywhere, aiding them in battle, and dying when they died. Legend has it that when Spanish Conquistado[r] Pedro de Alvarado and his Spaniards attacked the Mayans in 1524, the Quetzal appeared crying out and pecking at Alvarado.

At the exact moment when Alvarado pierced Tecum Uman [the chief], the sacred Quetzal fell silent and plummeted to earth, covering the body of the regal [Mayan] with its long and soft green plumes. After keeping a deathwatch through the night, the bird that rose from the cacique’s [chieftain's] lifeless body was transformed. It was no longer the pure green of jade. Its breast had soaked up the blood of the fallen warrior, and so, too, became crimson, the shade of Mayan blood, as it has remained to this day (Maslow, p.19).

The Mayans proved just as unlucky as their chief; 30,000 of them succumbed to the superior firepower of the Spaniards.

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5 thoughts on “Resplendent quetzals in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

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