This travel tale is brought to you by Sarah Knight, Pre-Trip Services Manager at Natural Habitat Adventures.


Sarah and her husband Roger. (c) Sarah Knight

For people who don’t think they are into birding, a visit to a destination like Costa Rica can offer convincing reasons to reconsider! A beautiful bird called the resplendent quetzal is found in the cloud forests of Central America and, although protected in Costa Rica, the species as a whole is threatened due to habitat loss. While on a recent Costa Rica adventure with Nat Hab, my husband and I spent two nights at Savegre Mountain Lodge in the Talamanca Mountains, where a nesting pair of quetzals was taking turns sitting on their eggs in a tree nearby.


The female resplendent quetzal. (c) Sarah Knight

The quetzal is brilliantly colored with a red breast and blue and green back and wings. The male has a spectacularly long tail with two curving tail feathers. The pair was incubating its eggs in a hole in a dead tree, and we could always tell if the male was in the nest because his long tail feathers would be sticking out the side of the tree.

One morning we went to the tree hoping to watch the pair switch, so that the female who had been in the nest all night could eat. The female came out of the nest and was calling to the male, but he did not come. We stayed for a long time and were starting to get worried about why the male was not coming to relieve his mate. I thought the worst – had he fallen prey to a larger bird overnight?? We finally took a walk down the road and came across a group of other travelers who had seen him in the company of another female! I felt both relief that he was okay and a little annoyed on behalf of the female that he was not taking his responsibilities more seriously! He did eventually return to his nest so that his mate could get something to eat.


The male resplendent quetzal. (c) Sarah Knight.

During the few days that I spent with this pair, I not only got to see one of the most beautiful and spectacular bird species in the world, but I also got to witness their behavior in a way that is not possible unless you spend several days with the same individual members of a species. It was a fascinating experience I’ll never forget!

Sarah was on our Costa Rica Wilderness Explorer trip. Below are a few of the other gorgeous birds you can see when you visit Costa Rica with Natural Habitat Adventures and WWF.

Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing. (c) Eric Rock

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet macaw. (c) Patrick Endres


Costa Rican mealy parrot, also known as the green-headed Amazon parrot. (c) Patrick Endres

Chesnut-mandibled Toucan

Chesnut-mandibled toucan. (c) Patrick Endres


Golden-hooded tanager. (c) Dysmorodrepanis (Ulf Sauerland) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons