Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica

Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica

The most beautiful bird I have ever seen:  the resplendent quetzal.  We ventured specifically to this valley in Costa Rica, where we understood there was a chance of seeing the bird, hired a guide.  At the end of a long, narrow farm road in the Chiriqui Highlands cloud forest we found it.


We clambered up and down muddy steep trails, and started before the sun came up. That day we were lucky, found several pair.


The male has a long 15 inch tail of two streamers that quietly undulate in his wake.  Both the male and female have a blue-green iridescence that shimmers in breathtaking brilliance; as well as fringed wing feathers and a red breast.  Pharomachrus mocinno can only be found in Central America, where they flourish on wild avocados.


Resplendent  Quetzal, Costa Rica (male)

Quetzal, Costa Rica (male)

There are many myths and legends dating back to the Aztecs and Mayans revolving around this sacred bird.  While in the forest that day I noticed that any person–birder, resident, potato farmer, bus driver–who saw this bird, regarded it with respect and awe.  Even as the bird plucked the avocados from the tree we stood under, we mere mortals watched and photographed in silent appreciation.  Sometimes their mouths were full and their faces misshapen as they ate the fruit; but still, they were divine.  Then, as if in jest, this gorgeous bird would spit out the avocado stone in a most unseemly way, and fly away.  But somehow, as it goes with a mesmerizing creature, we still found them exquisite.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


55 thoughts on “Resplendent Quetzal

    • So very glad you liked it HJ. You know how that is with certain creatures and their, to use your words, aura of distinction. 🙂

  1. Exquisite, Indeed! 15 inch tall and with such beautiful colors… Is Costa Rica a good place for bird watching? I love to visit there in the future. 🙂

    • Hi Sue, so glad you liked the quetzal. Although there are increasing banana and coffee plantations here that have carved away the rain forests, there are still substantial forests and wildlife. Great to have you visit, have yourself a great week my friend. 🙂 🙂

  2. Wow, what can I add – the bird is stunning! The green in combination with the red breast is fantastic! I can definitely understand why there would be myths around this bird.

    • Ah, you have a good eye, Ingrid. The resplendent quetzal is in the trogon family — and you know what special birds the trogons are. I hope while you’re in AZ you are able to see more. I saw my first trogon in AZ. 😀

    • Resplendent quetzals are indeed very revered. I’m really happy you embraced this amazing bird, Sarah, and I will thank Athena for you. Thanks so much! 😀

  3. I bet the Resplendent Quetzal fits perfectly the green surroundings of beautiful Costa Rica!… Lovely post dear Jet! ⭐ Sending you all my best wishes!. Aquileana 😀

  4. So much beauty in nature dear Jet! Always in awe of the spectacular creatures you share with us!Despite the difficulties you face,you hold firmly to your purpose and we have the chance to enjoy wildlife in your amazing and well-presented posts!Gorgeous bird,fantastic red and green feathers!
    Its Pharomachrus … name perfectly fits its supreme appearance …Love & hugs to you dear friend 🙂 xxx

    • I thank you for your attentive comment, dear Doda. I like all the birds on this planet and feel they all have something wonderful to add to the world…but still, I would not be honest if I didn’t add that the resplendent quetzal truly is supremely beautiful. I like knowing the translation, Doda. And as always, thank you so much. 😀 😀

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