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Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica 2024-2025

Used to be called "precious" by Aztecs, resplendent quetzal is considered to be the most beautiful bird on Earth

Best time: November–April

Resplendent Quetzal
Resplendent Quetzal
Resplendent Quetzal
Resplendent Quetzal

Alone or in flocks, this bird is very difficult to spot. It is one of the extinct species and mostly resides in natural reserves in Guatemala and Costa Rica. The natural habitat of this stunningly gracious green and red bird is cloud forest, which in Costa Rica is located in the Highlands and has extensively been ruined by humans. Although they usually are in the canopy, for the breeding season most of males chase females lower where they can meet up for some courtship and be visible to you.

Visit Monteverde or San Gerardo de Dota for the biggest chance of seeing the quetzal. With their long colourful feathers and melodious smooth songs, these birds will catch your imagination during your trip to Costa Rica!

Practical info

When is the best time to see the Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica and why?

You can see the Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica during the dry season between November and April, which makes it easier to identify the brightly-colored males in open lower regions of trees during the mating season. During this season, the quetzals leave the canopy and come down more often, making them more visible to bird-watchers. Show more

Which two locations are best to spot the Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica?

If you are planning to visit Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and San Gerardo de Dota are two of the best places to spot the Resplendent Quetzal, as they provide the perfect habitat for these birds. The cooler and mistier parts of these locations attract quetzals, and the birds are most active and visible in the early morning. Show more

What can I do to maximize my chances of seeing the Resplendent Quetzal in the wild?

During the breeding season between February and May, your chances of spotting the Resplendent Quetzal are higher. To recognize the bird's call and habitat, you should hire a guide who is certified. Be patient, quiet, and attentive, and you may soon hear the distinctive call and be rewarded with the sight of the beautiful Resplendent Quetzal in the wild. Show more

What is the natural habitat of Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica like?

In Costa Rica, the natural habitat for the Resplendent Quetzal is the cloud forest. The area has moist tropical or subtropical forests that are covered with low clouds. The humid and misty environment makes it easy for moss and lichens to thrive, which are a primary food source for hummingbirds and the Resplendent Quetzal, making it an adequate environment for the species. Show more

What are some of the unique bird species that can be found in Costa Rica?

There are over 900 bird species in Costa Rica, including migratory birds and endemics. The Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Keel-billed Toucan, and Scarlet Macaw are some of the bird species that are unique to Costa Rica. Other birds found in the area are the Blue-crowned Motmot, Turquoise-browed Motmot, hummingbirds, and Yellow warbler, all of which are fascinating to observe and capture on camera. Show more

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