Resplendent Quetzal

Visitors to Trogon Lodge and the area of San Gerardo de Dota, even those who are not avid birdwatchers, are amazed when they get to observe a Resplendent Quetzal (pronounced ket-sal) considered as one of the most gorgeous birds in the New World, and sacred bird to the Mayans, that inhabits this area year round.

With its metallic green plumage, crimson breast and belly and its incredible streamer-like feathers, watching a maleQuetzal in its magical fly, is a unique, breathtaking experience.

Quetzals can be found in the forest of Central America, from the south of México to Panama. Scientists recognize two sub-species: Pharomachrus mocinno moccino, found in the south of México, Guatemala and some regions of El Salvador & Honduras, and the Pharamochrus mocinno costarricencis, in the south of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the North of Panamá. Of all the countries where quetzals are found, the best chance to see them in the wild is probably in Costa Rica, where elevated cloud forests harbor important populations of the species.

In the past, indigenous populations of the New World admired the beauty and grandness of the Quetzal and were frequently represented next to their Gods, in sculptures. The Mayans called the Quetzal KUKUL, it was their Holy Bird. In the Aztec mythology, there was Quetzalcoatl, "The Feathered Serpent". The nobility of these indigenous groups used the bird’s long streamer-like feathers for headdresses and cloaks. Chroniclers report that they did not kill the birds for the feathers instead caught them alive, had the plumes removed, and then returned them to the wild to grow new ones.

Feeding Habitats

Quetzals belong to the Trogonidae family. Feeding habitats of all members of this family are very similar. They eat mainly berries, wild figs and avocados, from the wild avocado tree, but they also feed from insects and few lizards.

The Quetzal plucks fruit off the avocado tree while flying, and then perches for a while before swallowing the entire fruit. Later, it regurgitates the seeds, and that’s why they are the only disperses of seeds for these trees, in a symbiotic relationship. Since there is a high presence of these trees in San Gerardo de Dota, available year round, it offers the bird the opportunity to remain here without needing to move from the Valley.


The breeding season is usually from late March to April. The male chooses its partner and courtships her flying high, in circles and then descends vigorously and perches in the treetops. The female usually lays two pale blue eggs, with a size of about 35 x 30 mm. Both parents incubate the egg for 17 or 18 days and young birds stay with the parents for about a month, time after which they complete the plumage and are ready to fly.

Los Quetzales National Park, Eolic Project and area attractions

Los Quetzales National Park, located 9 km North of Trogon Lodge, is the most recently declared Costa Rican National Park, officially inaugurated in January, 2006. The Park offers 5000 hectares (12,300 acres) of forest, where three different life zones blend together: Premontane Rainforest, Low montane rainforest and montane rainforest. Elevation rangesfrom 2000 to 3000 meters above sea level (6,800 to 9,800 feet). At this high elevation, temperatures range from 0 to 17C with an annual rainfall of 2500 to 3500 mm per year.

Los Quetzales National Park is also a very important part of Los Santos Rainforest Reserve, declared in 1975, and thatcovers a full extension of 62,00 hectares (153,205 acres). The area gets its name because most of the towns belonging to the Reserve are named after a Saint (Santo or Santa in Spanish). Therefore, we can find the towns of Santa María, San Marcos, San Pablo, San Gerardo (where we are located), among others. This ritual of naming towns after a Saint was a very common practice between thefirst settlers of the area.

Trogón Lodge sits on an area of 34 hectares (85 acres) where most of the land is dedicated to our own Private Reserve, with primary and secondary tropical cloud forest, and where only 10% of this land has been used for construction. Dominated by trees such as wild avocados, oak, small cypress, canuela and bamboo, among others. These forests are also characterized by a high incidence of epiphytic plants. The wild avocados, cedrillos and wild blackberries found in the area are one of the main sources of food for the Resplendent Quetzal. Besides the oak forest and trees contribute highly to clean the air, though the fixation and storage of carbon and liberation of oxygen. Conserving this natural heritage is one of our main interests.

The fauna is diverse, where more than 175 different species of birds have been identified. The area, is home to Resplendent Quetzal, who lives here year round, as well as other species such as Trogons, Hummingbirds, Great Tinamou, sooty robin, woodpeckers, among many. Other animal species include as felines, tapirs, brockets and coyotes.

This is also an area of rivers, where the Savegre River plays a very important role, as host of a large population ofRainbow Trout (Salmo gairdneri) and a supply of potable water through ruralaqueducts and considered as one of the cleanest rivers in Central America. Other important rivers in the area are the Naranjo, Division, Blanco and Brujo.