Birdwatching - San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

My name is Greivin Gonzalez, resident guide (bird specialist) and manager at Trogon Lodge, San Gerardo de Dota. 
I’ve been a passionate for birds since I was a kid. More than 20 years ago, when there were no regulations in Costa Rica for those who wanted to keep wild animals at home, some people had parrots, monkeys, raccoons, and squirrels; but others, like my father, had birds.
Gladly, things have changed in Costa Rica, and there are new wild animal laws, but back in the day, my father’s hobby woke up a passion in me; a natural way to share my day to day with birds, and to learn from my father everything he knew about them. That way, my backyard turned to be a small eco system.
Dad gets very excited retelling these stories to his friends, as how he used to take care and reproduce birds in captivity. So, when the birds were ready enough to defend themselves, eat and go out on the forest, he and I would free them in areas where we knew they had enough food, so they could reproduce and live in their natural habitat.
Nowdays, that I lead responsible birdwatching tours, I transmit this passion to the visitors, and I get really excited to share with them everything I know about bird behavior and its characteristics.
Today, I want to share with you my recommendations and good practices for those who like or want to become birdwatchers:
•    Birdwatching, is a beautiful activity. We may enjoy them without hindering their privacy. Thats why we must keep a low voice at all times, be as silent as possible. 
•    Wear dark clothes, preferably: green, brown, dark blue or gray. Do not wear whie clothes or caps. 
•    Bring your insect repellant, water, and if you have a pair of binoculars, bring them! If you carry a bird book, make sure to keep it handy, so once the tour is over, we can make a proper identificacion of the seen birds. 
•    Keep in mind that the bird that you want to see, might be at a certain height. This would probably require for you to hold to a branch or twig to have a better view. These practices, scare away the birds, as they get scared with the sudden movement. Please avoid rapid and sudden moves. Image how a feline searching for prey, would sneak up, making no noise, not even breaking a twig, to avoid scaring the prey away.
•    When photographing birds it is VERY IMPORTANT to avoid using the flash. When you do, you will probably provoke the bird to fly away and it may suffer an accident (Hitting a tree or a branch), being blurred by the light and low visibility. 
•    When the guide locates a bird on a tree, he might use a green laser pointer, to help visitors with bird location, instead of moving his arms around, specially because there are many shy bird spcies and less movement done, the better. (Guides will point out approximately 10 centimenters below where the bird is, never striaght on the bird)

If we follow htis advise, it will be easier to understand bird’s behavior, as well as how to protect them, and return home with a wonderful memory and photographies.


Savegre River declared as a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO

By: Andrea Víquez

The Savegre River is an area rich in bio diversity, with more that 65 endemic flower species. The area hosts 20% of the flora, 54% of the mammals and 59% of the birds of Costa Rica.

Approximately three months ago, the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco) declared our Savegre River as a Reserve of the Biosphere.

A reserve of the biosphere are designated to promote a sustainable development that considers both the community and nature.

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This process is done by promoting conservation of the biodiversity, a participatory dialogue in the community, exchange of knowledge and respect to the cultural values of the habitants.

The basin of the Savegre River includes the cantons of Dota, Tarruzu, Perez Zeledon and Quepos.  Its habitants work mainly in agriculture, cattle industry, tourism, and coffee plantations, achieving a strong commitment with the protection of water resources.

At the same time, the hoteliers of the area, along with the President of the country, signed an agreement to reject the use of plastic straws, and to reduce the use of plastic in general.

As part of its sustainable projects, since 2014 Trogon Lodge has received the “Ecological Blue Flag award”, in the micro-basin category. Besides, has established new procedures like eliminating the use of plastic straws and instead using bamboo straws and removers.

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These initiatives are part of an ample sustainable program implemented by Trogon Lodge, that Works both internally with this coworkers as well as with the visitors. If you wish to learn more about our sustainable practices please visit our website, where you will find a whole section about this subject.

Little by little, huge changes are made!

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.