Stately Female Quetzal

While the male is more “showy” with his very long two green feathers that really impress when he is flying (that I can never capture in the camera), the female is just as colorful and maybe more “stately” in my opinion. Only one shot here, but you can see my other photos in this trips “Trip Gallery Sub-gallery”: Resplendent Quetzal Female.

Resplendent Quetzal Female, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

And you who have visited the tropics might look at her tail and say that she looks like a Trogon – and you would be basically correct, in that the Quetzal is in the Trogon family, just a little more colorful and showy than most Trogons, though some of them are pretty colorful too! Just no long green feathers like the Quetzal Male.  :-)

Today is the day I leave San Gerardo de Dota to return to my home in Atenas, Alajuela Province, but I will continue sharing images from these beautiful mountains over the next week or so and be developing a new trip gallery, so keep reading! :-)

¡Pura Vida!

A “Parade” of Quetzals

Well, I call it a “parade” because I’ve never seen so many Resplendent Quetzals in one place before. I got a different guide yesterday after getting no good Quetzal photos on Christmas day and told him that my goal was to get some good photos of Quetzals! He asked “Are you willing to pay $5 to go on someone’s private property?” I said “Yes!” and he said “We will go to the best place to get photos of Quetzals.” And it was! But I didn’t even get the name of it, if it has a name! It is behind a farmer’s house where he has a bunch of Wild Avocado trees planted and built several perches near them because they like to perch before and after grabbing a Wild Avocado. Note that these are much smaller or about 1/4 the size of our human Avocados. It is interesting to see them eat one. They put the whole thing in their mouth and eat all the Avocado meat off the seed, then spit the seed out. :-)

Here is only one photo because of slow internet here, but you can go to the only sub-gallery I’ve created yet in my trip galleries and see all 17 shots and most are different individuals with 2 or 3 photographed twice. It is simply called Resplendent Quetzal Male gallery and will ultimately be a part of this trip’s gallery. Tomorrow I’ll do the same thing with the female Quetzal which were there in almost equal number with the males who would fly acrobatically over the females to impress them. And if you are interested in seeing some very different photos of Quetzals from my earlier trips to San Gerardo de Dota and Monteverde, check out my Resplendent Quetzal GALLERY going back to my first trip here in 2009! :-) Quetzals are just one of the special treats in Costa Rica!

Resplendent Quetzal Male, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica.

¡Pura Vida!

FAVE BIRDS: Resplendent Quetzal

The first in my series of favorite bird photos since moving to Costa Rica is almost everyone’s favorite, the Resplendent Quetzal (eBird description) found in the cloud forests of Costa Rica and some other Central American countries that is an endangered species or “near threatened.” See my other photos of this beauty in my CR Resplendent Quetzal Gallery with photos from three different trips to San Gerardo de Dota and two trips to Monteverde, the two best places to find and photograph this colorful bird in Costa Rica. Note that it is the national bird of Guatemala, but on my three trips there I never saw one.

Resplendent Quetzal, San Gerardo de Dota


On my first trip to Costa Rica in 2009 on a birding tour, one of our stops was the Hotel Savegre in San Gerardo de Dota and I made this close-up here of what I think is a younger male Resplendent Quetzal than the one in the top photo because his tail was not as long. They took us to a nearby farm and pointed to a wild avocado tree where Quetzales would come to eat if we waited patiently. Most everyone sat on a little hill beside the tree to see the birds when they came in and that was where I started . . .

But when someone else crawled down under the tree to shoot from below, I decided to also be different and joined him. A good decision! we were much closer to the birds when they flew in and that is how I got this closeup shot of a young male in brilliant Christmas colors that served as my Christmas card one year! The other shot above this is I think of a more mature adult with long flowing tail that was made this year in January during a week stay at the remodeled and enlarged Hotel Savegre! I love it there! 🙂

San Gerardo de Dota

I love all of San Gerardo de Dota and have had good experiences in 2 other lodges there, Trogon Lodge and the simple little cabins at Cabinas El Quetzal, then called Mariam’s Cabinas. But without a doubt, Hotel Savegre is my favorite for service, food and facilities plus the number of birds seen. See my photo galleries listed below for photos from each location.


I found it a little more difficult to find Quetzales in Monteverde, but they are there and you will see in my galleries I got some good photos there too including a nesting couple. I just prefer San Gerardo de Dota. One trip to Monteverde was with the Costa Rica Birding Club and we stayed in cabins. My solo trip was at Monteverde Lodge and Gardens which I highly recommend with a great restaurant and super guides to guarantee you find birds of all kinds, including the Quetzal. Plus it is very good birding on the lodge’s large property of forest and gardens. I love it there too! 🙂

My Trip Galleries that include Quetzales

“Not all those who wander are lost”

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

¡Pura Vida!

Resplendent Quetzal

This morning at 5:15 I head out with my guide Marina in his pickup to where he knows that the Quetzal feeds for breakfast. We get there and sure enough, by the time the sun provides enough light, they’re having breakfast and perching in various trees. At our spot we saw 2 males and 2 females. You can frequently see them at Monteverde but almost always here in San Gerardo de Dota. I waited until this morning because the hotel was full over the weekend and thus I had the guide to myself, solo!

Male Resplendent Quetzal

Female Resplendent Quetzal

NOTE: This is the national bird of Guatemala, but if you want to see one, it easier find in Costa Rica! 🙂

¡Pura Vida!

Postponing the Magical

Yes, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica is magical, if for no other reason, it is the best place to see and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal, the feature photo I made on my first trip to Costa Rica way back in 2009.

For next week I had plans for my “social distancing” of people in Atenas by being one of the few (or maybe only) tourist at the best hotel in San Gerardo de Dota, Hotel Savegre. I can find enough birds there to keep me and my camera happy by just walking around their grounds, plus their guide takes me away from the hotel some mornings as I photograph birds that can be found only in the cloud forest mountains adjacent to Quetzal National Park (park closed now for coronavirus safety). Yes, I was planning to buck the system and all the recommendations to stay home by going there next week!   🙂   But fate or “God’s intervention of the stupid” has caused me to . . . 

Postpone Savegre Lodge to a Later Month

Monday morning’s visit back to the dentist informed me that my infected tooth needs another week of antibiotic treatment before he can do a root canal and that I should not leave home for the next two weeks, having his cell phone number to call if more pain or other problems. I’m grounded by a dentist!   🙂

I just emailed the hotel-lodge requesting that my reservation be moved up to August or October, two future months without trips planned (and hopefully Coronavirus is settled before then). I should know soon what my options are with the hotel, but I expect no problem getting another reservation. And life moves on!


The lodge gave me 13 months to reschedule and then I went ahead and cancelled my May trip which included a hotel night in San Jose and a long bus trip. So no more trips until July.

Desire increases when fulfillment is postponed.

~Pierre Corneille


¡Pura Vida!

Bird Photos Identified

I didn’t get as many bird photos on this trip, but then it wasn’t the purpose except for two days. Of many bird shots, I have five that are decent and have finally got each bird properly identified. The Volcano Junco is the first posting:

Click Image to Enlarge!
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Hotel Rio Mar
Dominical, Costa Rica

Black-billed Nightingale-thrush at Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Resplendent Quetzal, Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Collared Redstart, Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Volcano Junco
Los Quetzales National Park, Costa Rica

Resplendent Quetzal Day

Resplendent Quetzal Male near Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Collared Redstart, Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

“Buena Vista” in Talamanca Mountains Above the Clouds
with a Tico friend soaking in the beauty.

A great last day and I’m exhausted with two birding hikes and the 90 minute drive back to San Jose. At dinner tonight I started a list of positives and negatives to moving to Costa Rica. I’ll share that later. I have thousands of photos, more great memories of Costa Rica, and a lot of knew knowledge about the country and the people. I have new friends here and from other places including a guy from the Netherlands today. Now I need a few days to let it all soak in and get some rest before I decide.

Mountain Rainforest Today

My 8:00 AM ride was early, not on “Tico Time” – a very pleasant young man named Alejandro for our 90 minute ride into the TalamancaMountains and Trogon Lodge. Upon arrival, the first thing I did was put on long pants and long-sleeve shirt! It is very cool here and they have already lit the gas heater in my rustic cabin. The rain is in the middle of the day here while always in afternoon in valley and coast. But I did get to hike a couple of hours in the rainforest with only a mist. Got only one bird, but several shots of him, I think some kind of thrush; I don’t have my CR Bird Book with me. I also saw several Tropical Kingbirds but couldn’t get a shot. The star of this hike was Catarata Falls on the Sevegre River (photo}. The lodge is right on this mountain river. The staff and food are fabulous! Only 3 guests during the day but 20 young adults from Germany came in this afternoon, so the dining room will be livelier for dinner! And already is in the bar! The only WiFi hot spot is in the bar where I’m posting now before dinner. Every moment of every day is an exciting adventure! I enjoy them all!
At 5:40 AM tomorrow I meet my guide to go find and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal before breakfast. Then I will hike around the cloud forest until Alejandro returns for me at 2:00 PM, my last day in Costa Rica this time. Enjoy my mountain rainforest photos. More will be in my online gallery later.
Catarata Falls on the Sevegre River

Trogon Lodge on Sevegre River in Talamanca Mountins

Black-billed Nightingale-thrush, Trogon Lodge
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

My “Rainforest Selfie” On Best Part of the Trip!

Birding Adventure Scheduled

Resplendent Quetzal by Charlie Doggett
Near Savegre Lodge, Talamanca Mountains, Costa Rica

I was saving all four of my personal days after the tour for business if needed, but realized I could get enough done in two and found a travel agent to set up a birding trip for my last two days. I’ll get private transportation (90 minutes) from San Jose to and from the Talamanca Mountains, Los Quetzales National Park, and Trogon Lodge on September 3 & 4. It comes with a birding guide early before breakfast on the 4th to help find and photograph another Resplendent Quetzal bird (above), the most sought after bird for birders in Central America. The photo here was made on my 2009 birding trip. Hope I get another one as good or better than this! Plus there should be trogons, hummingbirds, and many other cloud forest birds, other animals, waterfalls, and landscapes. A cloud forest is a rainforest in the mountains with mostly different species of flora & fauna than seen in the lowland rainforests.

Well, I’m excited and ready for my flight early tomorrow morning and the beginning of the Live in Costa Rica Tour. I plan to make a post tomorrow night and each night for the two weeks, with a photo of the day each night. Please send a link to this blog to anyone you know who is interested.  This is where I will finalize my decision to move (or not move) to Costa Rica.