The people of Central America can be rightly proud of their Resplendent Quetzal.
When shortened to just quetzal (pronounced: KETS' al), he still has the ability to impress.
Together the male and female Resplendent Quetzals are elegantly feathered in shades of blues, green, red, yellow and white.
The male sports a long tail-like feather, which isn't an actual tail feather, rather just a look-alike one. His tail is white on the underside and is largely hidden.
The female is similar in shape and size, but lacks the helmet-like head feathers and the red breast of the male.
This pair was building a home in what may have been a woodpecker hole in the past, but it wasn't quite roomy enough for them, so they were remodeling.
Diving head first into the hole, with only his long tail dangling outside, the male excavates wood chips mouthful by mouthful.
The female was just watching for now, but she too took a turn at enlarging the hole.
You could call the mountain highlands where the Resplendent Quetzals lives remote, but it is easily accessible by car or truck.
Tourists make the trip often and there are businesses and shops throughout the small Talamanca Mountain village of San Gerardo de Dota.
A specie's chances of survival is mainly dependent on the survival of its habitat. To that extent, Costa Rica has a good record of maintaining its bird populations by maintaining the habitats of lush rainforests, deserts, sandy beaches and cloud forests.
The small West Virginia-sized country of Costa Rica has more bird species than all of North America...more than 830 species.
It was confusing to me why the female quetzal suddenly started to make a hole on the opposite side of their nest tree.
Could this be a backdoor?
The male quetzal watched in amazement as she hammered her stout bill into the old dead tree. For all her work she was making little progress while exerting much effort.
If her mate could look confused, he looked confused to me. Starting this new hole when there was a perfectly good hole on the other side of the tree seemed odd.
He didn't help her. He just watched.
It didn't take long before she abandoned that project and the work continued on the first hole. Whatever the outcome of the nest building project, the Resplendent Quetzals will be raising their family living in a beautiful place...on a mountain side...in a forest...in Costa Rica.
Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
Credit: The Birds of Costa Rica, Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean