Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)

on 28th March 2014

KC Tsang was in Costa Rica in February 2014 where he visited the Valley of San Gerardo de Dota and trekked up the mountain to the cloud forest at an altitude of 2,200-3,025 metres. There he managed to photograph the near-threatened and uncommon Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno). It was a reward worthy of traveling halfway round the world lugging his camera (Nikon 1 V2, ft1, TC2, 300mm f/2.8) and tripod with him.

The Resplendent Quetzal, in its green-blue-red-white-grey-black plumage is one of the most beautiful bird species in the world. In addition, the green feathers exhibit iridescence, turning green-gold to blue-violet, depending on the angle of view as well as the angle of illumination. The above image shows the female in all her glory.

The male is much more spectacular, especially during the breeding season when he grows an extra twin tail feathers that may be a metre long (above, below). So delicate are these feathers that the bird falls backwards in order to fly off his perch so as not to damage them.

When doing incubation and brooding duties during the daylight hours, the male sits in its nesting cavity in a rotting tree hole facing outwards. His long tail feathers curl round his body and over his head, sometimes exiting the nesting hole, giving the illusion of a bunch of fern growing out of the cavity.

The video above is by Lbon who recorded it at Mount Tetumas Cloud Forest in Panama on 23rd May 2011.

KC Tsang
March 2014

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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