We’ve been very lucky to see an amazing variety of animals in the wild so far on our Journey. High on our wish list was seeing a resplendent quetzal. As the name indicates this is one of the most spectacular birds in the world. The quetzal’s tail feathers (which only the males grow) were worn in the headresses of the Mayan and Aztec Kings. The quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and is featured on all of the country’s paper money which happens to be called (you guessed it) the quetzal. Sadly, this bird lives only in the ever-diminishing cloud forests of Central America and is no longer readily sighted as their habitat dwindles–not to mention pressure from hunters who seek the valuable feathers.
The other day we stayed at the Chelemhá Cloud Forest Lodge. Way up in the mountains of the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala, the lodge is in the privately-run Chelemhá Cloud Forest Reserve where the quetzals still have a (tiny) happy home. We headed out on an early morning hike and after a two hour climb we were shown a hole in a dead tree stump that was home to a nesting pair of quetzals. After just a few minutes this gorgeous male popped out of the hole and alighted on a nearby branch where he graciously posed for us.
Without further ado, the truly resplendent quetzal…