The big draws amongst Nature enthusiasts in Panama is one of the most striking birds in Central America: the quetzal. Once you see its pictures and — most especially — live in its habitat, you can’t help but say that it’s one of the most beautiful birds in the world.
The quetzal is an indeed a bird of paradise. The male quetzal is a sight to behold. Its head is covered with luminous green feathers, its body is covered bright red and then white feathers. It has also two three green tail feathers that can extend to a meter (40 inches), which can grow twice the size of its entire body.
The resplendent quetzal, as it’s usually called, lives from southern Mexico to the highlands of western Panama. It is in Panama where they are much easier to spot and observe. From February to May, they usually nest in Panama to raise their young. This is the perfect time to visit the quetzal sanctuaries to watch these amazing birds roosting.
I recommend that you hire a local birdwatcher/tourist guide. These birds sit in long periods of time very quietly. Most of the time, quetzals can be very difficult to find. These birds usually stay at the edge of the forests and in trees near clearings. Their nests are inside trees. They usually poke deep holes in the trunk where they make room for eggs and the female.
It is sad that the quetzal population is dwindling due to deforestation. Through the years, the birds have also resorted to moving higher up into the mountains, making it harder for ornithologists to study them and for tourists to appreciate them. Hopefully, the country’s aggressive conservation efforts as well as the revenue from ecotourism would help stave off the quetzal’s problems.
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