In Search of Costa Rica’s Elusive Quetzal July 12, 2009Posted by ecointeractive in Conservation, Wildlife.
Tags: Arenal, Bird Watching, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Family Vacation, Eco Travel, Family Vacation, Kid Travel, naturalist, Rainforest, Travel, Vacation, Wildlife
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The quetzal may be small and pigeon like but it makes up for its stature with audacious plumage: vivid, shimmering green comes alive in the abundant sunlight of Central America flashing emerald to gold back to spectacular green.
While everyone spoke of its beauty, the bird was so elusive that early European naturalists believed the quetzal was just a myth of the Central American natives. Which makes sense since early Mayans and Aztecs worshiped a god called Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, and depicted him with a headdress of quetzal feathers. In fact, the bird’s name is derived from quetzalli, an Aztec word meaning “precious” or “beautiful.”
One English naturalist, Osbert Salvin, wrote he was “determined, rain or no rain, to be off to the mountain forests in search of quetzals,to see and shoot which has been a daydream for me ever since I set foot in Central America.” Salvin, the first European ever to record an observation of the bird, noted it was “unequaled for splendour among the birds of the New World,” then he promptly shot it. During the next few decades, thousands of quetzal plumes crossed the Atlantic to adorn fashionable hats of the elite in Paris, Amsterdam, and London.
The Mayans considered killing the bird to be a capital crime, but they too revered its feathers. They were worth more than gold in the Mayan society. Guatemalans were so taken by the bird they named their currency after it. The bird also graces the national shield, flag, postage stamps, along with their money.
Although the Costa Ricans don’t worship the bird with quite as much fervor, the bird is more easily seen in Costa Rica. Especially during breeding season (March-June) when the narcissistic males show off their beautiful tail plumes and scarlet red breast in spiraling skyward flights and dizzing dives causing their tail feathers to ripple behind in part of the courtship ritual. If you can’t make it out for their mating season, try to time your visit during the bird’s meticulous feeding hours, which you can almost set your watch by. They eat insects, small frogs, lizards, and the fruit of the broad-leafed aguacatillo.
From Ask About Honeymoons
Costa Rica’s Hanging Bridges of Arenal Volcano January 26, 2009Posted by ecointeractive in Activities, Eco Travel.
Tags: A Costa Rica Family Vacation, Arenal, Bird Watching, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Eco Tours, Costa Rica Family Vacation, eco, eco tour, Eco Travel, Fortuna, Hanging Bridges, rain forest, Rainforest, Rainforest hike, Travel, Vacation, Wildlife
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The Arenal Hanging Bridges are one the most beautiful environmentally-friendly projects in Costa Rica. Located in front of the Arenal Volcano and within the corridor followed by migratory birds between North and South America, the project’s trails and bridges bring you close to the birds, flowers, and lush vegetation of the primary rainforest. With safe and easy access, the trails allow you to walk right into a beautiful forest. The imposing hanging bridges overlook a dense canopy with volcano views looming in the background.
Breakfast with Toucans at Costa Rica’s Peace Lodge March 15, 2008Posted by ecointeractive in Eco Travel, Wildlife.
Tags: bird, Bird Watching, Butterfly, cloud forest, Conservation, Costa Rica, Costa Rica Family Vacation, Eco Travel, Family Vacation, frog, hummingbird, hummingbirds, La Silva, Peace Lodge, rain forest, Rainforest, spider monkey, Toucan, viper, Waterfall Garden, Wildlife
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I’ve only ever seen a toucan on a box of Froot Loops. But the bird in front of me isn’t impressed when I present him with his cartoon cousin, pilfered from the breakfast buffet that morning. He knocks the cereal packet over with his giant yellow beak and squawks abusively. Tomorrow I’ll bring papaya instead.
Check out this video by Patrick McDonald
See Toucans, Poison Dart Frogs, a Viper and Spider Monkeys in Costa Rica
Walk in the Jungle Costa Rica La Selva
by Patrick McDonald
Costa Rica’s Exotic Hummingbirds March 4, 2008Posted by ecointeractive in Wildlife.
Tags: avian, bird, Bird Watching, Conservation, Costa Rica, eco, Family, hummingbird, kid, La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, tour, Tourism, Travel, Vacation, Wildlife
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Of all the exotically named bird species in Costa Rica, the hummingbirds beat all contenders. Their names are poetry: the green-crowned brilliant, purple-throated mountaingem, Buffon’s plummeteer, and the bold and strikingly beautiful fiery-throated hummingbird. There are more than 300 species of New World hummingbirds constituting the family Trochilidae (Costa Rica has 51), and all are stunningly pretty. The fiery-throated hummingbird, for example, is a glossy green, shimmering iridescent at close range, with dark blue tail, violet-blue chest, glittering coppery orange throat, and a brilliant blue crown set off by velvety black on the sides and back of the head. Some males take their exotic plumage one step further and are bedecked with long streamer tails and iridescent moustaches, beards, and visors.
These tiny high-speed machines are named because of the hum made by the beat of their wings. At up to 100 beats per second, the hummingbirds’ wings move so rapidly that the naked eye cannot detect them. They are often seen hovering at flowers, from which they extract nectar and often insects with their long, hollow, and extensile tongues forked at the tip. Alone among birds, they can generate power on both the forward and backward wing strokes, a distinction that allows them to even fly backwards!
Understandably, the energy required to function at such an intense pitch is prodigious. The hummingbird has the highest metabolic rate per unit of body weight in the avian world (its pulse rate can exceed 1,200 beats a minute) and requires proportionately large amounts of food. One biologist discovered that the white-eared hummingbird consumes up to 850% of its own weight in food and water each day. At night, they go into “hibernation,” lowering their body temperatures and metabolism to conserve energy.
Typically loners, hummingbirds bond with the opposite sex only for the few seconds it takes to mate. Many, such as the fiery-throated hummingbird, are fiercely territorial. With luck you might witness a spectacular aerial battle between males defending their territories. In breeding season, the males “possess” territories rich in flowers attractive to females: the latter gains an ample food source in exchange for offering the male sole paternity rights. Nests are often no larger than a thimble, loosely woven with cobwebs and flecks of bark and lined with silky plant down. Inside, the female will lay two eggs no larger than coffee beans.
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