This past July we had the pleasure of hosting a group of Biology students who were studying Spanish in Costa Rica. 

Biology and Spanish? Of course! That’s what we do best here at QERC!

This group was from Wheaton College (in Wheaton, Illinois) led by Dr. Rodney Scott and his wife.  This particular group of students was taking courses for the summer at Whitworth University’s Costa Rica campus in Heredia. Dr. Scott and the students decided to get away for a weekend of tranquility and bird watching at QERC, so we were happy to have them.

The group really wanted to spot a Resplendent Quetzal, and they were fortunate because two nests were active during this time of year (the majority of other nests had already fledged by this time). The group decided to use a professional guide from the valley, so they got connected with Marino Chacon and invited me to come along.

Not only did we see a pair of quetzals trading off nest duties, we also spotted a juvenile nearby. We have heard reports from birders and guides that this juvenile was helping to feed the fledgling (unfortunately I didn’t witness this to verify).

What we did see what the spot where these birds have been feeding, evidenced by the many aguacatillo and zapotillo pits found below a protected tree. Young quetzals enjoy a diet of the zapotillo fruit along with aguacatillo fruit, insects, and small lizards delivered by the parents.

Here you can see the difference in size between zapotillo(small) and aguacatillo (large) pits:

Here is a pile of regurgitated pits, evidence of recent feeding activity: