Dr Duncan James > Nature Travel Guide > Planet Earth > the Americas > Costa Rica > Gerardo

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Nature Travel Guide

Location 13: Gerardo (Costa Rica)

Most information in the images is repeated in the text, except some features of the maps.

Cloud forest with Resplendent Quetzal and other high-elevation birds.

Enjoy Cloud Forest Birdwatching in Costa Rica.

Either exploring Parque Nacional Quetzales or the San Gerardo Road is an excellent way to enjoy the cloud forest and other habitats.

San Gerardo de Dota is famous for the Resplendent Quetzal (a type of bird that famously feeds on avocados) which is found here relatively easily. This is a high-elevation location which also includes middle-elevation bird species. Due to the height it can be cold and other wildlife such as insects and mammals are less common.

I typically see Variegated Squirrels 2 or 3 times a day cheekily running around. I have seen monkey tracks but not the monkeys themselves which is not surprising as the population density will be lower in the mountains. Tapir have a strong population in the forests of Gerardo but, as they are mainly nocturnal and fairly secretive, most visitors do not see them.

Most information in the images is repeated in the text, except some features of the maps.
Sulphur-winged Parakeet are a specialist species of parakeet that is only found in the mountains. I have often seen or heard them flying overhead but rarely seen them feeding like this in the trees.

A number of long-distance footpaths in theory exist in this area:

Apart from the paths starting at Savegre and Quetzal Valley Cabins, I found it difficult to find out about the other paths. I do know that the national park has been discouraging use of many of these trails which may explain why they are less-known and less-used now

Most information in the images is repeated in the text, except some features of the maps.
I saw this male Magnificent Hummingbird during a rainstorm on the San Gerardo Road. We were both sheltering from the rain under the same tree.

Birdwatching at San Gerardo

The Grey-breasted Wood-Wren was the only wren I saw. On both occasions the underside looked very dark and not grey. I have observed this at other places as well and it seems to be due to mainly seeing this species in the dark understory of the forest. The female Purple-throated Mountain-Gem and White-throated Mountain-Gem are fairly common and although I often got good views I rarely got a saw the tail clearly enough to be sure which species I was seeing. The Common Bush-Tanager has a very variable white spot behind the eye. The Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager and the Black-cheeked Warbler are very similar and I mainly relied on either seeing the green back of the tanager or the red on the head of the warbler to be sure which I was seeing.

The further south you go travel away from the main road, the lower the elevation. So, for high-elevation species either stay at the end nearer the highway or once you reach Savegre head up their long trail to regain height. I saw this elevation change along the road most clearly with Black-billed Nightingale-Thrushes being more common near the interstate highway and Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrushes being more common at the waterfall/Savegre end of San Gerardo. My personal experience is always that the official elevations a bird is supposed to be found at are just guidelines. At San Gerardo I found all the species of birds to be all the way along the road; simply the high-elevation specialists were more common nearest the highway (or up the slopes above the valley).

Most information in the images is repeated in the text, except some features of the maps.
I regularly saw Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher in the trees when I visited the San Gerardo valley.

This article is part of the Nature Travel Guide and was published on June 2017.

Larger-scale information relating this page include the Planet Earth, the Americas and Costa Rica articles.

Even more articles including detailed site descriptions, illustrated wildlife-watching activities, self-guided walks, itinerary recommendations, birdwatching overviews and mammal-watching overviews are available in the premium eBooks.

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