A Quest for Resplendent, Scintillant, Magnificent Perches 17 July 2013
Resplendant Quetzal, male, near the nest tree
Resplendant - very impressive in richness of color and ornament; stunning, attractive -- as in Resplendant Quetzal.
Scintillant - Of sparks, brilliant or tiny flashes; sparkling -- as in Scintillant Hummingbird.
Magnificent - Striking, complexly beautiful, awesome and breathtaking, extravagant, striking -- as in Magnificent Hummingbird.
All of these species have been aptly named. The sparkling iridescence and endless depth of color, the deep and mysterious habitat realms of the cloud forest, make these birds biological treasures. These birds convey the essence of deep fog, lush green foliage, and crystal clear, clean, cold cascades fed by mountain springs and reliable rains. These birds give a true sense of place.
Some places on Earth are richer than others in biological diversity. In this place, the wealth of diversity is astounding, mind-blowing, riveting. To see such diversity amid this beauty of landscape is to feel small, grateful, humble, and wonderfully alive.
Every day brings some rain in the cloud forest. It is an ecosystem rich in epiphytes, diverse communities of mosses, and lianas. The rain brings abundance, and life seems to network through all kinds of structural levels. No longer can we apply the simplicity of thought in ground layer, shrub layer, subcanopy and canopy. There are vastly more structural levels to the forest, with layers moving in all directions, dense vegetative volume creating opportunities for insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, fungi, and flowering plants from the ground to the supercanopy trees.
Birds occupy a baffling number of niches, and examples of competition, co-evolution, and adaptive rule-bending can be seen running along nearly vertical trunks, rippng open the nectar tubes of flowers, and fluttering out into the misty, open spaces. A moment through the lens, I find myself focused on a single, small bird. A tiny mite crawls out onto the bill of the Scintillant Hummingbird, Costa Rica's smallest hummingbird. The tiny arthropod reaches the end of the beak, turns around, and crawls all the way back to the warmth and security of feathered skin. The bird rouses, flies off for a second, and returns to the same perch. I recompose and make an image...
To visit an eco-lodge in Costa Rica is to support habitat protection and wildlife conservation. It is the best use of travel money, immersing yourself in the life-changing beauty of a new place while enjoying the double duty of the dollars as they directly support land trust and positive reward for preservation. In short, the money is well spent as it empowers the people who care most about keeping Costa Rica's wild places and spaces intact and often vastly wild!