From hiking in the beautiful rainforests to swimming in huge waterfalls, there were so many great moments on my trip to Costa Rica with Avian Biology. However, there are two moments that stick out to me the most.

The first moment was in a cloud forest in a place called Monteverde which means green mountain. This place was so beautiful and so full of diverse life within the ecosystem. This location was early on our trip so I still didn’t know what to expect. Our group had split up into two groups to go hiking to look for birds. I was in the group with Patron, our bus driver and bird enthusiast, and Hugo, our tour guide. We started hiking on the trail looking for several birds including the resplendent quetzal. At the time, I did not know what this bird looked like. Patron was leading us pointing out birds and helping us learn how to identify them. Suddenly, Patron told us to be quiet and he pointed toward a tree not far from the trail. On a branch, there was a bird that had a green head, a gray belly, and a red vent. Patron told us it was a female resplendent quetzal. He then pointed out a small cavity in a dead tree which was near to the female. He told us that if we were quiet and patient that we may have the opportunity to see the male. We stayed quiet and watched the female for about 10 minutes. Our patience paid off as a bird with a green fuzzy head, red belly and 4 extended green tail feathers flew up near the female. This was the male resplendent quetzal. He was absolutely stunning! We watched him as he then flew to the small cavity in the dead tree to feed the hungry baby quetzal. The pair of quetzals were there for a little longer before flying off presumably to find more food for their offspring. This experience, as well as the rest of the hike, opened my eyes to the beauty and peace of birding. I will never forget this moment. The resplendent quetzal is my favorite bird that I saw on the entire trip. I was even lucky enough to get a glimpse of this bird one more time during my trip.

My second favorite moment was a moment of friendship. Our group was making an overnight hike to a biological station in the middle of the jungle called San Gerardo. We packed everything we needed in our book bags and hiked down the mountain to the station in the morning. As soon as we got there we had some free time before lunch so all of us went to the rooms to set our stuff down. On the balcony, there were hammocks and chairs that were faced toward a view that had the volcano Arenal in the distance. This time was special as we were all together talking, sharing stories and becoming closer as a group. Leah, one of my classmates, and I had become pretty close in the days before so we shared a hammock looking off to Arenal sharing jokes and stories, relaxing before our next hike. Friendships kept growing stronger as we had to endure the hike out of San Gerardo together as well as the heat and humidity of the later locations.