Communities in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica, southeast of the capital San José, take the protection of their most spectacular bird, the Resplendent Quetzal, seriously. To ensure that no one interferes with breeding, all visitors to known nests must be accompanied by a local guide, and each photographer or birder must pay a small fee to the guide and the property owner, to benefit the local economy.
That’s how photographer Juan Carlos Vindas was able to make this extraordinary image. Working inside a blind about 100 feet (30 meters) from a nest last May, he had a front-row seat as a pair of quetzals took turns provisioning their chicks. The birds swapped places every 20 minutes or so, Vindas says, returning with insects, larvae, crushed aguacatillos (a wild avocado plant), or other food items. His photo shows the male.