Chestnut-mandibled Toucan in full display
near Puerto Viejo 19 Dec 2007
MONTANE CLOUD FOREST Savegre and Cerro de la Muerte
We spent two full days and two part-days between 21-24 December in the montane cloud forests around the very comfortable Savegre Mountain Lodge (right), located at 2200m (7200') elevation in the San Gerardo Valley, which stretches down the Pacific slope of the Talamanca Range from the misty stunted forests on Cerro de la Muerte (3491m = 11,453'). We had arranged with Alex Martinez to drive us there after the Atlantic lowlands, and had arranged a taxi to take us to the Osa Peninsula when we left, but we didn't have transportation while at Savegre. The hotel, though, arranged one ride and two other guests, Jack & Debbie Heald from Atlanta, graciously gave us a lift at other times.

The foremost target at Savegre for us was Resplendent Quetzal. Initially we were told they were 3 km up the road, and we hiked up that way but saw none. We learned that night that one needed directions to a specific fruiting tree, located on private land where everyone pays $1, and that information was critical. The next morning the lodge drove us to the spot and we saw 3 males and 2 females (one shown, right), and watched a male engage in an impressive display flight out over the valley (above). The next morning we went back with the Healds much earlier, set up for photography, and got much better photos (see our opening page). It was a great experience to be sitting quietly right next to the magnificent birds. Where the quetzals are changes from week to week. Sometimes they are right at Savegre Lodge; indeed, I saw a male fly over the lodge on our final morning.

One benefit of getting to the fruiting tree very early on the second day was that a Black Guan (below) was also feeding there. This can be a very elusive species in the cloud forest.

There are a series of trails through the cloud forest above Savegre, and one afternoon I spent most of it on the Quebrada Trail which parallels a rushing montane stream for some distance (above). This is a primary locale for Wrenthrush, which I saw along the edge of the creek after sufficient effort (although tapes seemed to have no effect). I also worked through the foraging flocks, some of which included Collared Redstart (above & right). One canopy flock had Black-cheeked Warbler, Ruddy Treerunner, and, most unexpectedly, three young or female Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatchers. These flycatched out from canopy branches for awhile, and then lingered over some berries as the flock left them far behind.

Hummingbirds were great at Savegre, and a selection of them appears on another page. The gallery below shows other montane species around Savegre Lodge.


Yellow-thighed Finch (above)
Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher (below)

male Slaty Flowerpiercer (above)
Rufous-collared Sparrow (below)

Mountain Robin (above)
male Flame-colored Tanager (just below)
Sooty Robin (above)
Large-footed Finch (second below)

We traversed the PanAmerican Highway that crosses the Cerro de la Muerte three times, two of them in thick wet fog, and the other just before a rainstorm. This limited our attempts to locate the very high elevation species, but we did find Flame-throated Hummingbird (shown on the hummingbird page) and Volcano Junco (left). The latter was at the very top, near the radio antennas, in mist and rain.

One other surprise at Savegre was the discovery that the Quetzal Educational Research Center, a field center of Southern Nazarene University, is adjacent to the Lodge. We had a nice discussion with David Hille, the resident manager, and was surprised to meet Santa Cruz birder Matthew Strusis-Timmer visiting there as well.

We can gladly recommend Savegre Mountain Lodge to anyone, and we thank Tim Manolis for telling us about this spot in the first place. They raise trout in pens next to the river below the lodge, and the trout dinners were superb!

Atlantic Lowlands
Montane Cloud Forest
Reptiles & Amphibians
Pacific Lowlands
Dragonflies & Damselflies
Complete TRIP LIST
with birds, mammals & herps
page created 23-25 Jan 2008
© Don Roberson 2007