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Resplendent Quetzal » Facts, Eating and Reproductive Habits

The Quetzal is one of the rarest and most beautiful birds in the world, in fact its name comes from Quetzalli, a term from the Nahuatl language, which means “beautiful” or “gorgeous”.

ts scientific name is Pharomachrus Mocinno and it is also known as “Mesoamerican Quetzal” and “Central American Quetzal”.

In Guatemala it is a very important symbol, to the point that it is its national bird, its official currency bears its name and appears on its flag and coat of arms.

What makes the Quetzal one of the most special rare animals in the world? Find out below.

Special characteristics of the Quetzal

At first glance, the main characteristic of this bird is its jade green colour, combined with the intense crimson of its breast.

In addition, its tail has white feathers that contrast with two other long iridescent green feathers, which reach 60 centimeters in length.

Although females do not have such a striking color or long feathers as males, they do have other colors such as gray and brown, which make them look truly impressive.

The beaks of the males are yellow and the females are completely black.

They can reach a height of approximately 40.5 centimeters (not counting their tail) and a weight usually of 225 grams.

This rare bird emits a soft and melodious call, somewhat similar to the moans of a small dog.

The length of its life in the wild has not been determined precisely, but in captivity it can live up to 20 years if given the necessary care.

The Quetzal is a very quiet bird that likes solitude, but it is also very territorial.

In addition, it tends to stay hidden so it is very difficult to come across one. Although the chances increase if you visit the Central American jungles between the months of March and June.

Where can we find the Quetzal?

This rare bird lives in tropical forests, humid climates, meadows, densely vegetated hills and cloud forests, at an altitude of between 1,200 and 3,000 meters above sea level.

It lives in many places in Central America. In the South of Mexico, in some regions of Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

What does the Quetzal eat?

Although it was believed that the Quetzal was a purely frugivorous bird, the truth is that it has been discovered to be omnivorous, so it is capable of eating both fruit and meat.

However, its favorite food is aguacatillos, but it also eats blackberry, myrtle, capulin, canelillo, carcillo and berries.

As for meat, its prey includes lizards, larvae, frogs, ants and wasps.

When it feeds on fruits, it usually makes them visible, pulling them out with its beak and returning to its resting place where it swallows it whole and after twenty or thirty minutes regurgitates the seed, thus contributing to the reforestation of the territory.

It is important to know, that its tail sometimes makes it less agile to get food. When the bird rushes to get some fruit, especially the blackberry, the two long feathers of its tail can become entangled in the thorny branches, even losing them. Eventually, though, they grow back.

Reproduction of the Quetzal

Although the Quetzal is a very solitary bird, it makes an exception in the breeding season from March to June.

This rare animal is monogamous, that is, it only has one partner throughout its life and although they separate after mating, when the season returns they are again in the same nest.

The male usually sings and dances in the air to court and impress the female.

Similarly, the feathers on its tail grow during this time, making it more attractive to get a mate.

If the female accepts the courtship, they both build a nest at a height of between 3 and 20 meters, drilling a hole in an old rotten trunk.

Usually, the female lays 1 to 4 eggs, but only 25% of them survive, the rest are victims of predators.

Once born, the chicks are cared for and protected by their parents until they become independent and feed themselves.

Quetzal predators

When the quetzals are unhatched eggs or when they are still very small, they are usually victims of several predators among these squirrels, weasels, jar beaks gargantiblancos, pepes and tairas.

But it is not only other animal species that pose a threat to the rare Quetzal, but humans as well.

On the one hand, this bird is hunted for its impressive beauty, for its colorful feathers that serve as adornments and even for making clothing and accessories.

Without leaving aside the deforestation that little by little destroys its habitat. Nevertheless, it is good to know that in the countries where the Quetzal lives, they have been legally protected and special zones have been created to keep it alive and safe.