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Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno

  • Order: Trogoniformes
  • Family: Trogonidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Ashley A. Dayer

Thumbnail image, above left: San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica, 6 June 2005, © Wes Hanson

Across time and cultures, the Resplendent Quetzal has been heralded for its great beauty. With an iridescent green sheen and uppertail covert feathers longer than its entire body, the bird has attracted much attention from pre-Columbian peoples, ornithologists, collectors, market hunters, and birders. Skutch (1944) described the male Resplendent Quetzal as "a supremely lovely bird; the most beautiful, all things considered, that I have ever seen. He owes his beauty to the intensity and arresting contrast of his coloration, the resplendent sheen and glitter of his plumage, the elegance of his ornamentation, the symmetry of his form, and the noble dignity of his carriage."

While we know a great deal about the birds' appearance, diet, behavior, nesting habits, and food provisioning to young, population estimates are out of date and we lack population trend data, which hampers a thorough understanding of the conservation needs of the species. Yet, this quetzal may be the most threatened of all trogonids and the tropical cloud forest that the bird depends on continues to decline, further threatening it. Conservation of this altitudinal migrants' high and low elevation habitats, as well as connecting corridors, are called for.

Song (Guatemalan)

© Charles Duncan

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Dayer, A. A. (2010). Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.