For a reason, their hue appears fleeting; quetzals are not green at all. It's difficult to believe, but quetzals are brown. Melanin, the same pigment that causes tanning in humans, gives them their color. Quetzal feathers are transparent and dark brown when enlarged. The term "quetzal" comes from the Nahuatl language of Mexico, where it means "plumed serpent".
Their name comes from the Nahuatl language of Mexico, where it means "plumed serpent". However, some people think that the name comes from the Yucatán Peninsula where they used to call them chinchimini because of their color: yellow like gold or silver. Today, these birds are more commonly called quetzals.
They were prized by the ancient Maya for their beautiful plumage and used as ceremonial costumes or decorations. Because of this reason, and since they don't migrate, the species was almost extinct when Spanish colonists arrived in what is now Guatemala. They began to capture quetzals again for money and trade but soon realized how important they were culturally and made sure to protect them from hunters by giving them legal status as royal treasures. Today, there are large populations of quetzals in protected areas across their range.
In fact, they're so rare that if you see one, it's likely that you'll see many others around it.
The resplendent quetzal is an aptly called bird that many believe to be one of the most beautiful in the world. These brightly colored animals reside in Central America's hilly, tropical jungles, where they feed fruit, insects, lizards, and other tiny critters. Although no one knows for sure how these birds reproduce, it's believed that both male and female quetzals can create eggs or chicks, depending on the season. The colorful feathers on a quetzal's body serve as its protection against predators; moreover, their pattern also helps scientists identify species.
Quetzals used to be widespread throughout much of South America but due to deforestation and hunting they are now extinct in most parts of their former range. Only a few colonies of quetzals remain in central Colombia, mainly in the Montezuma National Park and adjacent areas. These colonies are kept alive through tourism spending and management practices designed to protect them. There are also small populations of quetzals in neighboring Panama and Ecuador, but they too are threatened with extinction because of deforestation and poaching.
In 1998 a group of people including ornithologists discovered evidence that suggested that quetzals might be able to fly. This discovery was made when researchers found some dead birds with broken wings inside of hollow trees. They thought maybe these animals had tried to escape danger by flying into the trees but instead landed on thin branches and were unable to get back up into the air.
The dazzling quetzal (/'[email protected]/) is a trogon-like bird. It may be found all the way from Chiapas, Mexico to western Panama (unlike the other quetzals of the genus Pharomachrus, which are found in South America and eastern Panama). It is well-known for its brightly colored plumage. The male quetzal can be identified by its red chest, back, and tail feathers. Its head is green with a yellow bill. The female quetzal is similar to the male but lacks any red color on its body. Instead, it has brownish-gray feathers with a blue sheen.
In order to see a resplendent quetzal in the wild, you will need to go to southern Mexico or western Panama. There are no resplendent quetzals in central Mexico because there aren't any forests there where they could find food.
The main diet of the resplendent quetzal is flower nectar. They will also eat some small fruits, insects, and sometimes small birds. Although the quetzal isn't considered an endangered species, many people think that without protection against hunters its future looks bleak. Climate change may be another threat that could lead to the extinction of this amazing bird. Since their habitat is being destroyed by farmers who open up new land for cattle grazing, there are less and less places for them to live in.
The Quetzal's Habitat Quetzals reside in damp tropical forests or humid woods in Central America's hilly areas. They tend to reside at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 feet (1,200 to 3,000 meters).
The Quetzal's Food Source The Quetzal eats fruit when available and some small animals such as frogs, lizards, and insects. It will also eat vegetables if necessary.
The Quetzal's Life Cycle The Quetzal reaches sexual maturity in its third year. It can live for up to 20 years in the wild.
Quetzals are endangered because there are only about 50,000 left in the world. Most live in Guatemala alone. Illegal hunting for feathers used in traditional clothing has been reported to be causing the population decline.
There are several factors that make the Quetzal unique compared to other birds. First of all, it is the only bird with red feathers. Also, unlike most other birds which have white feathers around their eyes to prevent them from being blinded by sunlight when they fly into it, the Quetzal has black feathers instead. Finally, although its beak looks like it could tear flesh, the Quetzal is actually very toxic and should not be eaten.
All together, these traits make the Quetzal special.
The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and a member of the Trogon family. The Quetzal can only be found in Mexico and Central America, and even then, only in inaccessible areas of upland cloud forest, such as Guatemala's Highlands. Although the population of Quetzals has declined by more than 90 percent due to deforestation, there are still approximately 1,000 individuals living in the wild.
Guatemala's highlands provide an important refuge for this bird. There are two main populations: one on the Mexican border with Belize; the other in the eastern portion of the country with close ties to Venezuela. Both locations are well protected within large national parks. There are also several smaller private reserves that maintain good numbers of quetzals. One such reserve is Los Alerces, which is located about three hours south of Guatemala City.
People have been trading or "plucking" feathers from the Quetzal since its description by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. They used the beautiful plumes in their clothing and artwork. Today, these traded feathers are called "mexican gold".
Quetzals were originally found only in remote parts of the highlands but due to deforestation they are now also found in some cities across Guatemala.