quetzal or quezal, common name for a magnificent bird of the family Trogonidae (trogon family), found in the rain forests from S Mexico to Costa Rica at altitudes of up to 9,000 ft (2,745 m). It is strikingly beautiful, with a crested head, bronze-green back, and crimson and white underparts. Quetzals nest in holes, and lay from two to four eggs per clutch. The male shares incubation duties with the female. The nesting hole has a single entrance, not two as was once believed. The Aztec and Maya used the 2-ft (61-cm) shimmering green tail plumes of the breeding male ceremonially and worshiped the bird as the god of the air, associating it with the god Quetzalcoatl. The quetzal, Pharomachrus mocino, is the national bird of Guatemala, and a monetary unit of the country is also called a quetzal. Quetzals are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Trogoniformes, family Trogonidae.

Quetzals are strikingly colored birds of the trogon family (Trogonidae) found in tropical regions of the Americas.

The word "quetzal" was originally used for just the Resplendent Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, the famous long-tailed quetzal of Central America, which is the national bird of Guatemala. It still often refers to that bird specifically but now also names all the species of the genera Pharomachrus and Euptilotis. The six quetzal species and their English common names are:

Euptilotis neoxenus is related to Pharomachrus and is called the Eared Quetzal by some authorities, such as the American Ornithologists' Union, but the Eared Trogon by others.


The name "quetzal" is from Nahuatl quetzalli, "large brilliant tail feather" (American Heritage Dictionary) or "tail coverts of the quetzal" (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary), from the Nahuatl root quetz = "stand up" used to refer to an upstanding plume of feathers.

Pharomachrus is from ancient Greek pharos, "mantle", and makros, "long", referring to the wing and tail coverts of the Resplendent Quetzal. (The second h is unexplained.)

See also

External links

  • For images of four quetzal species, select "Trogons".
  • Trogon videos, including quetzals, on the Internet Bird Collection

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