What Are Some Facts About the Quetzal Bird?


Quick Answer

The resplendent quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, is a Central American species that can be found in the canopies of moist, cool rainforests ranging from southern Mexico to Panama. It prefers high-altitude habitats, such as cloud forests and montane forests. It features brilliant, metallic green plumage on its head, back and wings and a vibrant red breast. Males tend to be more brightly colored than females.

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Full Answer

The adult quetzal is about 14 inches long from its head to the base of its tail, which can reach up to 3 feet in length on male birds of breeding age. The mating season lasts from March to June, during which the male bird uses loud songs and courtship displays to attract a female. When a pair is established, the birds use their small but powerful beaks to hollow out a nest in a decaying tree or stump. The quetzal mates inside this nest and the female lays her eggs, usually a clutch of two, on the bare floor of the hollow.

The eggs hatch after the parents share incubation duties for 17 to 18 days. The chicks are bare and blind for the first week, but soon become covered in soft, light-colored feathers. The parents also share feeding duties, bringing the chicks insects at first, and then adding larger invertebrates to the diet as they grow. The juvenile birds leave the nest at about three weeks of age, but continue to socialize with their parents for some time. The adult quetzal favors a diet of fruits and berries but is a talented hunter and consumes small lizards, insects and frogs when fruit is scarce.

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