QuetzalThis entry is about the bird called Quetzal. For the Guatemalan currency, see Quetzal (currency).
Ref: ITIS 553589
Although "quetzal" is used to name the all the species of the genus Pharomachrus, the word alone is often used to name one particular species, the Resplendent Quetzal (P. mocinno mocinno). There is also a subspecies, the Costa Rican Resplendent Quetzal, P. mocinno costaricensis.
Other quetzals include:
- Crested Quetzal (P. antisianus)
- Golden-headed Quetzal (P. auriceps)
- White-tipped Quetzal (P. fulgidus)
- Pavonine Quetzal (P. pavoninus)
They have a mixed diet, consuming, for example, insects, fruit and frogs. the habitat is mountain forests. The quetzals lay two eggs in a tree hole nest.
The Resplendent Quetzal is an endangered species.
The bird plays a prominent role in the region's Pre-Columbian mythology and in modern legend. Ancient Mesoamerican kings and high priests wore headdresses of quetzal feathers. In several Mesoamerican languages, the term for quetzal can also mean precious or sacred.
See also QuetzalcoŠtl.
The Resplendent Quetzal has never been successfully bred or been held for any long time in captivity, and indeed is noted for usually dying soon after if captured or caged. For this reason it is considered a symbol of liberty.
An image of a Quetzal is on the flag and national seal of Guatemala.
One Guatemalan legend claims that the quetzal used to sing beautifully before the Spanish conquest, but has been silent ever since--but will sing once again when the land is truly free.