kids encyclopedia robot

Quetzal facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Golden-headed Quetzal.jpg
Golden-headed quetzal
Scientific classification
de la Llave. 1832
Gould, 1858

Quetzals are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family. They are found in forests, especially in humid highlands.

These birds live in the Americas. The word "quetzal" was first used for the resplendent quetzal, a famous long-tailed quetzal that lives in Central America. The resplendent quetzal is the national symbol of Guatemala.

Quetzals have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, with a red belly. Their

They are strongly sexually dimorphic, as usual with the males being brighter. Parts of the female plumageis brown or grey. These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (such as frogs). Even with their famous bright plumage, they can be hard to see in their natural wooded habitats.

In Aztec times, the quetzal was worshiped as the god of the air. Its long tail feathers, which can grow up to 2 ft (60 cm) long, were highly prized for making into costume and head-dresses.


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

The quetzal is also known in Spanish as the pilco.

Conservation status

None of the many quetzal species are under immediate threat in the wild, although the eared and resplendent quetzal are at the Near Threatened status. Pharomachrus mocinno is dependent on standing dead and mature trees for breeding holes, which are only formed in primary cloud forest; the species' breeding behavior is linked to the long term existence of these forests such as the few remaining in highland Guatemala. The remaining are not considered threatened by the IUCN and all are locally common. Among the most concentrated populations are the Baja Verapaz part of the Sierra de las Minas and the Chicabnab Reserve of Alta Verapaz. However, it should be kept in mind while despite the fact that quetzals typically inhabit cloud forests, the fact that they are being divided into much smaller patches is what is known as a principal threat to their survival. Resplendent Quetzals are known to relocate in lower elevated areas during the summertime when precipitation is known to increase, their patterns in movement are most likely correlated to an surplus of ripe Lauraceae fruits.


Genus Pharomachrus:

Genus Euptilotis:

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.

See also

Images for kids

kids search engine
Quetzal Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.