Animals / Types of Birds / The Resplendent Quetzal - Iconic Bird of The Americas

The Resplendent Quetzal - Iconic Bird of The Americas

male female diagram


Possibly the most iconic and striking bird in the Americas, the quetzal has a green sheen over most of its body. The males have bright red chests and measure 12-16 inches or 30-40 cm. The females have an ash-gray chest and have black and white stripes on the underside of the tails. The female lacks the famous long tail feathers of the male whose tail plumes can reach a meter in length. A bristling crest crowns the head of the male and his bill shows a bright yellow. The most common of the various calls the quetzals make are a soft crying “k’yoiw-k’yow, k’yoiw-k’yow” or a sharper call sounding like “whee’o-whee’u, whee’o-whee’u”.





The resplendent quetzal lives in the upper canopy of the undisturbed cloud forest, at higher elevations from 4,600 to 9,500 ft or 1400 to 3000 m, from southern Mexico to western Panama. This habitat is being slowly destroyed and therefore the species has lost considerable numbers and is considered at risk. Up in the cloud forest, they eat fruit, avocados, insects, frogs and insects.


iconic american bird


The majestic bird and it's feathers have played a role in the religion of the indigenous peoples of the area. The Nahuatl (the central Mexican tribes' base language) word for their all important god Quetzalcoatl means “feathered serpent god” or else “quetzal serpent”. To the Maya this was also one of the most important gods - Kulkulcan - and its feathers they imagined as undulating serpents. The kings and other elite used these feathers in their headdresses. Today quetzal is the name of Guatemala’s currency and it’s also their national bird.




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