Crested Quetzal (Pharomachrus antisianus)

Crested Quetzal

[order] TROGONIFORMES | [family] Trogonidae | [latin] Pharomachrus antisianus | [authority] dOrbigny, 1837 | [UK] Crested Quetzal | [FR] Quetzal antisien | [DE] Kammtrogon | [ES] Quetzal Crestado | [NL] Kuifquetzal


Monotypic species


Quetzals are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family (Trogonidae). They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico (marginally also in adjacent U.S. states). A striking aspect of this genus is their iridescent coloration. In the genus Pharomachrus the melanin is organized in platelets, while in Apaloderma, Galbula, Harpactes, and Trogon the granules are round and hollow. The granules are of a different pattern which constitutes the Quetzal’s beautiful colors.

Physical charateristics

Characteristic of crested quetzals is their iridescent green plumage that extends from the head across the back. Females have slightly less vivid plumage than do males. The breast plumage is vivid crimson and the wings are deep violet. The beak is finely serrated, permitting a tight grip on food items. The plumage under the beak is a dull turquoise color in comparison to the brilliant colors of the body. A tuft of emerald green and turquoise feathers grows from the head, distinguishing crested quetzals from the other species of trogons. Adults grow to about 35.5 cm in length. Males can develop an emerald green, violet, and blue tail that can exceed 76 cm in length. The undersides of the tail feathers are white, which is also a diagnostic characteristic of this species (ADW)

Listen to the sound of Crested Quetzal

[audio: Quetzal.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 33 cm size max.: 34 cm
incubation min.: 18 days incubation max.: 19 days
fledging min.: 23 days fledging max.: 28 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


South America : Venezuela to North Bolivia


Crested quetzals are found in the forest canopy of second growth or mature, moist forests, including cloud forests. They are found at elevations from 1000 to 3000 meters. They are most commonly observed perching quietly in dense foliage in fruiting trees


Crested quetzals form monogamous mating pairs, in which both parents care for their young. There is little available information on courtship rituals. More is known about its their close relatives, resplendent quetzals. During the mating season, male resplendent quetzals perform a spiral ?sky dance? in order to attract a female mate. It is thought that the long, colorful tail of crested quetzal males is important in in female choice of a mate, but this has not been studied. The breeding season is February through June. Crested quetzals excavate a hole in a decaying tree to create a nest. The excavation is thought to play a vital role in reproduction by stimulating ovulation. Female crested quetzals lay 1 to 2 eggs that are light blue in color. The incubation period is 18 days. Young hatch with their eyes closed, and they remain closed for the first week of life. Parents bring fruits, insects, and small amphibians to feed the hatchlings. During the 3rd week the largest and strongest hatchling will begin to learn to fly. As soon as the fledgling is confident in flight, at about 3 to 4 weeks, it will begin to search for its own territory. Fledglings often remain close to the male parent for the first few years of life. (ADW)

Feeding habits

Crested quetzals are specialized omnivores that prefer fruits of trees in the family Lauraceae. These birds eat 41 species of fruits in the family Lauraceae. Crested quetzals also eat small amphibians, reptiles, and insects.

Video Crested Quetzal


copyright: Martin Kennewell


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Crested Quetzal status Least Concern


Sedentary but some seasonal movements known

Distribution map

Crested Quetzal distribution range map

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