Eared Quetzal (Euptilotis neoxenus)

Eared Quetzal

[order] TROGONIFORMES | [family] Trogonidae | [latin] Euptilotis neoxenus | [authority] Gould, 1838 | [UK] Eared Quetzal | [FR] Trogon oreillard | [DE] Haarbuschel-Trogon | [ES] Trogon Orejon | [NL] Geoorde Trogon


Monotypic species


Quetzals differ from typical New World trogons in having iridescent wing coverts, less extensive fusion between the two forward-facing toes of their heterodactyl foot, broad tails with distinctly convex (rather than straight or concave) sides, and eggs with pale blue shells. They also average larger in body size than typical trogons, and the eggs and young develop more slowly. The Eared Quetzal is a seemingly primitive form, lacking the impressively long iridescent upper tail and wing coverts of members of the genus Pharomachrus (including the Resplendent Quetzal).

Physical charateristics

This Mexican trogon can be separated from the Elegant Trogon by its black (not yellow) bill, lack of a white band
between the green and the red, and a greater amount of white on the underside of the blue tail. “Ears” of male inconspicuous.

Listen to the sound of Eared Quetzal

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/TROGONIFORMES/Trogonidae/sounds/Eared Quetzal.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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Middle America : West Mexico. Euptilotis neoxenus occurs almost throughout the mountains of west Mexico, in Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Jalisco and Michoacan states, and even sporadically within Arizona and New Mexico, USA. Until recently, it was considered very uncommon and locally distributed, but this probably stemmed from a lack of field studies in appropriate areas


Pine forests in mountains. In Arizona, has been found in several canyons, all with pine-oak forest and with other conifers such as Douglas-fir. In Mexican mountains, occurs mostly at elevations of 6,000-
10,000′, in coniferous and pine-oak forest, often near sheer rocky cliffs.


Breeding behavior is poorly known. Only a few nests have been observed, including one in Arizona. Breeding activity seems to be concentrated in late summer and early fall.
Nest: Site is in cavity in tree. Those found so far have been in apparent old flicker holes in large dead or partly dead trees, often growing well up on slopes of canyons. Nest cavities have been 25-70′ above the ground.

Clutch Apparently 2 eggs is the usual clutch. Incubation is probably by both parents, but details and incubation period not well known.
Young: Fed by both parents. Adults are very wary around the nest and easily disturbed by human intruders. Development of young and age at first flight are not well known.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and fruits.
Diet not known in detail. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, especially big ones such as katydids and large caterpillars. Also eats many small fruits and berries, such as those of madrone, especially in late summer and fall.
When foraging, perches upright, peering about rather slowly; then flutters up and takes an insect from foliage or grabs a berry with its bill, while hovering momentarily. At times may fly up to catch insects in midair.


This species is classed as Near Threatened because it probably has a moderately small population, which was recently thought to be stable, but could be threatened by deforestation within its range. Surveys are required, and if the population is found to be small and declining, the species may qualify for a higher threat category.
Widespread forest destruction in the region may adversely affect the species through the removal of trees with suitable nesting cavities, a problem compounded by uncertainty over seasonal movements
Eared Quetzal status Near Threatened


Mountains of Mexico. A rare visitor, and occasional b
reeder, to southeastern Arizona. Migration:
Probably no regular migration anywhere in its range. Has proven itself capable of wandering long distances, however, covering the open stretches of dry lowlands between mountain ranges in Arizona.

Distribution map

Eared Quetzal distribution range map

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