Golden-headed Quetzal (Pharomachrus auriceps)

Golden-headed Quetzal

[order] TROGONIFORMES | [family] Trogonidae | [latin] Pharomachrus auriceps | [authority] Gould, 1842 | [UK] Golden-headed Quetzal | [FR] Quetzal dore | [DE] Goldkopf-Trogon | [ES] Quetzal Cebecidorado | [NL] Goudkopquetzal


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

Adult males are iridescent green with a golden cast to their heads, black wings, bright red bellies, and a yellow bill. The female is duller with a greyer head and lower chest and a dusky bill. Both sexes have an entirely blackish undertail

Listen to the sound of Golden-headed 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.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 18 days incubation max.: 19 days
fledging min.: 19 days fledging max.: 21 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


South America : Venezuela to North Bolivia


They live in humid highland forests and are uncommon to locally fairly common


It will typically lay one or two eggs. Incubation takes 18 days and both the male and the female take turns sitting on the nest. Since the male cannot fit his tail in the nest, he must leave the plumes outside while sitting on his eggs. The parents feed the chicks small insects. The young will stay in the nest for 20 days.

Feeding habits

Although they mainly eat fruit, it will also eat wasps, ants and frogs. The two most important parts of the diet are avocadoes and fruit of the laurel. They will swallow this fruit whole and then later regurgitate the pits.

Video Golden-headed Quetzal


copyright: Stefan Behrens


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.
Throughout much of its range, the distribution of the Golden-headed Queztal overlaps with that of the Crested Quetzal, and it is not unusual to see or hear both species at the same site. These are the only two species of quetzals that overlap.
Golden-headed Quetzal status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Golden-headed Quetzal distribution range map

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