Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)

Resplendent Quetzal

[order] TROGONIFORMES | [family] Trogonidae | [latin] Pharomachrus mocinno | [authority] de la Llave, 1832 | [UK] Resplendent Quetzal | [FR] Quetzal resplendissant | [DE] Quetzal | [ES] Quetzal Guatemalteco, Quetzal (Cr) | [NL] Quetzal


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

Its golden-green iridescence, uniquely long and flowing uppertail coverts, acute crest on its head, and contrasting deep red, black, and white plumage make this bird hard to misidentify. The female lacks the long tail coverts and some of the brilliant coloration of the male, yet she still is iridescent green and more showy than the female of any other species of trogon. (Cornell neotropicals)

Listen to the sound of Resplendent Quetzal

[audio: Quetzal.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 50 cm wingspan max.: 55 cm
size min.: 36 cm size max.: 40 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 19 days
fledging min.: 25 days fledging max.: 29 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Middle America : South Mexico to West Panama. The Resplendent Quetzal is found in southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, northern Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and western Panama (Stotz et al. 1996). The subspecies mocinno inhabits southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, eastern El Salvador, and north-central Nicaragua.


This species is usually found in the canopy and subcanopy of undisturbed, humid, epiphyte-laden vergreen montane forest, cloud-forest, thickly vegetated ravines and cliffs, park-like clearings and pastures and open situations with scattered trees adjacent to forest. The Resplendent Quetzal prefers montane evergreen forest (cloud forest). Quetzals prefer cloud forests in which the trees are 30-45 m tall. Habitat selection in Costa Rica is closely tied to the existence of fruit-bearing trees of the laurel family (Lauraceae), which includes the wild avocado.


Nests are cavities, excavated in dead trees or stumps by the male and female. They appear like that of a large woodpecker averaging about 9 meters up. Nest cavities generally measure 10 cm at the entrance, with the nest 20 cm back, and a total depth of 30 cm. The clutch size is two eggs. In addition to nest building, the male and female share in incubation which lasts from 17-19 days. The female incubates over the night and the middle of the day and the male incubates in the morning and evening. Both parents are involved in provisioning of the young.Chicks fledged at one nest at 23 days and at 29 days at two others. Resplendent Quetzals raise two clutches each year.

Feeding habits

The Resplendent Quetzal primarily is frugivorous, although it occasionally take insects or lizards, especially to feed young. The Resplendent Quetzal forages in the midstory of the forest.

Video Resplendent Quetzal


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid population decline, owing to widespread deforestation. Monitoring is required to confirm the rate of decline, and the results could lead to uplisting to a higher threat category.
It is threatened largely by widespread deforestation throughout its range. The main problem for the Monteverde population is the fragmentation and destruction of forests to which it descends in the non-breeding season, and this is probably applicable to many populations. Some direct persecution probably still occurs, particularly in south Mexico, but this appears to have reduced
Resplendent Quetzal status Near Threatened


Presumed sedentary, but will wander if fruit availability is minimum.

Distribution map

Resplendent Quetzal distribution range map

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