quetzal bird
Insects & Birds

Top 10 Facts of the rare Quetzal bird

According to the research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (or UNAM), it was found that the Quetzal species are on the verge of extinction. The main causes determined by the research were habitat loss and poaching. With a history going back as far as the Mayan Empire, it is important to save this animal and inform ourselves about it. Here are the top 10 facts about the Resplendent Quetzal bird and its habitat.

How many Quetzal species are endangered?

First and foremost, it is with sadness that we have to start off this list since all Quetzals are endangered species. In total, there are 6 sub-species, and here’s a list of them:

  • Crested Quetzal
    The Crested Quetzal can be found in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. Its main color is more blue than green.
  • Golden-headed Quetzal
    To distinguish the Golden-headed Quetzal, as the name indicates, you will see that has a more flashy color than the rest of the body. This species can be found in Peru and in eastern Panama.
  • White-tipped Quetzal
    This bird loves living in the mountains. You will find White-tipped Quetzals mostly in northern Colombia and northern Venezuela between mountain trees. This one is easily distinguishable from its peers since it has a beautiful white feathered tail.
  • Pavonine Quetzal
    This green and red Quetzal can be found in rainforest and lowland areas. The female is sometimes completely blue, while the male has the usual green and red tones.
  • Eared Quetzal
    The Eared Quetzal can be found mainly in Mexico, in the pine-oak forests and canyons. You can find a few of them in Arizona but they are pretty rare. This one is often mistaken for the White-tipped Quetzal as it sports a similar white color to its tail.
  • Resplendent Quetzal
    Mainly found in Guatemala, the Resplendent Quetzal is claimed to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Its colors are shiny and mixed between, white, black, green, blue, and red.

What’s the currency in Guatemala?

The Guatemalan Quetzal, or GTQ, is the currency used in Guatemala. As you have noticed, the quetzal is inspired by the bird of the same name. In 2000 BC, the Mayans were using Quetzal feathers as currency. It was believed that the Quetzals were sacred animals, and it was forbidden to hunt or to kill them.

A little fun fact: the Guatemala Quetzals are divided into 100 centavos, or in 100 lens which is a slang name used by the locals.

What did the Quetzal represent for the Mayans?

For most Mayans and Aztec people, the Quetzals were venerated birds as they were seen as messengers of the God of the Air. It was forbidden to hurt them, but it was possible to get a feather if one was able to get close enough.

Moreover, the beautiful green feathers were representing the growth of plants during the spring season. Some people believed that if a Quetzel flew nearby, it was a sign of luck, goodness, and light.

What are the different main features of the Quetzal bird?

The males have longer tails than the female, which is one of the main features of this amazing bird. Because of it, you can spot a male Quetzal from far away since there are no other birds with such a tail. Furthermore, it takes about 3 long years before the male can grow its tail to the full length (which is normally 60 cm).

Females have shorter tails and share similar green, blue, and red colors. Both males and females reach a size of 13 to 16 inches when they are fully grown adults.

How long do Quetzal birds live in general?

The lifespan of a Quetzal bird in Guatemala is usually between 20 and 25 years. Some of them will live a little bit longer than that, but those are pretty rare since they don’t fly very high and have many predators looking for them, on top of human hunters.

How many eggs does the Quetzal female lay usually?

Funny enough, both the male and female will incubate the eggs alternatively during the mating season. The female Quetzal will lay between 1 and 3 eggs in a tree hole that was perforated beforehand, thanks to their strong little beaks.

Do the male and female Quetzal stay together?

During the mating season, the female will lay the eggs and the male will help incubate them. They will alternate until the babies are ready to come out of their shells. That being said, once that’s done, then the male and female will go their separate ways, as they will rarely stay together. Talk about tough love!

What color is the Quetzal bird?

The Quetzal has a very distinctive overall color which is an iridescent green, sometimes referred to as golden-green. On the other hand, its chest is a mix of red and orange. Finally, we can notice a deep black and clear white color under its wings, and the head is sometimes mixed with blue, red, and green.

What’s the diet of the Quetzal Bird?

These cute little birds love eating fruits such as avocados, but they will also eat many other things, including:

  • insects
  • lizards
  • small creatures

Interesting fact, the Quetzal will often eat its prey or the fruit whole, and sometimes those can be pretty big, but it somehow fits?

What are the predators of the El Quetzals?

Since the Quetzals can’t fly for a very long period of time, they spend most of their time in trees. It doesn’t help that they don’t fly very high either, and many predators are looking for them every day. Among these predators, we can find the following creatures:

  • Ornate hawk-eagle
  • Golden eagle
  • Owls
  • Emerald toucanets
  • Brown jays
  • Long-tailed weasels
  • Squirrels
  • Kinkajou

Wow, no wonder this bird is so rare! The Quetzal species is endangered so laws have been put in place to protect it. Unfortunately, this beautiful bird is still hunted. Hopefully, things will look brighter in the coming years for the Quetzals, since it is such an interesting and precious animal.

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