Resplendent Quetzal: Awe-Inspiring Beauty Beyond Compare

Quetzals are vibrant birds belonging to the trogon family, known for their captivating colors. They primarily inhabit forests, especially humid highlands. Among the five species in the Pharomachrus genus, four are exclusively found in the Neotropics, while the eared quetzal (Euptilotis neoxenus) can be spotted in Guatemala, occasionally in Mexico, and locally in the southernmost United States.

In Mexico, the eared quetzal can be found in the highlands of Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Jalisco, and Michoacán. Interestingly, there have been reports of occasional sightings and nesting of the eared quetzal in southeastern Arizona and New Mexico in the United States. The mating season for eared quetzals occurs from June to October.

Quetzals are relatively large birds, exceeding 32 cm (13 inches) in length, making them slightly larger than other trogon species. Their mesmerizing plumage includes iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest, and head, complemented by a red belly. Their wings are specially adapted to blend with wet and shiny green surroundings, providing effective camouflage during rainy conditions.

These birds exhibit strong sexual dimorphism, with females displaying brown or grey plumage. Interestingly, it may take up to three years for the male quetzals’ tails to grow to their maximum length after reaching maturity.

Despite their renowned colorful appearance, quetzals can be elusive in their natural wooded habitats. They are mostly solitary creatures that feed on fruits, berries, insects, and small vertebrates like frogs. The resplendent quetzal, with its vibrant colors, holds the distinction of being the national bird of Guatemala.

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