Pharomachrus – Quetzals

Fierce competitors for the title of the world's most exotic and beautiful bird

Quetzals are among the most iconic and revered bird species in the world, known for their striking beauty and brilliant plumage. These birds belong to the trogon family, and the resplendent quetzal, in particular, is famous for its vibrant colors and long tail feathers. They are found in Central America’s mountainous, tropical forests, where they are often seen as symbols of freedom and wealth due to their elusive nature and historical significance in pre-Columbian cultures.

Quetzals typically lead solitary lives except during breeding season, when they pair up to mate. Their social behavior changes when it comes to feeding, as they sometimes gather in numbers at fruiting trees, taking advantage of the abundant food source. Their foraging activity peaks around midday when they actively seek out fruits and other food items.

The diet of quetzals is mainly frugivorous, with a particular fondness for wild avocados and other fruits of the laurel family, which are critical for their survival. However, their diet is not limited to fruits; they also consume a range of animals, including frogs, lizards, and insects like wasps, ants, and larvae, which provide necessary protein, especially for the growing chicks.

Quetzals play a pivotal role in their ecosystems as seed dispersers. The fruits they consume pass through their digestive tract, and the seeds are later excreted in different locations, contributing to the growth of new plants and the overall health of the forest.

The beauty of quetzals, especially their feathers, has made them a target for illegal wildlife trade. They are captured for the pet trade, and those who do not survive are often stripped of their feathers, which are highly prized. This practice threatens their populations and disrupts the delicate balance of their natural habitats.