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Como Estas? Que-Tzal ?

Ryan Piercy
Jan. - Feb. 2002

The Resplendant Quetzal. This is a bird I had never heard of before coming to Costa Rica, but now see proof of its existence almost daily. It is used on every type of product from T-shirts to coffee, and constantly tourists are asking where they can explore to spot one. This search of the Quetzal seems to be based on a simple fact that humans are drawn to beautiful things, and as the name suggests, they are truly a magnificent looking creature.

The Quetzal is one of the most colorful birds !

The Quetzal a painting

The Quetzal belongs to the family of Trogons, which consist of 40 species worldwide. Trogons are best represented in the Americas, and are known for being amongst the most colorful of birds. The Quetzal itself is the largest species of the family, at 14" (36cm), but with the males boasting streamers that can add up to an additional 25" (64cm)! The families of Trogons perch upright, with long tails that extend almost straight down. It is easy to distinguish the male quetzal from the female, as females have a distinctively barred tail. Furthermore males, even without fully developed streamers, have a helmet like crest that extends to cover the base of the bill.

Quetzals are highly colorful, mostly glittering green, but with a deep maroon shading to crimson on lower breast and white tail on males, and females with a distinctly barred white and black tail, also with some duller crimson.

The preferred habitat of the Quetzal is damp mountain forests, where they frequent the canopy and edges, individually or in pairs. At times they may travel in small loose flocks while breeding, or looking for food such as insects or fruit trees, even small frogs and snails complete their diet. Like woodpecker they make their homes in tree cavities in decaying trunks, usually with one entrance. The female may lay two eggs, pale blue in color, maybe twice during March to June.

For those of you who are looking to spot this beauty of nature, they are known to be found fairly commonly from the Cordillera de Tilarán (about 4000 feet and up) to Panama (found at over 10,000 feet in the Cordillera Central and Talamanca.) And if you see one ask, "How are you." from me.

© El Residente ARCR Administración S.A. San José, Costa Rica N.B. Like all information on the internet, this article may currently be incorrect or out of date.

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