Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Quetzal

One of the most beautiful birds in the world, the quetzal, Pharomachrus mocino, lives in humid mountain forests of southern Mexico and Central America. It is a member of the trogon family, Trogonidae.

The male is bright metallic green with golden high-light above and scarlet below, with the underside of the tail being white. Males measure about 38 cm (15 in) in length and beyond the end of the tail have a magnificent train of long green feathers that extends another 38 to 76 cm (15 to 30 in). These are not tail feathers; rather, they are elongated upper tail covers. In the duller colored female, this train of feathers is short. The quetzal figured prominently in the art mythology of cultures of the region.


The quetzal, a Central American bird of great beauty, is the national bird of Guatemala. Aztecs and Mayans regarded the quetzal as sacred, plucking tail plumes from living male birds for ceremonial purpose.

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