Q is for Quetzal! There are six species of this magnificent bird and one of which (Eared) has made a home in Arizona! Quetzal is Spanish for “Long tail feathers”. Having migrated across the Sierra Madres of Mexico and settled in the Madrean Sky Islands of southeast AZ, they prefer rotting trees and stumps for roosting—as long as they’re at least thirty feet above ground. Still, it’s hard to miss the vivid colors and impressive size; they’re about 14 inches long and males have tails that can extend to thirty inches! Guys have all the luck!
While several years may pass between sightings, here in Arizona, every birder will tell you it’s an unforgettable event and well worth the effort to wait one out. They caution unwary birders because the Quetzal can sneak right up on you without you knowing!
To the ancient Mayans the Quetzal was sacred; representing wealth and freedom. Their feathers were worn by dignitaries or used as a form of currency, but it was forbidden to kill a Quetzal. Among the numerous legends regarding these birds, one is that although they once had a beautiful song, they will now remain quiet until freedom is restored.
|Libertad 15 de Septiembre DE 1821|
The Resplendent Quetzal is the symbol for Guatemala; which also trades in a currency called ‘Quetzal’. These gorgeous birds are endangered there, mostly through loss of habitat.
However, in the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica, protected lands preserve the habitats for the benefit of the birds and the adoration of birders from all over the world, as well.