Quetzals are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family (Trogonidae). They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico (marginally also in adjacent U.S. states). They have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, and a red belly. They are strongly sexually dimorphic, and parts of the females' plumage is brown or grey. These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (e.g. frogs), and can, despite the bright plumage, be surprisingly difficult to see in their wooded habitats.
The name "quetzal" is from Nahuatl quetzalli, "large brilliant tail feather" (American Heritage Dictionary) or "tail coverts of the quetzal" (Merriam–Webster's Collegiate Dictionary), from the Nahuatl root quetz = "stand up" used to refer to an upstanding plume of feathers.
The word "quetzal" was originally used for just the Resplendent Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, the famous long-tailed quetzal of Central America, which is the national bird of Guatemala. It still often refers to that bird specifically but now also names all the species of the genera Pharomachrus and Euptilotis.
Pharomachrus is from Ancient Greek pharos, "mantle", and makros, "long", referring to the wing and tail coverts of the Resplendent Quetzal (the second h is unexplained).
- Genus Pharomachrus:
- Genus Euptilotis:
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