quetzal

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quetzal

quetzal (kĕtsälˈ) or quezal (kāsälˈ), common name for a magnificent bird of the family Trogonidae (trogon family), found in the rain forests from S Mexico to Costa Rica at altitudes of up to 9,000 ft (2,745 m). It is strikingly beautiful, with a crested head, bronze-green back, and crimson and white underparts. Quetzals nest in holes, and lay from two to four eggs per clutch. The male shares incubation duties with the female. The nesting hole has a single entrance, not two as was once believed. The Aztec and Maya used the 2-ft (61-cm) shimmering green tail plumes of the breeding male ceremonially and worshiped the bird as the god of the air, associating it with the god Quetzalcoatl. The quetzal, Pharomachrus mocino, is the national bird of Guatemala, and a monetary unit of the country is also called a quetzal. Quetzals are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Trogoniformes, family Trogonidae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Quetzal

 

(Pharomachrus mocino), a bird of the order Trogoniformes. The body (without the tail) measures approximately 40 cm long. The head, breast, and back are an iridescent green, the lower part of the breast and the abdomen are crimson, and the tail is black and white and entirely covered by very long (up to 80 cm) upper coverts. The bird inhabits the mountain rain forests of Central America, from southern Mexico to western Panama. It nests twice a year in tree hollows, producing two pale blue eggs at a time. The quetzal feeds on small fruits. The young are initially fed insects and small lizards, then fruits. The quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.