Studying The Quetzal in Boquete (Pharomachrus Mocinno)

The Resplendent Quetzal

From the old stories and tales, this legendary bird has become a world wide attraction… Meaning more than just a bird, is one of our Environment Indicators of a HEALTHY ECOSYSTEM.
The cloud forest might fool you, as the vegetation blends perfect with this clever friend. They normally nest in old tree trunks, exposing their tail as a technique known as mimethism to remain unnoticed. The old trunks provide shelter for their offspring, it also helps them stay warm enough from the dropping temperatures of the cloud forest during the night.
Quetzals can be seeing in flogs or in pairs. During the mating season this colorful bird shows off his gliding talent and seeks for females until he finds the right spot to nest. This is why all remain wood in the forest must stay, practicing this will help with the preservation of the specie.
The quetzal is an omnivore bird, they normally love this small avocado shaped fruit also known as ”Aguacatillo”. This fruit grows in the cloud forest, which is the main habitat of the Resplendent Quetzal. With plenty of trees and water do to the nice selection of Epiphytes, Quetzals are abundant in the mountains of Boquete.
Now, don’t let this last sentence fool you, this beautiful bird knows how to hide from the curious look of hawks and toucans who won’t mind to have a ‘bite’ from the fluffy quetzal. That’s why many tourist fail in the intent of seeing this clever fella.
You will think this is a common bird, but its not, actually its an endangered specie. Do to animal farming which is number 1 cause of global warming, deforestation and others, Quetzals are losing their homes. During the last 5 years a group of experts have dedicated their time to do counting of this specimen. Realizing that 60% of their population has disappeared. Most of them consequence of animal farming. 

The cloud forest won’t be the same without this legendary friend. “Do not avert your eyes. It is important that you see this. It is important that you feel this.” ― Kamand Kojouri

Amazingly there are six sub-species of Quetzal. Found in varying geographic locations including The Crested Quetzal, The Golden-headed Quetzal, The White-tipped Quetzal, The Pavonine Quetzal, The Eared Quetzal and the most famously known Resplendent Quetzal, all of which belong to the Trogon family of birds. Where 2 of those can be seen in Panama.

We owe most of our knowledge to Patricio Ortiz M. Specialized in animal behavior and Credit to:


This were hats indigenous people used to wear during the the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, most of the inhabitants of Central America shared a similar history. Now before the Spanish arrived to Central America, the Vikings were more fearful and respectful of this civilizations as they learned from previous encounters in Europe.

Warrior Suit

Spiritual Suit / Ceremony

Crested Quetzal

This close relative of the Resplendant Quetzal of Central America is uncommon and sometimes local, ranging from Colombia and Venezuela, south along the spine of the Andes into Bolivia.
Crested Quetzal is found in pristine cloud forest and mature second-growth forests in the upper tropical and temperate zones, from 1,200 to 3,000m. It is generally found at lower elevations than the Golden-headed Quetzal.


The Golden Headed Quetzal

The Golden-headed Quetzal takes its name from a bronzy tint to the green colors of its head feathering, but this feature is not always apparent in the dim light of the humid montane forests where it is found. Throughout much of its range, the distribution of the Golden-headed Queztal overlaps with that of the Crested Quetzal, and it is not unusual to see or hear both species at the same site.
These are the only two species of quetzals that overlap; it would be interesting to know more about the ecological relationships between the two species, but this has not been studied.


The White-tipped Quetzal

The White-tipped Quetzal occurs in the Santa Marta mountains of northern Colombia and in the mountain ranges of northern Venezuela.  Ranging form 900 to 2500 meters, it occurs in a wide variety of habitats from sub-tropical to temperate forests, cloud forests, secondary growth and forest edge.
The crown and nape are a green-bronze with bright green breast, back, rump and upper tail-coverts.  The belly and under tail-coverts are bright red, wings and upper tail are black with the under tail appearing white.  Feeds on fruits and berries which it plucks while sallying from a perch though it been seen eating a large lizard on at least one occasion.  Though it has the smallest distribution of any quetzal, it’s fairly common within it’s range.

The Pavonine Quetzal

Is a stunning trogon of the Amazon Basin.  It is found in terra firme forest at low elevation in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil and is replaced by other similar species of quetzal further west in the Andes.

 Metallic green overall with a red belly, the Pavonine Quetzal can be visually separated from other similar species by its reddish bill.  Males are green-headed with black undertails, while females have grayish heads with a gray breast band and white barring on the outer tail feathers.
This species has a call that consists of a long, mournful whistle followed by a shorter whistle; additionally, a series of deep, short whistles is sometimes given.

The Eared Quetzal

Previously known as the Eared Trogon, is a resident of highland pine, pine oak and pine evergreen forests of northwestern Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Occupying elevations from 1700 to 3000 m, this rare Mexican endemic has become a rare visitor and fairly recent rare breeder in southeastern Arizona. Eared Quetzal is named for its elongated postocular plumes, which are unique among trogons and quetzals. The crown of the adult male is bronze green with a dull black head and throat, a bronze green chest and bright red belly and undertail coverts.
The back and upperwing coverts are bronze green, becoming bright bluish green on the rump and uppertail  coverts. The upper tail is an iridescent blue, while the underside of the tail is white. Eared Trogon is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN, as its habitat has been greatly reduced by logging. Eared Quetzal nests in cavities in trees, and the loss of nest trees probably is the single greatest threat to this species.

The Resplendent Quetzal

Panama Pathfinders is the best option when it comes to study the Pharomachrus mocinno (Quetzal). We have a selected group of tour guides not just specialized on this field, but with more than 10 years of experience. Having an experienced well studied tour guide adds a lot not just for the tour, but to nature. As they know the ideal distance you must keep from the Quetzal, timing interacting with the bird and more important – The unknown secrets of this Majestic Bird. –