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Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid population decline, owing to widespread deforestation. Monitoring is required to confirm the rate of decline, and the results could lead to uplisting to a higher threat category.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
Pharomachrus mocinno occurs throughout the montane cloud-forests of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama east to Cerro San Antonio in Veraguas (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Howell and Webb 1995a, Angehr and Jordán 1998). It is common in the Cordillera de Talamanca and protected cloud-forests in Costa Rica (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 1999, F. G. Stiles in litt. 1999), Cerro El Arenal and Cerro Kilambe reserves, Nicaragua (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 1999) and Sierra de Agalta National Park, Honduras (M. Bonta in litt. 1999), but otherwise uncommon to locally common. In Costa Rica in 1977, it was estimated that there were 12,868-13,821 individuals in Talamanca Forest and 4,652-4,997 in La Amistad National Park, based on the extrapolation of a density of 2.7-2.9 birds/km2 (del Hoyo et al. 2001). In 2007, populations in Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Costa Rica during the breeding season were estimated at 2,810-4,780 mature individuals, with 2,300-6,246 mature individuals estimated in the IBAs of Panama (J. Criado et al. in litt. 2007). Its populations are presently in decline.

Population justification
Partners in Flight estimated the population to number fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), thus it is placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals here.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to widespread deforestation.

This species is usually found in the canopy and subcanopy of undisturbed, humid, epiphyte-laden evergreen montane forest, cloud-forest, thickly vegetated ravines and cliffs, park-like clearings and pastures and open situations with scattered trees adjacent to forest (del Hoyo et al. 2001). It occurs at 900-2,275 m in Oaxaca (Mexico), and at 1,200-1,500 m up to 3,200 m further south in its range (del Hoyo et al. 2001). It is mostly frugivorous, annually feeding on at least 41 species in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica (Wheelwright 1983). However, it depends mostly on c.18 species of the laurel family (Lauraceae), and the phenologies and habitat distributions of the Lauraceae appear to dictate the timing and direction of seasonal altitudinal movements between c.1,000 and c.3,000 m (Wheelwright 1983, Loiselle et al. 1989). The species also feeds on insects, small frogs, lizards and snails (del Hoyo et al. 2001). Breeding takes place in March-August. Its territory was measured at 6-10 ha in Guatemala. Its nest, in which it lays 1-2 eggs, is a deep, unlined cavity in a decaying trunk or stump. Its incubation period is 17-19 days, followed by a fledging period of 23-31 days (del Hoyo et al. 2001).

It is threatened largely by widespread deforestation throughout its range. The main problem for the Monteverde population is the fragmentation and destruction of forests to which it descends in the non-breeding season (Powell and Bjork 1994), and this is probably applicable to many populations. Some direct persecution probably still occurs, particularly in south Mexico, but this appears to have reduced (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Howell and Webb 1995a).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. The species is an important symbol for conservation in Central America and reserves have been established to facilitate its protection, but these tend to be small and include limited representations of critical habitat (Wheelwright 1983). It occurs in several national parks throughout its range. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain an up-to-date population estimate. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor habitat loss and degradation throughout its range. Create habitat corridors between higher and lower forests to facilitate altitudinal movements (del Hoyo et al. 2001). Protect forests at both higher and lower elevations that are used by the same populations.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Angehr, G. R.; Jordan, O. 1998. Report on the Panama Important Bird Areas program. Panama Audubon Society/BirdLife International, Ancon, Panamá.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 2001. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Howell, S. N. G.; Webb, S. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Loiselle, B. A.; Blake, J. G.; Moermond, T. C.; Mason, D. J. 1989. Low elevation record for Resplendent Qutzals in Costa Rica. Journal of Field Ornithology 60: 86-88.

Powell, G. V. N.; Bjork, R. D. 1994. Implications of altitudinal migration for conservation strategies to protect tropical biodiversity: a case study of the Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus moccino at Monteverde, Costa Rica. Bird Conservation International 4(2/3): 161-174.

Ridgely, R. S.; Gwynne, J. A. 1989. A guide to the birds of Panama with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Stiles, F.G. and Skutch, A.F. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Wheelwright, N.T. 1983. Fruits and the ecology of Resplendent Quetzals. The Auk 100: 286-301.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J.

Biamonte, E., Bonta, M., Criado, J., Sandoval, L., Sharpe, C J, Stiles, F., Sánchez, C., Sánchez, J., Zook, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pharomachrus mocinno. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Trogonidae (Trogons)
Species name author de la Llave, 1832
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 149,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species