Eared Quetzal Euptilotis neoxenus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

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 believed to be stable (Lammertink et al. 1996). Tracewski et. al. (2016) found that recent forest loss in the range of this species was equivalent to <1% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Euptilotis neoxenus occurs almost throughout the mountains of west Mexico, in Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Jalisco and Michoacán states, and even sporadically within Arizona and New Mexico, USA. Until recently, it was considered very uncommon and locally distributed, but this probably stemmed from a lack of field studies in appropriate areas (Lammertink et al. 1996). Surveys in 1995 showed it to be common in primary habitat, and frequent (including nesting) in disturbed areas and riparian corridors in otherwise largely logged areas (Lammertink et al. 1996). The population is believed to be stable (Lammertink et al. 1996) and a remote-sensing study found that recent forest loss in the species's range was negligible (potentially <1% over three generations; Tracewski et al. 2016).


This species inhabits montane pine, pine-oak and pine-evergreen forests (del Hoyo et al. 2001). It is found in the upper and middle storeys of forest, particularly along watercourses in canyons, generally at 1,800-3,000 m, being most abundant at 2,100-2,800 m. It tends to nest in riparian corridors where habitat is generally intact. During winter in Mexico, it may move into lush subtropical and tropical evergreen habitat in barrancas and canyons. It feeds on insects, including moths, and fruit, though lizards are fed to nestlings (González-Rojas et al. 2008). Caterpillars and beetles are reportedly fed to its young. Pairs form in April-June, and breeding occurs in June-October, sometimes as early as April. It nests in tree cavities (del Hoyo et al. 2001, González-Rojas et al. 2008).


Forest destruction in the region may adversely affect the species through the removal of trees with suitable nesting cavities (Lammertink et al. 1996), a problem compounded by uncertainty over seasonal movements. Competition for cavities may be a limiting factor in breeding success (González-Rojas et al. 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
La Michilía Biosphere Reserve is one of the most important sites for the species in Mexico (del Hoyo et al. 2001). This species is on the watch list as part of the State of North America's Birds (North American Bird Conservation Initiative 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the population size. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of deforestation throughout its range. Increase the area of suitable habitat with protected status. Conduct research into the species's breeding biology. Study the species's movements and dispersal patterns.


Text account compilers
Westrip, J., Isherwood, I., Wheatley, H., Taylor, J., Sharpe, C.J., Benstead, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Euptilotis neoxenus. Downloaded from on 19/07/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/07/2019.