Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno


Justification of Red List Category
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.

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. It is thought that some subpopulations may be increasing or at least stable whilst others are declining (S. Renner in litt. 2016).

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

Distribution and population

This species 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 central Guatemala it is common in the Sierra Yaliux and Sierra de las Minas with stable populations in the early 2000s but likely declining due to habitat loss (Renner 2005). 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.


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; it may also be found in park-like clearings and pastures and open situations with scattered trees adjacent to forest (del Hoyo et al. 2001) but generally it prefers mature forest (S. Renner in litt. 2016). 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), mainly during the breeding period (S. Renner in litt. 2016). 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. Only decaying trunks or stumps that are still standing upright are suitable, these tend to only be found in undisturbed forests with very old trees (S. Renner in litt. 2016). Its incubation period is 17-19 days, followed by a fledging period of 23-31 days (del Hoyo et al. 2001). The species makes seasonal movements, wintering in distinct regions (S. Renner in litt. 2016).


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). In Monteverde, climate change has allowed Keel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus) to expand their range into the highlands bringing them into contact with P. mocinno where they compete for nest holes and prey on P. mocinno nests (Pounds et al. 1999 in ?ekercio?lu et al. 2012).

Conservation actions

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. In Guatemala the species has been subject to education and awareness programmes in some areas (S. Renner in litt. 2016). The species is included on the 'Watch List' of the State of North America's Birds as a species of high conservation concern (NABCI 2016).

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.


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

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Pharomachrus mocinno. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2022.