1. Education
Laura Klappenbach

Saving Guatemala's National Bird

By October 28, 2004

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Guatemala's national bird, the quetzal (Pharomachrus mocino), faces serious threats from habitat destruction, logging, cattle ranching, forest fires, and even the depletion of the water supply that feeds their habitat. Find out what local people are doing to combat these threats and increase the quality of habitat for the quetzal.

Comments

August 29, 2006 at 6:33 pm
(1) dffhsdf says:

do you know anyone that I can donate money to to help the quetzal?

April 30, 2007 at 6:39 pm
(2) alex says:

does guatemala have a really speical bird except the quetzal?

March 25, 2008 at 5:34 pm
(3) Lena says:

I am doing a research project on the quetzal and am wondering what does it looklike. and where does it come from

April 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm
(4) Ariel says:

Early History

This famous bird has a long history, as it was the spiritual protector of the Mayan chiefs. It is said that the Quetzal would accompany them everywhere, aiding them in battle, and dying when they died. Legend has it that when Spanish Conquistado Pedro de Alvarado and his Spaniards attacked the Mayans in 1524, the Quetzal appeared crying out and pecking at Alvarado.
At the exact moment when Alvarado pierced Tecum Uman [the chief], the sacred Quetzal fell silent and plummeted to earth, covering the body of the regal [Mayan] with its long and soft green plumes. After keeping a deathwatch through the night, the bird that rose from the cacique’s [chieftan's] lifeless body was transformed. It was no longer the pure green of jade. Its breast had soaked up the blood of the fallen warrior, and so, too, became crimson, the shade of Mayan blood, as it has remained to this day (Maslow, p.19).

The Mayans proved just as unlucky as their chief; 30,000 of them succumbed to the superior firepower of the Spaniards. The Spanish had horses whereas the Mayans were on foot. Therefore, the Spaniards could easily chase down the Mayans, and without any guns the Mayans did not stand a chance. Their population was decimated. Alvaredo would become known as the founder of Guatemala. But the legend of the defeat of Tecum Uman and the sacrifice of the Quetzal at Quetzaltenango (place of the Quetzal) would not be forgotten.

April 3, 2008 at 12:45 pm
(5) ARIEL says:

The Quetzal is green and black, has a long tail, yellow beak, and has feathers sticking up on top of it’s head.

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