Quetzal

The quetzal is a brilliantly plumed bird of Mexico and Central America, and sacred bird of the Aztec.  The quetzal is pronounced ket SAHL.

The male, hardly larger than a dove, has glittering, emerald green-and-crimson feathers, with graceful tail streamers over three feet long.

This inactive bird sits quietly for long periods on a perch in the dense forest, darling off only to capture insects.  The ancient Mayas and Aztecs found the quetzal so impressive that no one was allowed to harm it.

They used the long tail feathers (plucked without harm to the living bird) as symbol of authority and religion.  Only chiefs and priests were allowed to wear them.

Today the quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala, where it appears on postage stamps, coins and on the state seal.  Guatemala is sometimes called the “Land of the Quetzal.”  – Dick Rogers

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