The resplendent quetzal is an important environmental and conservation symbol in Central America through its role as a flagship species, associated with old growth cloud forest habitat. These forest however, are under increasing pressure from human activities. Deforestation rates are high in cloud forest regions in Mexico and Central America. For example, above 1400 meters, the annual deforestation rate in Latin America is 1.1% as compared with a lowland rate of 0.8%. So it is a critical time to provide quetzals with articificial nest boxes that may lead to populations expansion.
The quetzal project is also important because the species is an iconic bird found in southern Mexico and Central America. The quetzal’s cultural significance can be traced to pre-Columbian tribes of the region that portrayed the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcóatl with a headdress that prominently displayed the long tail feathers of the quetzal. These feathers were also worn by rulers and given as tribute. Tail feathers were part of an extensive long-distance highland-lowland and coastal trade network developed during the Classic Maya civilization.
I am an associate professor of geography at the University of Alabama and curator of ornithology at the University's Natural History Museum. I have worked in Latin America for more than 15 years including Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, and Cuba. My research there focuses on a variety of interdisciplinary conservation and political ecological topics. I have published on the decline of maize diversity in Guatemala and Belize, deforestation and avifaunal conservation using remote sensing, and human-driven environmental changes on Guatemala’s alpine grassland environment.
For more information about our project, please see www.briloon.org/quetzal.
Won’t you please help us conserve this strikingly beautiful bird species and its haunting cloud-forest habitat? Every dollar counts (minimum contribution of USD$10), and your donation is 100% tax-deductible. Thank you!