Photo: Moore Laboratory/Flickr Creative Commons

Eared Quetzal

Euptilotis neoxenus

Long regarded as a rare and elusive specialty of the Mexican mountains, this big trogon stunned birders by appearing north of the border in 1977, with a family group in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains. Since then it has occurred several more times in Arizona, in at least four ranges, and has been found nesting. Only a distant relative of the Elegant Trogon, this species is more closely related to the quetzals of the deep tropics.
Conservation status A recent arrival in United States, still present in extremely low numbers. On native range in Mexico, probably threatened by loss of habitat.
Family Trogons
Habitat Pine forests in mountains. In Arizona, has been found in several canyons, all with pine-oak forest and with other conifers such as Douglas-fir. In Mexico, occurs mostly at elevations of 6,000-10,000' in the mountains, in coniferous and pine-oak forest, often near sheer rocky cliffs.
Long regarded as a rare and elusive specialty of the Mexican mountains, this big trogon stunned birders by appearing north of the border in 1977, with a family group in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains. Since then it has occurred several more times in Arizona, in at least four ranges, and has been found nesting. Only a distant relative of the Elegant Trogon, this species is more closely related to the quetzals of the deep tropics.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
Feeding Behavior

Will perch quietly, turning and tilting its head slowly as it peers about. After spotting a choice berry, or an insect sitting on a leaf, the bird will fly out and hover as it plucks the item, and then swoop away to another perch. Also, at times may fly up to catch insects in mid-air.


Eggs

Apparently 2 eggs make up the usual clutch; eggs are pale blue. Incubation is probably by both parents, but details and incubation period not well known. Young: Fed by both parents. Adults are very wary around the nest, and easily disturbed by human intruders. Development of young and age at first flight are not well known.


Young

Fed by both parents. Adults are very wary around the nest, and easily disturbed by human intruders. Development of young and age at first flight are not well known.

Diet

Mostly insects and fruits. Diet not known in detail. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, especially big ones such as katydids and large caterpillars. Also eats many small fruits and berries, such as those of madrone, especially in late summer and fall.


Nesting

Breeding behavior is poorly known. Only a few nests have been observed, including one in Arizona. Breeding activity seems to be concentrated in late summer and early fall. Nest site is in cavity in tree. Those found so far have been in apparent old flicker holes in large dead or partly-dead trees, often growing well up on slopes of canyons. Nest cavities have been 25-70' above the ground.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Probably no regular migration anywhere in its range. Has proven itself capable of wandering long distances, however, covering the open stretches of dry lowlands between mountain ranges in Arizona.

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Migration

Probably no regular migration anywhere in its range. Has proven itself capable of wandering long distances, however, covering the open stretches of dry lowlands between mountain ranges in Arizona.

Songs and Calls
Song a series of tremulous whistles, increasing in volume. Calls include a squeaky, tenuous, rising weee or suwee, usually closing with a sharp KT!; a high, quavering Blue Jay–like kee-yah, repeated in rapid series on one pitch; and a harsh, rattling, descending krr-krr-krr.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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