Rightly hailed by many people as the single most beautiful bird in the Western Hemisphere, the Resplendent Quetzal is quite simply magnificent in every sense of the word! A denizen of Central American cloud forests, this spectacular species played an important role in Mesoamerican mythologies, where it was regarded as divine and associated with the “snake god”, Quetzalcoatl. Its iridescent green tail feathers were particularly venerated by the ancient Maya and Aztecs, who viewed the bird as a symbol of goodness and light and incorporated these feathers into their rulers’ headdresses. So sacred were the quetzels regarded, that in order to acquire their feathers the Maya and Aztecs would capture live birds, carefully pluck the desired feathers, and then set them free unharmed into the wilderness again.
Our October image of the month was taken by Vivek Khandoze in Guatemala, where the Resplendent Quetzal is the nation’s national bird and even forms the name of its local currency. This splendid species is just one of many potential highlights on our upcoming Guatemala – Central American Specialties tour (11 to 19 January 2013, US$2,250 per person sharing), which still has spaces available. Other targets on this Neotropical birding adventure include the endangered Horned Guan, Blue-throated Motmot, Azure-rumped Tanager and gorgeous Pink-headed Warbler. We also offer a short extension to explore the remarkable Mayan ruins at Tikal, where further avian possibilities include Ocellated Turkey, Great Curassow, Grey-throated Chat and Rose-throated Tanager
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