Mystery creature revealed – the Resplendent Quetzal

Mystery creature revealed – the Resplendent Quetzal

How did you do with last month’s Mystery Creature? I know I am a bit (very) late posting this reveal, I’ve been busy in the background, despite the quiet status of the blog of late.

Rather than a long ramble, back to the task at hand, the reveal… last months Mystery Creature was the aptly named Resplendent Quetzal!

Image credit:By Supreet Sahoo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58173977

The Resplendent Quetzal

The Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) belongs to the Trogon family. There are two recognised subspecies… P. m. mocinno and P. m. costaricensis.

Here are five more facts about these amazing birds

1. These beautiful birds are found in mountainous rainforests of Central America. Their habitat stretches from Southern Mexico to Western Panama. They are particularly partial to cloud forests, hanging out near the top of the tall forest canopies, blending in with all the natural colour around them.

2. Resplendent Quetzal are not strong flyers. They prefer to take short flights or hop among the branches. They have an interesting toe configurations, with two toes facing forwards, two facing backwards. This facilitates good gripping in the branches in the forest canopies they prefer. They are not so good for walking though, which is why they are very rarely spotted down on the ground.

3. Resplendent Quetzal were much revered by ancient civilisations such as the Aztecs and the Mayans; They were considered sacred birds, not surprisingly, as they really do have a beautiful plumage of iridescent green/blue feathers with a red breasted front. Males tend to be a little more colourful than females. The males grow two very long tail feathers on reaching sexual maturity. These feathers can grow up to a metre in length and often featured in royal costume among the Aztecs and the Mayan people.

4. It is the national bird of Guatemala, visible on their flag and coat of arms. In fact their currency is called Quetzal too.

Image source: wiki commons

5. Male Resplendent Quetzal are not thought to reach sexual maturity for many years. This is when they grow those two impressive tail features, hoping to show themselves off and attract a mate. Males will also perform fairly lavish displays and dances, which an interested female may mimic. Mating pairs dig a nest out of rotten tree stumps or branches and both parents are involved in incubating the brood of two to three pale blue eggs that the female lays. The chicks are often ready to fly within three weeks of hatching but it can take a few months before they fully fly the nest. The mother will then be finished with her duty of care but it has been reported that the father will still supplement their diets for a year or more.

I’m sure you will agree, a very interesting and beautiful bird. Check back tomorrow for this month’s Mystery Creature, see if you can guess what it is.

 

Mystery Creature revealed – the Cassowary

Mystery Creature revealed – the Cassowary

How did you do with January’s Mystery Creature? It was a Cassowary, a Southern Cassowary to be exact. Did you guess it? I know that seven year-old Daniel from Singapore did, well done Daniel!

Here are ten interesting facts about the Cassowary:

cassowary2

Image Credit: Magdalene-b

Ten facts about the Cassowary

  1. Cassowaries are large flightless birds.

    There are three species currently recognised, the Southern Cassowary, the Northern Cassowary and the dwarf Cassowary. They are all considered endangered species. The Southern Cassowary is the largest, growing up to 1.6 M in height, making them the third largest bird on Earth (behind the Ostrich and the Emu).

  2. Cassowaries live in New Guinea and surrounding Islands as well as north-eastern Australia.

    The Southern Cassowaries are the only ones found in Australia.

  3. They are shy creatures by nature, usually keeping to the dense habitat of tropical forests.

    They may also be found in shrub lands, grasslands and swaps on the outskirts of dense forests. They are easily spooked and tend to run away if approached.

  4.  Cassawaries are considered very dangerous birds.

    Although shy by nature, if cornered, these birds can attack with serious consequences. They have a very powerful kick and a large, spiked nail on their middle toe can cut a deep gash in a victim.

  5. They can run very fast;

    Cassowaries can run at speeds of up to 50 km/hr.

  6. Cassowaries are omnivores.

    They prefer a dies of fruit and seeds but will also eat small vertebrates and invertebrates. They are very important seed distributors within the rain forest.

  7. The female Cassowary is stronger and larger than her male counterpart.

    Unlike with many other bird species, the female is also equally as colourful.

  8. Parenting is a father-only affair.

    Once the female lays her eggs she disappears, leaving the male to sit on the eggs and rear the young. The egg incubation period lasts for about 50 days and the male can loose a third of his body weight during this time. Juvenile cassowaries have a dull brown plumage.

  9. Cassowaries can live for decades.

    In captivity they will often live up to 50 years.

  10. They have a bizzare structure on top of their heads, called a casque.

    This is a hollow horn like crest and the purpose of this appendage is unknown. There are many theories though as to its role or function; something it is serves a protective function; cassowaries tend to run through the forests at great speed with their head down, perhaps the casque acts as a type of helmet if they accidentally hit a tree. Or they may protect from large falling seeds as the cassowaries often hang out under trees waiting to eat falling fruit. The casque may serve as a sexual ornament, to attract a mate. It make be a handy tool for digging for seeds or other foods. Perhaps the most likely role for this unusual appendage is a resonating device, helping in some way to amplify the low frequency sounds made by the birds.

Cassowary

Southern Cassowary - Image Credit: Ronnie23

I think these amazing creatures serve as a great visual reminder to the fact that birds are living decedents of dinosaurs.

Check back next Monday for a new Mystery Creature!