In Quetzals, renowned ornithologist Alan Poole introduces readers to one of the world's most alluring group of birds. Native to the cloud forests of Mexico, Central and South America, quetzals have played an essential role in the cultures of those lands, where their radiant, brightly colored feathers have been worshipped as sacred objects and coveted as luxury goods for millennia.
Weaving scientific and historical facts, Poole details the natural history and cultural significance of these legendary birds. He focuses on the most iconic of quetzal species, the Resplendent Quetzal, delving into their distinctive ecology and behavior. He offers an overview of four other known quetzal species – the Pavonine Quetzal, the Golden-headed Quetzal, the White-tipped Quetzal, and the Crested Quetzal – and traces their evolutionary descent from the trogons. Spectacular photographs and illustrations accompany details of quetzal ecology, the long history of their place in the Mayan and Aztec worlds, and current conservation efforts.
A celebration of quetzals and the forests that nurture them, Quetzals is a must-have for anyone who wants to better understand these awe-inspiring birds.
Alan Poole is an associate of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and former editor of Birds of North America. He is the author of Ospreys.
"This book is a gem. Filled with vivid photos, beautiful artwork, and engaging writing on the historical origins, present day distributions, and uncertain but hopeful future of this iconic group of birds, Quetzals is a must-have for all bird enthusiasts."
– Steve Hilty, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas
"It is time the resplendent quetzal had a biographer, and avian life historian Alan Poole is the person for the job. Placing it in its proper ornithological, historical, and botanical contexts, he weaves a compelling story of this near-mythical bird whose sheer beauty could save it – and the mist-shrouded cloud forest it inhabits."
– Julie Zickefoose, author of Saving Jemima
"With Alan Poole masterfully guiding us into their tropical forest haunts, we behold in these pages just how utterly extraordinary and captivating quetzals truly are."
– Carl Safina, author of Alfie and Me
"Stunning. With great patience, a detail-focused scientific eye, and a poet's language, Poole brings us into the awe-inspiring world of a bird with resplendent in its name and iridescence in its wings."
– David Gessner, author of All the Wild That Remains