occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) This species is resident in the mountains of southern Arizona (Ramsey Canyon, rarely), northwestern Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Jalisco, and Michoacán, at elevations of 1,675-3,100 meters (mainly 2,100-2,800 meters; it has been recorded casually elsewhere in southern Arizona (Huachuca and Chiricahua mountains) and Sonora, and there is a sight report for southwestern New Mexico (Animas Mountains) (Morse 1987, Collar et al. 1992, Williamson 1992, AOU 1998). It nested unsuccessfully in upper Ramsey Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Arizona, in 1991 (Collar et al. 1992, Williamson 1992). The species exists at low densities in localized areas within its range (Collar et al. 1992, Howell and Webb 1995).
Length: 36 cm
Sierra Madre Occidental Pine-oak Forests Habitat
This taxon is found in the Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests ecoregion, which boasts some of the richest biodiversity anywhere in North America, and contains about two thirds of the standing timber in Mexico. Twenty-three different species of pine and about 200 species of oak reside within the Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests ecoregion.
Pine-oak forests here typically grow on elevations between approximately 1500 and 3300 meters, and occur as isolated habitat islands in northern areas within the Chihuahuan Desert. Soils are typically deep, where the incline allows soil build-up and derived from igneous material, although metamorphic rocks also form part of the soils in the west and northwest portions of the sierra. Steep-sloped mountains have shaped some portions of the Sierra, while others are dominated by their deep valleys, tall canyons and cliffs. These steep-sided cliffs have thinner soils limiting vegetation to chaparral types; characterized by dense clumps of Mexican Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens), Quercus potosina and Netleaf Oak (Q. rugosa). There are also zones of natural pasture, with grasses from the genera Arisitida, Panicum, Bromus and Stevis.
The pine-oak forests gradually transform into an oak-grassland vegetative association. Such communities represent an ecological transition between pine-oak forests and desert grasslands.. Here, species such as Chihuahuan Oak (Quercus chihuahuensis), Shin Oak (Q. grisea), Q. striatula and Emory Oak (Q. emoryi), mark a transition zone between temperate and arid environments, growing in a sparse fashion and with a well-developed herbaceous stratum resembling xeric scrub. Cacti are also part of these transition communities extending well into the woodlands. Some cacti species such as the Little Nipple Cactus (Mammillaria heyderi macdougalii), Greenflower Nipple Cactus (M. viridiflora), Mojave Mound Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus), and Leding's Hedgehog Cactus (E. fendleri var. ledingii) are chiefly centered in these biotic communities. The dominant vegetation in the northernmost part of the ecoregion in the Madrean Sky Islands includes Chihuahua Pine (Pinus leiophylla), Mexican Pinyon (P. cembroides), Arizona Pine (P. arizonica), Silverleaf Oak (Quercus hypoleucoides), Arizona White Oak (Q. arizonica), Emory Oak (Q. emoryi), Netleaf Oak (Q. rugosa), Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana), and Mexican Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens).
This ecoregion is an important area for bird richness and bird endemism. Likewise, virtually all of the ecoregion is included in the Sierra Madre Occidental and trans-mexican range Endemic Bird Area. Endemic bird species include the Thick-billed Parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha EN) which is in danger of extinction, with population estimates as low as 500 pairs; the Tufted Jay (Cyanocorax dickeyi NT), Eared Quetzal (Euptilptis neoxenus NT) and the Green-striped Brush Finch (Buarremon virenticeps). Temperate and tropical influences converge in this ecoregion, forming a unique and rich complex of flora and fauna. Many other birds are found in this ecoregion including the Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora), Eared Trogon (Euptilotis neoxenus NT), Coppery-tailed Trogon (Trogon elegans), Grey-breasted Jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina), Violet-crowned Hummingbird (Amazilia violiceps), Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis NT), and Golden Eagle (Aguila chryaetos). Some species found only in higher montane areas are the Gould's Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo mexicana), Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata), Mexican Chickadee (Poecile sclateri) and Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava).
The Sierra Madre Mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus madrensis NT) is an endemic to the Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests, restricted to southwestern Chihuahua, Mexico. The Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) and Mexican Grizzly Bear (Ursus horribilis), although considered by most to be extinct from this ecoregion, once roamed these mountains. Mammals also present include White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Buller’s Chipmunk (Tamias bulleri), endemic Zacatecan Deer Mouse (Peromyscus difficilis), rock Squirrel (Spernophilis variegatus), Zacatecas Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys zacatecae) and Coati (Nasua nasua), to set forth a subset of mammals present.
Reptiles are also numerous in this ecoregion. Fox´s Mountain Meadow Snake (Adelophis foxi) is an endemic taxon to the ecoregion, only observed at the type locality at four kilometers east of Mil Diez, about 3.2 kilometers west of El Salto, in southwestern Durango, Mexico. There are at least six species of rattlesnakes including the Mexican Dusky Rattlesnake (Crotalis triseriatus), Mojave Rattlesnake (C. scutulatus), Rock Rattlesnake (C. lepidus), Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (C. atrox), Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (C. pricei), and Ridgenose Rattlesnakes (C. willardi). Clark's Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus clarkii) and Yarrow's Spiny Lizard (S. jarrovii), Bunchgrass Lizard (S. scalaris), and Striped Plateau Lizard (S. virgatus) are several of the lizards found in the Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests.
Along springs and streams the Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti) and the Tarahumara Frog (Rana tamahumarae) are two anuran taxa occurring in the ecoregion. Other anuran taxa found here include: Bigfoot Leopard Frog (Lithobates megapoda), Northwest Mexico Leopard Frog (Lithobates magnaocularis) and the Blunt-toed Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus modestus VU). The Sacramento Mountains Salamander (Aneides hardii) is an endemic salamander found in the Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests, restricted to the Sacramento Mountains, Capitan Mountains, and Sierra Blanca in Lincoln and Otero Counties within southern New Mexico, USA.
- David E. Brown, ed. 1994. Biotic Communities: Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah. ISBN: 0874804590
- World Wildlife Fund & C. Michael Hogan. 2013."Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests". Encyclopedia of Earth, National Council for Science and the Environment, Washington DC ed. Rodney L. Honeycutt.
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Typical habitat includes pine and pine-oak forests (AOU 1998); this species also occurs in mixed conifer-broadleaf woodland of other kinds, and it also occurs in subtropical and tropical evergreen forests in winter. Nests are in tree cavities (e.g., dead pines; dead maple in Ramsey Canyon).
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Seasonal movement patterns are not well known. Individuals may move to lower elevations in the nonbreeding season.
Comments: Diet includes insects and fruits (e.g., of madrone).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: Unknown
Comments: The number of occurrences (subpopulations) has not been determined using standardized criteria.
2500 - 100,000 individuals
Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely is at least a few thousand. This species generally has been considered rare or uncommon and locally distributed within its range (Collar et al. 1992, Howell and Webb 1995), but surveys in the mid-1990s indicated that it is common in primary habitat and frequent (including nesting) in disturbed areas and riparian corridors in otherwise largely logged areas (Lammertink et al. 1996).
Life History and Behavior
Nesting occurs mostly in summer (June-July to September-October). Young depend on parents for weeks or months after fledging.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1B,N1N : N1B: Critically Imperiled - Breeding, N1N: Critically Imperiled - Nonbreeding
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Relatively small geographic range, mainly in Mexico; fairly common and rated as apparently stable in suitable habitat in the mid-1990s; vulnerable to loss of suitable nest trees from ongoing logging and could be declining as a result.
Global Short Term Trend: Unknown
Comments: Previously this species was though to be possibly declining from a variety of threats (Collar et al. 1992, Howell and Webb 1995), but more recent information suggests a relatively stable population (Lammertink et al. 1996).
Global Long Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 50%
Degree of Threat: Very high - high
Comments: Known threats include loss of nesting trees from increased logging pressure, outright destruction of habitat, agricultural encroachment, and increased human disturbance (Collar et al. 1992, Howell and Webb 1995).
La Michilía Biosphere Reserve is one of the most important sites for the species in Mexico (del Hoyo et al. 2001). Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the population size. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of deforestation throughout its range. Increase the area of suitable habitat with protected status. Conduct research into the species's breeding biology. Study the species's movements and dispersal patterns.
Biological Research Needs: Better information is needed on nest site selection, movements, and sensitivity to disturbance.
Global Protection: Few (1-3) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Comments: Some occurrences are in protected or managed areas: La Michilia Biosphere Reserve, Durango, Mexico; and Coronado National Forest, Arizona, U.S. (Collar et al. 1992, Williamson 1992).
Needs: Protection of several large areas of pine and pine-oak forest in Mexico is urgently needed (Collar et al. 1992).
The eared quetzal (Euptilotis neoxenus), also known as the eared trogon, is a near passerine bird in the trogon family, Trogonidae. It breeds in streamside pine-oak forests and canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico south to western Michoacán. It is sometimes seen as a vagrant to southeasternmost Arizona in the United States and has bred there. This range includes part of the Madrean Sky Islands region of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Sonora.
It is a resident of the middle to upper levels of pine-oak woodlands and oak-conifer forests, frequently along streams. It nests 5–9 m (16–30 ft) high in an unlined shallow tree cavity, usually selecting an old woodpecker hole. Nests have been observed in pine, fir, maple, and aspen trees. Limited excavation of the cavity is accomplished using the bill to dig into the rotten wood of the walls and opening.
Quetzals differ from typical New World trogons in having iridescent wing coverts, less extensive fusion between the two forward-facing toes of their heterodactyl foot, broad tails with distinctly convex (rather than straight or concave) sides, and eggs with pale blue shells. They also average larger in body size than typical trogons, and the eggs and young develop more slowly. The eared quetzal is a seemingly primitive form, lacking the impressively long iridescent upper tail and wing coverts of members of the genus Pharomachrus (including the resplendent quetzal).
Body length is 33–36 cm (13–14 in). Both sexes have iridescent green backs, iridescent dark blue central tail feathers, and outer tail feathers that are predominantly white terminally with a band of black at the base (sometimes partially barred black and white in females). The bill is dull gray with a slightly darker band at the tip. The adult male has a blackish head, iridescent green breast, and geranium red belly and undertail coverts. The adult female has a gray head, breast, and upper belly and less extensive (though equally bright) red on the lower belly. Both sexes bear the wispy hair-like auricular plumes that give the species its name, though these are rarely apparent in the field. Both head and bill appear rather small and narrow in comparison to those of typical trogons.
The male's song (tremolo call) is a series of whistled notes increasing in volume. Calls include low-intensity squeals rising in pitch, a loud squeal ending with a sharp "chuck," and a strident cackle given mostly in flight.
Eared quetzals feed on insects, small vertebrates, and fruit, including the warty red fruits of madrone trees. Caterpillars, moths, katydids, cicadas, small lizards, and other prey are fed to the young. Like other trogons, eared quetzals often pluck prey and fruit while hovering.
Members of this species have been observed to exhibit aversion to large areas of conspicuous color on and near human observers (negative chromotropic responses), including white, red, orange, and blue. This suggests that the species-confidence hypothesis, which states that birds tend to be attracted to colors that match those found in their species and repelled by colors not found in their species, does not apply to eared quetzals.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Euptilotis neoxenus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Williamson, S. L. (1992). The Eared Trogon in Arizona: Behavior, ecology, and management of the "Northern Quetzal." pp. 98–101 in Proceedings of the Chiricahua Mountains Research Symposium, 15–16 March 1992. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, Tucson, Arizona.
- Gutzwiller, Kevin J. and Marcum, Heidi A. "Avian Responses to Observer Clothing Color: Caveats From Winter Point Counts". Wilson Bulletin 105 (4): 628–636.