One of the most beautiful bird species we have on this planet, trogons range in size and color, and are usually sexually dimorphic (males and females differ in appearance).
They live in tropical forests in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Here I will focus on the Neotropical species, where Trogonidae are most prevalent (24 species).
Found in Mexico, Central and South America, trogons are a favorite for birdwatchers due to their colorful nature.
There is also one trogon species in the U.S., the elegant trogon, that lives in the Arizona mountains. More trogon info here.
Although trogons vary in size, they are generally what you see photographed here, in the approximate range of 12 inches long (30 cm), weighing about 2.4 ounces (67 g).
The resplendent quetzal, also in the trogon family, is a similar size too, excluding his 26″ (65 cm) tail, (separate quetzal post here.)
Arboreal in nature, trogons feed on insects and fruit found in the forest. They fly fast, but do not migrate, even have to use their wings to turn around on a branch. With broad bills and weak legs, they live and stay in dense tree foliage.
The word “trogon” is Greek for “nibbling,” referring to their behavior of gnawing holes in trees to build nests.
Trogons have confounded taxonomists for centuries due to the birds’ unusual toe arrangement. They are the only creature in the world with digits 1 and 2 pointing backward, and digits 3 and 4 pointing forward; defining them as heterdactyly.
Quiet and reclusive, and tucked deep into forest foliage, trogons are not easy to spot.
With the help of a guide, I had my first challenging glimpse of a trogon two decades ago in Arizona, and they have been a favorite of mine ever since.
I have had the fortune of spotting many trogons since then, and earnestly search for them.
Even while touring a Mayan site in Belize, when I learned trogons lived in the surrounding trees, I spent more time visiting trogons than burial sites.
Quiet and elegant, trogons reign majestically over the forest, usually dazzling anyone who is fortunate enough to spot one.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander