Trogons

Elegant Trogon, Mexico

Elegant Trogon, Mexico

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).

 

Violaceous Trogon, Costa Rica

Violaceous Trogon, Costa Rica

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.

 

Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica

Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica

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.

 

Citreoline Trogon, Mexico

Citreoline Trogon, Mexico

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.

 

Mtn Trogon, Mexico

Mtn Trogon, Mexico

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.

 

Black-headed Trogon, Belize

Black-headed Trogon, Belize

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

 

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63 thoughts on “Trogons

  1. Seeing the elegant trogon in personal was a special treat for me. A stunningly beautiful bird that I was lucky to see a couple years back while camped at Patagonia State Park in southern AZ.

    • I share your sentiment, Ingrid. Each trogon I have seen was a personal and special treat. I am delighted you have a joyful memory of the elegant trogon. Thanks so much for your comment.

    • They are eye-stoppers, SWI, so true. And they’re not very common and difficult to spot, so finding one is an enormous treat. So glad you enjoyed it, my friend~~

    • You got it, Craig. Bird species have a variety of different feet, but there is no other bird or animal in this world who has feet like the trogon. I find it interesting too, and am glad to have shared this tidbit with you.

  2. Oh no! Now you’ve given me another bird to be chasing or hunting! They certainly are spectacular. Perhaps a visit to AZ has been added to the bucket list!

    • Yes, you’ll have to venture to AZ now Gunta! I know you don’t like the tropics but I think you’d be fine going to some of the different AZ mtn ranges to find the beautiful elegant trogon, where it is not super hot at certain times of the year. That’s a fun thing to think about. Have a great week~~

    • Hi Talain. Yes, they are so very beautiful, and a joy to watch. They do like the warm weather, however, so yes, they’re not in most of the northern hemisphere. If you’re ever in Arizona or Mexico…. Thanks so much for your comment today.

    • I think you would like the trogons, Val, and it makes me smile that you’ve adapted to them quickly. I consider them grounded, because they live in the trees, move rather slowly, and all movements are deliberate.

    • It was really fun to write this up, because the accompanying photos were so awesome. I’m very glad you enjoyed it, Bill, and I appreciate your comment.

  3. Resplendent, elegant, really quite wonderful! Trogon, as a word, rather undersells their magnificence… Great post, and a lovely start to the working week – thanks, Jet!

    • They are really stunning colors, I’m glad you think so, Lloyd. The reds especially are so rich, and the other colors equally as dazzling. Many thanks!

  4. Thank you for introducing the most beautiful bird species we have on this planet, Jet! Stunningly beautiful. Such a treat to see these photos. 🙂

  5. How nice that you and Athena have seen so many different trogon species :-)! Thank you for sharing the lovely photographs and information. I’ve only seen them in photos; their beauty is captivating! And I like that they have a special toe arrangement.

    • I feel really lucky that Athena and I have seen so many different trogon species in the world, and she’s captured so many great photos. I didn’t know about the special toe arrangement until I researched for this post, so that was a fun plus. I appreciate your visit and comments, Myriam — thank you~

  6. Dazzling, indeed! And interesting about their toes. That feature must work well to help them balance on precarious branches. Thank you.

    • Yes, interesting about the toes. And you’re right Nan, helps them balance on precarious branches, since they spend their whole life there. I’m happy you enjoyed the trogons today, dear Nan.

  7. No doubt about their beauty, especially the quetzal which was a sacred bird in ancient times for Central America’s people. Great post my friend, thank you! 🙂

  8. They are absolutely beautiful! I have never seen this bird “live”. Thank you for sharing this wonderful creature through great pictures and information, Jet.

    • Maybe we should change the word from “trogon” to “glaser” or something similar. Lol. Thank you, Mike, I am glad you enjoyed the pretty bird post. 😉

    • Your birding knowledge shines through in this comment, Donna. Trogons are not easy to find and not everywhere in this world. But oh, what a treat when you do. I’m happy you enjoyed the post.

  9. I will never forget this wonderful species of bird for two very good reasons,dear Jet.Their name is so characteristic and apt while the “fauve” colours of their plumage are so intense and vibrant!Athena’s photos are beyond excellent,and you were so lucky you spotted them.Stunned by the patterns of their plumage,my friend.Sending you sunshine & smiles 🙂 (+/+)

    • Greetings dear Doda! Thanks so much for your visit today, I am delighted the trogons resonated with you. They are such a special species, and widely unknown, so I am especially glad to have introduced them to you. Thank you for the smiles today, I am smiling broadly as I type…. [*~~*]

  10. Didn’t know that about trogon toes! I’m sure ice seen trogons while visiting in Central America, but I wasn’t into birds then. Next time, I will be looking! Another great post, Jet. Such experience have you.

    • Truthfully, I, too, didn’t know about the trogon toes until I researched for this post, Shannon. It’s their allure and beauty that always attracted me, but fun to know. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.

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