Birds of the World

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ANECDOTES

  Trogons
 
 
 

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Coraciae: Trogoniformes - Trogons
 
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Coraciae
Bucerotiformes - Hornbills, Ground Hornbills
Upupiformes - Hoopoes, Wood Hoopoes, Scimitar-bills
Trogoniformes - Trogons
Coraciiformes -
   Rollers, Ground-Rollers, Cuckoo-Rollers
   Motmots, Todies, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters
Galbuliformes - Jacamars, Puffbirds
 
Images:   
Great Hornbill, Eurasian Hoopoe, Narina Trogon, Quetzal, Collared Trogon,
Violaceous Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Indian Roller, Tody, Laughing Kookaburra,
White-throated Kingfisher
, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, European Bee-eater,
Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Puffbird
 
  Order Trogoniformes - Trogons
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  Trogons and quetzals are found in tropical forests worldwide. They have weak legs and broad bills and feed on insects and fruit. They have soft, colorful feathers and are sexually dimorphic. They nest in tree cavities which they excavate.
 
  Family Trogonidae - Trogons
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  39 (40) species, 6 genera. Pan-tropical (Central and South America, Africa, southeast Asia).
   Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) divide the family into two subfamilies:
     Subfamily Apaloderminae - African Trogons
     Subfamily Trogoninae
      Tribe Trogonini - New World Trogons
      Tribe Harpactini - Asian Trogons
 
   Recent studies suggest that the quetzals (Euptilotis, Pharomachrus) form a sister group to the trogons (Wiki) so this might constitute a more reasonable grouping.

   Trogons are medium-sized birds with a small, rounded head and a short neck. They have soft, colorful feathers and are sexually dimorphic.  Upperparts of American and African species are metallic green but in most Asian species, the upperparts are brown. They have a long, graduated tail that is usually black and white. Females are brownish and lack metallic colors. Quetzals have modified wing and tail coverts - the uppertail coverts can be as long as 3 feet.
   The bill is short and broad with a curved, notched maxilla with a slight hook at the tip. The maxillary tomium (edge) is usually serrate. The color of the bill varies from black to yellow to red. They have a wide gape (especially in the frugivorous quetzals). Their tongue is short and triangular or long with a bifurcate tip (Priotelus). They have relatively large eyes. Their palate is schizognathous with a large vomer. They have holorhinal, impervious nostrils. Trogons have short tarsi and unique heterodactyl feet (digits 1 and 2 are directed backward, 3 and 4 directed forward and fused for their basal half). They are essentially unable to walk but may shuffle along a branch. They use their wings if turning on a branch.
   Only the left carotid artery is functional. Pelvic muscles are AX. Their wing is short and rounded, eutaxic, with 10 primaries and 11-12 secondaries. Their flight muscles are well developed but they seldom fly great distances. Their flight can be quite silent. Their tail is moderately long and they have 12 rectrices. Their skin is thin and delicate and the plumage becomes easily detached (the preparation of study skins or museum mounts is particularly difficult). Feathers have a large aftershaft. The oil gland is naked and indistinctly bilobed. The syrinx is tracheo-bronchial.
   Trogons are inconspicuous birds that sit quietly for long periods. They are able to rotate their head through 180° like owls. They are usually located by their loud voices - "coos" or "whistles." They often cock their tail while calling.
   They are found in habitats ranging from tropical rain forest to montane forests - often at mid-levels. Some are found in arid forests - the Elegant Trogon, Trogon elegans, breeds as far north as the canyons in southern Arizona. They feed by flycatching or hover-gleaning. They feed on insects (particularly caterpillars) and fruits. Quetzals favor avocados, eating the whole fruit and regurgitating the seeds. Most species are resident but several become somewhat nomadic outside the breeding season and the Elegant Trogon vacates more northern habitats in winter.
   Trogons are territorial and monogamous. Both parents share duties attending reproduction. They nest in tree cavities (sometimes using old woodpecker holes or termite nests). They lay 2-4 white eggs and incubate them for 16-19 days (the male Resplendent Quetzal, Pharomachus moccino, may incubate with his tail protruding out the nest hole). Young hatch synchronously. They are naked at hatching (gymnopaedic) and fledge in 15-20 days. They continue to be fed for several weeks after leaving the nest.
   Quetzals are the object of a thriving ecotourism industry in Central America.
 
  Illustrations from Brehms Tierleben, 1892
 

Trogon

Narina Trogon, Apaloderma narina

Quetzal  
    Quetzal, Pharomachrus sp (Resplendent Quetzal, P. mocinno?)  
     
  Photos by Ed Konrad    
  Collared Trogon Amazon Violaceous Trogon Amazonian White-tailed Trogon
  Collared Trogon
Trogon collaris
Gilpin Trace, Tobago
Wiki     EoL
Violaceous Trogon
Trogon violaceus,
Blanchisseuse Road, Trinidad
Wiki     EoL
White-tailed Trogon,
Trogon comptus
Blanchisseuse Road, Trinidad
Wiki     EoL
   
The taxonomy of this species appears to be in flux with northern forms split as the Gartered Trogon, Trogon caligatus. Stay tuned.
 
       
 

 

   
     
  Banner - Quetzal (woodcut). Brehm's Tierleben. 1892.