Arizona's Most Famous Bird:

The Elegant Trogon

Description | Behavior | How to Find Them | Nests

Vocalizations | Eared Trogons | S.E. Arizona Home Page


 

Description

  • Elegant Trogons are about a foot long. Females are slightly bigger, bur males have slightly larger bills.
  • The male has an emerald green back and throat. Sometimes the glossy color has a golden bronze cast to it. The male trogon has a conspicuous bright red breast. It has a white breast band , an orange eye ring, gray wings, and copper or olive coloration on the tail. The beak is yellow.
  • The female is pink on the lower belly. She has a tear-drop marking beneath the eye and a white eye ring. Her body is light brown.
  • Trogons perch in an upright position, with their long tail hanging straight down. Perched trogons often look hump-backed.

Elegant Trogon

 

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Behavior

  • Trogons feed in the upper and outer canopy of trees. They flutter over the leaves, acrobatically plucking insects and fruits.

  • Trogons usually occur singly or in pairs. In August families are seen--males females and immatures, all feeding or perched in the same area.

  • Trogons often fly up and down the canyons.

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How to Find Trogons

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  • Trogons are found in lower canyons where there are sycamores.

  • Though they are bright colored, they often sit motionless, so birders sometimes walk right past them without seeing them.

  • The easiest way to find a trogon is to listen for its distinctive call.

  • In the Santa Ritas look in Madera Canyon.

  • In the Chiricahuas look on South Fork Road, in the South Fork Picnic area and on South Fork Trail. Also look along the paved road in Cave Creek Canyon anywhere from Stuart Campground to the Southwestern Research Station.

  • Though trogons begin to arrive in mid-April, some may not get to Arizona until June.

 

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Nests

  • Trogons nest in cavities, which have (for the most part) been created by Red-shafted Flickers. The majority of the trogon nests are in dead or dying sycamores. According to trogon expert, Rick Taylor, most nests are about 25 feet up in the tree.

  • Trogon eggs are oval and white. The month when the trogons incubate the eggs is usually June or early June.

  • The male and the female trogon take turns occupying the nest cavity and incubating the eggs. Usually the female stays with the eggs overnight.

  • The eggs hatch after about 20 days. Young birds are often seen in August. They are dappled with white, and when they first come off the nest, they do not have a long tail.

 

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Vocalizations

  • Oink, oink oink. This is given by the male to announce his territory and to advertise to females. Occasionally the female gives this call, too, but her version is lower in pitch and more hoarse.  Click here to hear a trogon.

  • Kwa, kwa, kwa. Given to challenge trespassers of any kind.

  • Kkkkkkk. An alarm call.. The bird may flick its tail up when giving this call.

  • Kuh, kuh, kuh, kuh. Sweet nothings uttered by paired birds that are in love.

 

 

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Eared Trogons

  • In many years an Eared Trogon or two will be seen in the mountains of southeastern Arizona.

  • When Eared Trogons are seen it is usually in late summer or fall.

  • Eared Trogons are usually seen farther up in the canyons than most birders tend to hike. They like the pine trees of the higher elevations.

  • The first U.S. record of Eared Trogon was in October, 1977.

  • The Eared Trogon had distinctive calls. One is a loud EEE-chuck. Another is kreee. These and other vocalizations sound in no way like an Elegant Trogon.

  • Eared trogons have a slate-colored bill and no eye ring. They do not have a white breast band. The wide tail has a bluish cast.

 

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