Lazy Mondays: Trogonidae


Generally, a lazy bird is a dead bird, but some birds are less . .. energetic . . . than others. The Adélie Penguin, the last Bird of the Week, is always busy. By contrast, the Trogons, at least the Neotropical Trogons that WC has seen, are remarkably sedentary.

Masked Trogon, Ecuador, 2009

Masked Trogon, Ecuador, 2009

And remarkably beautiful. There are about 35 species of Trogons, most of them found in the New World. They are all colorful, and highly regarded by birders not just for the colors but because they hold their perches. You can get some very long views and photographs of Trogons.

Ecuadoran Trogon, Tandayapa, Ecuador, 2011

Ecuadoran Trogon, Tandayapa, Ecuador, 2011

Trogons feed mostly on insects and fruits. Like owls, they have adaptations that allow them to swivel their heads more than 180°, but unlike owls Trogons do so in slow motion, looking for bugs to hawk. Combined with the species’ dramatic eye rings, the effect can be comical.

Violaceous Trogon, Panama, 2010

Violaceous Trogon, Panama, 2010

WC has watched Trogon feeding on fermented berries become so intoxicated that they fell off their perches. Other berries contained toxins that seem to give the Trogons a serious buzz.

Orange-bellied Trogon, Panama, 2010

Orange-bellied Trogon, Panama, 2010

Trogons are unusual in another way: they are heterodactylous. They have two talons pointed backwards, unlike the usual one. Given their tendency to hold a perch for a long time, perhaps this is an adaptation to give them a better grip. They are unique in the backwards-pointing toes are the first and fourth.

Blue-headed Trogon, Pantanal, Brazil 2014

Blue-headed Trogon, Pantanal, Brazil 2014

Only one species of Trogon breeds in the United States, the Elegant Trogon, and the only in southern Arizona and New Mexico. Unfortunately, WC doesn’t have a decent photo of that species.

Slaty-tailed Trogon, Pantanal, Brazil 2014

Slaty-tailed Trogon, Pantanal, Brazil 2014

The most famous and photogenic member of the Trogon family is the Resplendant Quetzal, featured here a couple of weeks ago.

WC has been lucky enough to see fourteen of the New World’s twenty-four Trogon species, and photograph – not always well – eight of those fourteen. WC looks forward to seeing and photographing more.

In the meantime, here’s to Trogons, a lazy bird for a lazy Sunday.

 

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