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Trogonidae – Trogons

Narina Trogon in South Africa: Photo by Yeray Seminario

Trogons are vibrant, colorful birds with distinctive broad bills and long tails, inhabiting tropical forests worldwide. They are known for their striking plumage, often featuring a mix of iridescent greens, blues, and reds. Nesting in tree cavities or termite mounds, trogons primarily feed on insects and fruit, which they catch with surprising agility. Despite their conspicuous appearance, they are often elusive and can be difficult to spot amidst dense foliage.

Overview of Trogonidae

These generalist foragers of tropical forests often reveal their presence only by their deep whistled or chuckled calls. Once spotted, trogons can be distinguished by their hunched shoulders and long tails, with underparts in bright yellow, red, or orange, and upperparts in iridescent dark green, blue, or matte cinnamon, making a feast for the eyes. Sexual dimorphism is most extreme in quetzals, where even the males, with their spectacularly long tail coverts, actively incubate and feed chicks in their tree-hole nests. Males sometimes loosely aggregate for days early in the breeding season, though the reason for this behavior remains unclear.