Trogonidae – Trogons

The word ‘trogon’ in Greek means ‘nibbling’, something these birds do to trees, making holes in them to use as their nests

These birds are celebrated for their brilliant plumage and the elegance of their appearance, which has captivated birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. The family is widespread and found in tropical regions from the Americas through Africa to Southeast Asia.

Trogons are medium-sized birds, typically ranging from 23 to 30 cm (9 to 12 inches) in length, characterized by a compact body, short neck, and rounded wings, which contribute to their distinctive silhouette. They possess remarkably soft plumage, a feature that, along with their vivid colors, helps to distinguish them from the avian world. Their feet are small and weak, an adaptation to their arboreal lifestyle, which involves less hopping or walking and more perching. The toes of trogons are unique among birds; they have three toes facing forward and one backward, a condition known as heterodactyly, which aids in grasping branches.

Sexual dimorphism is a pronounced trait within the Trogonidae family. In many species, males are adorned with more vibrant colors and patterns than females, especially during the breeding season when males use their plumage to attract mates. The females, however, tend to have more subdued coloration, providing them with better camouflage while nesting.

Trogons have a distinct and often enchanting vocalization. Their calls are typically loud and melodious, serving to communicate between individuals, particularly for establishing territories and during mating rituals. Quetzals, a subgroup of the trogon family, are known for their slightly more complex and varied calls.

In terms of nesting behavior, trogons are cavity nesters, often utilizing the abandoned holes created by other birds such as woodpeckers, or they may carve out cavities themselves in rotten trees. The selection of a suitable nesting site is crucial for the survival of their offspring, as these cavities provide protection from predators and the elements.