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            January 8, 2007

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Photo by Barnacle Bill of Barnacle Bill's Beach Bungalows  
Trogons are a small group with splendid plumage, worthy of symbolizing the exuberance of the tropics. Well represented in the Neotropics (especially in Central America), they also occur in Africa and the Oriental region, although in reduced diversity. Their appearance is distinctive, and their phylogenetic relationships are obscure. Almost half of the family is in the familiar genus Trogon. Trogons are either citrus-bellied (lemon or orange) or red-bellied. Males have much richer plumage, with shimmering greens and blues predominating, while females tend to be clothed in more somber tones. Undertail patterns typically differ between the sexes, and males use their flashier patterns in courtship.

Trogons are birds of the forest, ranging from humid lowlands to mountain cloud forests. Although splendidly colored, they are much easier to hear than to see. Their hollow hoots have a ventriloquial quality, and it can be very hard to locate a perched bird until it moves. Trogons live in pairs or solitarily, scanning the foliage for caterpillars and other largish arthropods, snatching these prey from leaves or limbs by hovering. At other times they fly-catch with short sallies, or visit fruiting trees. The bill is broad and surrounded by bristles. The neck is short and the eyes large (with eyelids and eyelashes); I suspect that large dark eyes help find food in the interior of dark woodlands.
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