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    Elegant Trogon Life History

    Habitat

    Habitat ForestsIn Arizona, Elegant Trogons are mostly found in forested mountain canyons, particularly among sycamores, pines, and oaks. They can also be found in juniper habitats and where cottonwood-oak, Douglas-fir, and mesquite cover is limited. Throughout its range, the Elegant Trogon lives in the widest variety of habitats of any trogon, ranging from sea level to about 6,200 feet in Guatemala. Trogons are found in four mountain ranges in Arizona, the Atascosas, the Santa Ritas, the Huachuchas, and the Chiricahuas. Within those mountains, trogons select canyons with sycamore trees in the riparian area, and pines and oaks in the watersheds. Nests of trogons are mainly found in sycamores, but can also occur in oaks.Back to top

    Food

    Food OmnivoreElegant Trogons are omnivorous, eating mainly insects and fruit. They eat a wide variety of insects, in particular grasshoppers and caterpillars, particularly in the breeding season. Other foods include cherries, grapes, figs, chokecherry, and buckthorn. Compared to the diet of birds that frequent the upper canopy, the Elegant Trogon's diet contains a large proportion of animal matter. Trogons, especially males, forage in oak trees and fruit-bearing plants as well as dead or dying trees. Both parents deliver insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, butterflies, leafhoppers, dragonflies, bees, and wasps to their young. Back to top

    Nesting

    Nest Placement

    Nest TreeElegant Trogons nest along streams in holes in either live or dead trees. They can’t excavate these cavities themselves, so they depend on holes that woodpeckers (often Northern Flickers or Acorn Woodpeckers) have made. Some nests are reused from year to year. Large sycamores can be used in consecutive years and generally more than one-fourth of nests are reused at some point.

    Nest Description

    The nests contain very little material, and eggs simply lie on the floor of the cavity.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:2-4 eggs
    Egg Length:1.1-1.2 in (2.7-3.1 cm)
    Egg Width:0.9-1.2 in (2.2-3.1 cm)
    Incubation Period:17-21 days
    Nestling Period:34-40 days
    Egg Description:Faint bluish white to dull white.
    Condition at Hatching:Naked, pink, and with their eyes closed.
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    Behavior

    Behavior FlycatchingElegant Trogons forage in the lower forest canopy (around 25 feet off the ground), where they sit motionless and scan neighboring branches, leaves, and trunks with almost imperceptible movements of their heads. When they spot something on a limb or in the air, they burst into flight to catch it by surprise. Males and females call to each other during foraging, courtship, incubation, and also while feeding nestlings. When advertising, males call loudly from a chosen perch, normally near the nest cavity. A displaying male approaches a female and begins flicking his tail and puffing out his crimson chest feathers. He follows the female from perch to perch while giving a low call. Males engage in threat displays where they puff out their breast and snap their bills, often during fights with other males. Little is known about the trogon mating system. They are monogamous and pairs stay together for at least a month after their young fledge. Female trogons must defend offspring from species such as Cooper's Hawks, Mexican Jays, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers. Trogon tend to live in areas that are also inhabited by Arizona Woodpecker, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. Back to top

    Conservation

    Conservation Restricted RangeThere is little information on Elegant Trogon population trends. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 200,000, with 6% spending some part of the year in the U.S. and 79% living in Mexico. The species rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Elegant Trogon is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. It is probable that Elegant Trogons will always be rare in southeastern Arizona. Their tendency to nest near human activity raises the question of how humans affect nest success, but studies so far have shown them to be relatively tolerant of this. Trogons are more likely to be affected by the destruction of riparian vegetation in the Southwest, which could reduce suitable nesting locations. A related issue is the drawdown of water tables in the region, which could harm the sycamore trees and riparian forests that trogons depend on.Back to top

    Credits

    Kunzmann, M. R., L. S. Hall and R. Roy Johnson. 1998. Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

    Partners in Flight. 2017. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

    Sibley, David Allen. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

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