Saturday, July 27, 2013


Elegant Trogon
Birders say that when one eventually finds their nemesis bird, the former nemesis will appear everywhere after that day.  For a year and a half, I chased this bird. I would dip and become frustrated every single time. If it's one bird I understand the most, it's the Trogon.  I suppose this summer has been much about Trogons as last summer was about Hummingbirds. 
Elegant Trogon nesting
The secret?  Getting up at the crack of dawn.......and listening.   It is very important to listen carefully for the various dog barking calls around canyon areas. And the other thing?  Do not let people know you are searching for the bird because it will screw up the sighting every single time. My experience with people and trogons has not been a good one.  People are too loud and do not listen. Yet they all want to see these colorful birds.  I had an experience in Patagonia this winter that made me want to cry.  Everyone was on the trail looking for the bird and before I knew it, a group attached themselves to me and I lost the bird.  Partners are okay.  People you don't know....not okay....keep it secret.
And my studies would pay off. My summer trek into Guatemala led me to more of the Trogons. Their calls are all variations of a theme except maybe the Resplendent Quetzal.
Slaty-tailed Trogon
In the darkness of Tikal National Park, I saw several of the Slaty-tailed Trogons calling.  We were alone until some loud and obnoxious tourists decided to rudely make their own bird calls.  One was a woman who just began laughing and shouting up random calls to the Trogon pair.  They flew off and I shook my head as I glared at her.  However, we had nice observations of these birds for 25 minutes prior to the first wave of tourists entering the park. I always opt out on the tour groups if I can. What attracted me to the dark leaves?  Their calls.  One must respect the privacy of the Trogon.  If you pay that respect, they will not leave you.
Black-headed Trogon
During our visit to Río Dulce in the pastures along rain forest area(away from people), I heard another Trogon-like call. This time I dealt with camera issues.....humidity on my lens!!!  The first time I saw the Black-headed Trogon, it flew above my head. My heart pounded and I missed the shot.  I followed the call until the bird had retreated too far into the forest.  So I went back the next day and continued to deal with humidity and rain.  But I heard the call again and found the bird.  We had a moment here and it was incredible!
The next bird below is the Gartered Trogon. I was sitting in my cabin outside of Antigua near an avocado farm when this bird silently flew in front of my window.  My heart beat quickly!  A Trogon!!!  This time the bird wasn't making any calls, but it quickly saw me and flew.  Luckily I had my camera ready and got this not so great shot through the window. For many years, this bird was considered a subspecies of the Violaceous Trogon, but they have since separated the species. This bird now goes by the Gartered Trogon name.  Plus their heads have a different shade of blue and their calls are different. The Gartered also has a greener back.  Hence the separation.  When I returned back to the office where we were staying, I told them about the sighting and they were shocked at the find!
Gartered Trogon
And dirt!  That post is coming up on Birding is Fun!  on August 1st.  The lesson for me? Searching for the Elegant Trogon at home helped me track these birds down better.  With practice, time and patience, even the rarest bird can be found.  Now if those Montezuma Quail would just make an appearance:)  More soon.....

Resplendent Quetzal


  1. Wow, cool sighting of the awesome Trogons. It can be upsetting when someone has to spoil your moment with a great bird. I think it has probably happened to all of us "birders". Great post and wonderful photo, Chris! Happy birding!

  2. really beautiful and exotic looking!

  3. They are gorgeous! Congratulations!

  4. It must be amazing to see that red belly go flying by! Congratulations on your finds.

  5. Dam noisy tourons. Glad you get up and out before at least some of them. These are all spectacular.

  6. Those Trogons are ultra-special, Chris! Great images, which must have been difficult to achieve in the demanding light conditions - not to mention the problems of humidity!

    Tourist can be a pain in my experience too, which is why I'm very careful in where I go at the weekend.

    All the best - Richard.

  7. Wonderful, wonderful birds Chris. So glad all your homework paid off :) You sound as though you have been having the most marvellous adventures :)

    Hope you enjoyed your moth/bug hunt the other day!!!

  8. I' m not nearly as professional as you Chris but even I get really annoyed when I'm trying to get a shot and someone nearby calls out or makes a noise :) Super shots of this colourful bird.

  9. Well--I used to call you the Hummingbird King... Then it was the Owl King. And NOW--it's the Trogon King... Congrats...

    Too bad that PEOPLE spoiled your search... Gads---what's up with obnoxious people!!!????

    Hope you have a great Sunday.

  10. Great selection of Trogons there Chris, we failed with the Quetzal in Costa Rica earlier this year :-(

  11. Chris you gave all birders extremely valuable advice. "Don't go bird watching in gangs" - it just doesn't work. Much better to do your own thing and really learn how to do it yourself. Well done with finding the trogons.

  12. Piękne ptaki, a ostatni z bardzo długim ogonem jest niesamowity. Przykro mi, że niektórzy ludzie nie rozumieją, że należy być cicho obserwując ptaki. Pozdrawiam.
    Beautiful birds, and the last with a very long tail is amazing. I'm sorry that some people do not understand that they should be quiet bird watching. Yours.

  13. the interesting places you are .. very nice birds .. they have such nice colors...

  14. I avoid tour groups like the plague when I travel. There's a village idiot in every group. I'm so glad you were able to see the Trogons. They sound like a Star Trek character. :)


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