Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Elegant Trogons!

Hot Springs at Feliz Estancia
For many years I have heard about the beautiful but elusive (at least in Southern Arizona) Elegant Trogon. " This stunning bird is related to the Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), the bird of the Maya emperor-gods." A friend told me she had seen one in Madera Canyon south of Green Valley, Arizona, but nature had never graced me with this experience until we began to visit the hot springs at Feliz Estancia near the town of Aconchi, to the south of Banámichi.

I am not a bird-watcher in the sense of collecting species seen on a life-list, but I love watching animal behavior, so I do tend to notice birds. The first time I saw a Trogon flit by was several years ago during a visit to Feliz Estancia. I have had several glimpses of them since then, but only just glimpses.

This week we visited Feliz Estancia again. I noticed how now, when we go there, I always have a longing to get a really good view of the Trogon. After several hours in the lovely warm water, we were about to leave and noted to myself that once again the Trogon had been elusive. Just at that moment, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a flash of color which registered as a Trogon! Then there were 3 of them, two males and a female, right there in the tree in front of me.

Female Trogon showing me her back

Male Trogon rubbing his beak on a branch

Male Trogon giving me the stink eye from a stone wall

According to the Audubon Society description,  "The male Elegant Trogon has a metallic deep green head, upper breast and back, black face and throat, and red-orange lower breast and belly. He shows grey upper wing coverts. It has a stout yellow bill and a square tipped tail. "  They like to move along canyons and streams through sycamore woodland, and range from south-eastern Arizona to Costa Rica. According to they are about a foot long and weigh about 1/8th of a pound.

Notice how he can swivel his head almost 360 degrees!
I stalked them as silently as I could with a camera. I noticed how they could incredibly swivel their heads through nearly 360 degrees as they followed my progress. Each time I got too close for comfort (unfortunately this was also about as close as I needed to be for a really good picture!) they took off, flying  to another nearby tree...never too far, but very fast.
 Male Playing hide and seek
The Audubon society says that they like to nest in "sycamore tree cavities, abandoned woodpecker holes and earthen banks. They line the nest with straw and anything else that is soft. They lay two-four eggs." Feliz Estancia must be a perfect place for has a canyon, warm water, sycamore trees, woodpeckers and earthen banks.

Finally, I thought I had chased them far enough and we got in the car to leave. As we drove out, we saw them again, this time, the female and one male in a nearby tree while the second  male sat on the ground munching on a grasshopper...apparently their diet consists of insects and fruit, mostly caught on the fly, and it is fairly unusual for them to spend time on the ground.

Feeding on grasshopper...notice the iridescent green back

We headed home in a celebratory mood. What a great experience and treat to have finally seen not just one, but 3 Trogons playing together in the woodland! Banámichi and the Rio Sonora continue to find ways to delight me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That is so neat! I feel your enthusiasm and I see the beauty of those birds! Wow! I was noticing birds myself today as I watched them pull worms from the ground that was soaked with water. There is something so great in watching a bird, isn't there? Anyway, I am catching up on blog reading. I have been bad at it for months. Great to hear your narrative voice!