1 minute read

Trogons: Trogoniformes

Physical Characteristics

Trogons (TROH-gahnz) are medium-sized, compact, brightly plumaged (feathered) birds that live mostly in trees; possess thin, delicate skin; soft and dense plumage; short necks; short, heavy, broad-hooked bills; short, rounded wings; long, broadly squared tails; and small, weak legs and feet. They are 9 to 16 inches (23 to 41 centimeters) long (excluding the tail streamer, the central part of the tail that is extra-long) and weigh between 1.2 and 7.3 ounces (35 and 210 grams).

Broad bills and weak legs are due to the trogon diet and arboreal (tree living) habits. In some species, bills are not curved but have serrated (saw blade-like) cutting edges. Trogon feet are described as heterodactyl (het-ur-oh-DAK-tuhl), with the first and second inner front toes turned backward and the third and fourth toes turned forward. This unusual toe arrangement allows them to cling vertically to trees. Their weak feet are unable to turn without the help of their wings.

Adult males are among the most brilliantly colored of all tropical birds. Their plumage is a brilliant green with some yellow, blue, or violet on the upper body, head, breast, and back; and yellow, orange, pink, or carmine (deep red) on the belly. Since trogon skin is delicate, feathers are easily lost. Central tails are long and broad, and hide three outer feathers usually with black or white bars; the outer feathers can be twice the length of inner tails. Females are duller in appearance, with browns and grays replacing the blues and greens of males. Female under parts, however, are often as brightly colored as those of males. Many trogons have distinctive bar-like or wavy wing sections, colored white-on-black in males and buff-on-black in females. Juveniles are irregularly brown patched with white and buff spots.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsTrogons: Trogoniformes - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Orange-breasted Trogon (harpactes Oreskios): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, TROGONS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS