Mountain trogon

Last updated

Mountain trogon
Mountain Trogon (Trogon mexicanus) (8079378444).jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Trogoniformes
Family: Trogonidae
Genus: Trogon
T. mexicanus
Binomial name
Trogon mexicanus
Swainson, 1827

Trogon glocitansLichtenstein, 1830 [2]
Trogon morganiGould, 1838 [2]
Trogonurus mexicanusBonaparte, 1854 [2]


The mountain trogon (Trogon mexicanus), also known as the Mexican trogon, is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae. First described by William John Swainson in 1827, it is resident in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico and has occurred in El Salvador as a vagrant. Like all trogons, the mountain trogon is sexually dimorphic. The male is metallic green on the crown, nape, upperparts and chest, the latter separated from its bright red belly and vent by a narrow band of white. The female is warm brown on the head, upperparts and chest, separated from its paler brown lower chest and red belly and vent by a narrow white band.

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

Bird Warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrates with wings, feathers and beaks

Birds, also known as Aves or avian dinosaurs, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the world's most numerically-successful class of tetrapods, with approximately ten thousand living species, more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Its natural habitat is subtropical and tropical moist montane forests. It prefers pine-evergreen and pine-oak woodland between 3,000 and 10,000 ft (914 and 3,048 m) in elevation. Unlike some rarer trogons, this species shows some adaptability to human land use and has utilized coffee plantations with suitable shade trees like oaks. [3]

Habitat ecological or environmental area inhabited by a particular species; natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds a species population

In ecology, a habitat is the type of natural environment in which a particular species of organism lives. It is characterized by both physical and biological features. A species' habitat is those places where it can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction.

Pine genus of plants

A pine is any conifer in the genus Pinus of the family Pinaceae. Pinus is the sole genus in the subfamily Pinoideae. The Plant List compiled by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden accepts 126 species names of pines as current, together with 35 unresolved species and many more synonyms.

Oak genus of plants

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately 600 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" also appears in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus, as well as in those of unrelated species such as Grevillea robusta and the Casuarinaceae (she-oaks). The genus Quercus is native to the Northern Hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cool temperate to tropical latitudes in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. North America contains the largest number of oak species, with approximately 90 occurring in the United States, while Mexico has 160 species of which 109 are endemic. The second greatest center of oak diversity is China, which contains approximately 100 species.


When he first described the mountain trogon in 1827 from a specimen collected in Temascáltepec, Mexico, William John Swainson gave the species its current scientific name. [4] Most ornithologists have agreed with this assignment, though Charles Lucien Bonaparte assigned it to the genus Trogonurus, and several other ornithologists described it again later under other names. [2] It has three subspecies: [5]

Temascaltepec is a city and seat of the municipality of Temascaltepec located in south of the State of Mexico in Mexico. It is 66 km (41 mi) southeast of Toluca and 140 km (87 mi), from Mexico City. Temascaltepec comes from the Náhuatl "temazcalli," which means "steam bath," and "tepetl," which means "hill." The Matlatzincas named the area "Cocalostoc," which means 'cave of crows'.

Charles Lucien Bonaparte French biologist

Charles Lucien Jules Laurent Bonaparte, 2nd Prince of Canino and Musignano, was a French biologist and ornithologist. Lucien and his wife had twelve children, including Cardinal Lucien Bonaparte.

Ludlow Griscom was an American ornithologist known as a pioneer in field ornithology. His emphasis on the identification of free-flying birds by field marks became widely adopted by professionals and amateurs. Many called him "Dean of the Birdwatchers."

DNA studies have shown that the mountain trogon is part of the "Elegant" sub-clade of the genus Trogon—along with the elegant trogon, the collared trogon, the black-throated trogon and the masked trogon—but have not revealed which species are its closest relatives. [6]

DNA Molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known organisms and many viruses

Deoxyribonucleic acid is a molecule composed of two chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids; alongside proteins, lipids and complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), nucleic acids are one of the four major types of macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life.

Elegant trogon species of bird

The elegant trogon is a near passerine bird in the trogon family. Along with the eared quetzal, it is the most poleward-occurring species of trogon in the world, ranging from Guatemala in the south as far north as the upper Gila River in Arizona and New Mexico. The most northerly populations of subspecies ambiguus are partially migratory, and the species is occasionally found as a vagrant in southeasternmost and western Texas.

Collared trogon species of bird

The collared trogon is a near passerine bird in the trogon family, Trogonidae. It is found in the warmer parts of the Neotropics and includes numerous subspecies, including T. c. exoptatus from northern Colombia, northern Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. The subspecies T. c. aurantiiventris is recognized by many authorities as a separate species: the orange-bellied trogon.

The genus name Trogon is a Greek word meaning "grawing" or "nibbling". [7] This may be a reference to the way trogons gnaw into rotting trees to make their nest holes. [8] The species name mexicanus means "Mexico", a reference to where the first specimen was collected. [9]

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

In zoological nomenclature, the specific name is the second part within the scientific name of a species. The first part of the name of a species is the name of the genus or the generic name. The rules and regulations governing the giving of a new species name are explained in the article species description.


The mountain trogon measures 11.5–12.5 in(29–31.5 cm) in length. [10] It weighs between 61.5 and 85 g (2.2 and 3.0 oz), with a mean of 71 g (2.5 oz). [11] Like all trogons, it is sexually dimorphic. [12] The adult male is green on the crown, nape and upperparts; the upper side of its tail is bluish-green, with black tips to the rectrices. His face and throat are blackish, with an orange-red orbital ring and a bright yellow bill. He is green on the chest and red on the belly and undertail; the two colors are separated by a narrow band of white. The underside of his tail is black with three large white blocks created by white tips to the outer rectrices. His primaries are blackish, with black and white vermiculations on the wing coverts. [10] The female is warm brown on her head and upperparts; her tail is rufous-brown on the upperside, with black tips to the rectrices. She has a small white crescent in front of her eye and a bold white crescent behind her eye. Her bill is dark above. Her chest is warm brown, separated from her brown lower chest and red belly by a narrow band of white. Her undertail is black and white; the outer webs of the rectrices are barred black and white, while the inner webs are black, broadly tipped with white. Her primaries are blackish with white outer webs, which form white streaks along her folded wing. Her wing coverts are pale brown, with dusky vermiculations. [10]

The female is less colorful than the male. Mountain Trogon fem - Mexico S4E0747 (16120203108).jpg
The female is less colorful than the male.

Similar species

There are several species with which the mountain trogon might be confused; they differ primarily in the color and patterning on their tails. The male elegant trogon's tail is copper-colored (rather than green) above and finely vermiculated black and white (rather than all black) below, while the female has a white patch behind and below her eye. The male collared trogon is golden-green on the back and uppertail, and its undertail is black with narrow white barring. The female collared trogon's tail is grayish below with a narrow dark bar at the tip of each rectrice. [13]

Range and habitat

The mountain trogon is found in the highlands of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. [14] Although it was formerly recorded as a resident in El Salvador, the area where it was found was ceded to Honduras in 1992 and it now occurs in El Salvador only as a vagrant. [3] It also occurs in Nicaragua, though the origin of these birds is uncertain. [1] The ornithological collection at Vassar College contains a mountain trogon that was purportedly shot in Texas, [15] but the species is not on the list of accepted North American birds. [16]

Found at elevations ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 ft (910 to 3,050 m), [17] the mountain trogon prefers pine or pine-oak woodlands and cloud forest. [14]


The mountain trogon may associate with mixed species flocks. [10] It joins such flocks sporadically and in small numbers, but is an active member of the flock, moving in the upper and middle levels of the forest, when it is present. [18]

Food and feeding

The mountain trogon eats insects and small fruits, which it catches or plucks while on the wing. [17]


Like all trogons, the mountain trogon is a cavity nester. [17] It is both a primary and secondary cavity nester, meaning that it both excavates its own nest cavities, and uses those cavities already excavated by another species. [19] [20] When it excavates its own nest, it uses its beak to gnaw a hole in rotting wood, either in a decaying stump or branch. [17] The cavity is typically less than 4 ft (1.2 m) off the ground, but occasionally as high as 12 ft (3.7 m). [17] When it uses a cavity made by another species, it typically uses those made by large woodpeckers. [20] The female lays two white eggs, which both parents incubate, though the female does far longer stints than the male. The eggs hatch after 19 days. [17]


The mountain trogon has several vocalizations. If alarmed, it gives a sharp, low-pitched call variously transcribed as "cut" or "tuck". In flight, it gives a quick, low-pitched call transcribed as "cut-a-cut-cut". When perched, it makes a slow, repetitive "cowh" or a "tucka-tucka-tucka". [14] Young mountain trogons make quiet hissing calls when food begging, and when approached by potential predators. [21]

Conservation and threats

Because of its large range and large population, estimated to number between 50,000 and 499,999 individuals, the mountain trogon is rated as a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Its population appears to be stable. [1]

Related Research Articles

Trogon family of birds

The trogons and quetzals are birds in the order Trogoniformes which contains only one family, the Trogonidae. The family contains 39 species in seven genera. The fossil record of the trogons dates back 49 million years to the Early Eocene. They might constitute a member of the basal radiation of the order Coraciiformes or be closely related to mousebirds and owls. The word trogon is Greek for "nibbling" and refers to the fact that these birds gnaw holes in trees to make their nests.

Guianan trogon species of bird

The Guianan trogon, is a near passerine bird in the trogon family, Trogonidae. It is found in humid forests in the Amazon basin of South America and on the island of Trinidad. Until recently, this species, the gartered trogon of Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, and the Amazonian trogon of the western Amazon were all considered to be conspecific and collectively called violaceous trogon.

Collared aracari species of bird

The collared aracari or collared araçari is a toucan, a near-passerine bird. It breeds from southern Mexico to Panama; also Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica.

Black phoebe species of bird in the tyrant-flycatcher family

The black phoebe is a passerine bird in the tyrant-flycatcher family. It breeds from southwest Oregon and California south through Central and South America. It occurs year-round throughout most of its range and migrates less than the other birds in its genus, though its northern populations are partially migratory. Six subspecies are commonly recognized, although two are occasionally combined as a separate species, the white-winged phoebe.

Black-throated trogon species of bird

The black-throated trogon, also known as yellow-bellied trogon, is a near passerine bird in the trogon family, Trogonidae. Although it is also called "yellow-bellied trogon" it is not the only trogon with a yellow belly. It breeds in lowlands from Honduras south to western Ecuador and northern Argentina.

<i>Trogon</i> (genus) genus of birds

Trogon is a genus of near passerine birds in the trogon family. Its members occur in forests and woodlands of the Americas, ranging from southeastern Arizona to northern Argentina.

Narina trogon species of bird

The Narina trogon is a largely green and red, medium-sized, bird of the family Trogonidae. It is native to forests and woodlands of the Afrotropics. Though it is the most widespread and catholic in habitat choice of the three Apaloderma species, their numbers are locally depleted due to deforestation. Some populations are sedentary while others undertake regular movements. The species name commemorates Narina, mistress of French ornithologist François Levaillant, whose name he derived from a Khoikhoi word for "flower", as her given name was difficult to pronounce.

Spot-crowned woodcreeper species of bird

The spot-crowned woodcreeper, is a passerine bird which breeds in the tropical New World from central Mexico in the east, the Sierra Madre Orientals, to northern Panama.

Eared quetzal species of bird

The eared quetzal, also known as the eared trogon, is a near passerine bird in the trogon family, Trogonidae. It breeds in streamside pine-oak forests and canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico south to western Michoacán. It is sometimes seen as a vagrant to southeasternmost Arizona in the United States and has bred there. This range includes part of the Madrean Sky Islands region of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Sonora.

Hooded mannikin species of bird

The hooded mannikin or hooded munia, also known as the New Britain mannikin or Sclater's mannikin is a species of estrildid finch found in New Britain and New Guinea.

Thicket tinamou species of bird

The thicket tinamou or rufescent tinamou is a type of tinamou commonly found in moist forests in subtropical and tropical central Mexico.

White-tipped quetzal species of bird

The white-tipped quetzal is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae found in Venezuela, Colombia, and Guyana. Two subspecies have been described. Pharomachrus fulgidus fulgidus is found in the mountains of northern Venezuela and Pharomachrus fulgidus festatus ranges through the Santa Marta mountains of northeast Colombia. Quetzals are iridescent and colourful birds found in forests, woodlands and humid highlands. The white-tipped quetzal has been a limited subject of research. Pharomachrus nests have been studied to analyse the effects of rainfall on breeding, however conclusions are based on single observations. On the IUCN Red list of threatened species, the white-tipped quetzal is listed as a species of Least concern.

Hispaniolan trogon species of bird

The Hispaniolan trogon is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae. It is the national bird of Haiti. It is endemic to the shared island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. It is one of the only two trogon species found only on the Caribbean islands. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and what is now heavily degraded forest. It is threatened by habitat loss. It is mostly confined to a few remaining protected areas.

Citreoline trogon species of bird

The citreoline trogon is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae. It is endemic to western Mexico, with an estimated distribution size of 539,000 km2 Due to this very large range, the IUCN consider it a species of Least Concern and that the current population trend is stable. T. citreolus has also been studied as an Ecosystem engineer.

Black-headed trogon species of bird

The black-headed trogon is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae. It is found in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, and heavily degraded former forest.

Masked trogon species of bird

The masked trogon is a species of bird in the family Trogonidae. It is fairly common in humid highland forests in South America, mainly the Andes and tepuis.

Green-backed trogon species of bird

The green-backed trogon, also known as the Amazonian white-tailed trogon, is a near passerine bird in the trogon family. It is found in tropical humid forests in South America, where its range includes the Amazon, the Guiana Shield, Trinidad, and the Atlantic Forest in eastern Brazil. It formerly included T. chionurus of the Chocó region as a subspecies, but under the common name white-tailed trogon.

Rufous-naped wood rail species of bird

The rufous-naped wood rail or russet-naped wood rail is a species of bird in the family Rallidae. It lives primarily in forests and mangroves of Central America.


  1. 1 2 3 BirdLife International (2012). "Trogon mexicanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Ridgway, Robert (1911). "The Birds of North and Middle America". Bulletin of the United States National Museum. 50 (5): 765–767.
  3. 1 2 Herrera, Néstor; Rivera, Roberto; Ibarra Portillo, Ricardo; Rodríguez, Wilfredo (2006). "Nuevos registros para la avifauna de El Salvador" (PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología (in Spanish). 16 (2): 1–19.
  4. "Mountain Trogon Trogon mexicanus". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "ITIS Report: Trogon mexicanus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System . Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  6. Espinosa de los Monteros, Alejandro (October 1998). "Phylogenetic Relationship Among the Trogons" (PDF). The Auk. 115 (4): 937–954. JSTOR   4089512.
  7. Jobling (2010), p. 391.
  8. Carnaby, Trevor (2008). Beat About the Bush: Birds. Johannesburg, South Africa: Jacana Media. p. 74. ISBN   978-1-77009-241-9.
  9. Jobling (2010), p. 252.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Howell, Steve N. G.; Webb, Sophie (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 433. ISBN   978-0-19-854012-0.
  11. Dunning Jr., John B. (2008). CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL, US: CRC Press. p. 209. ISBN   1420064452.
  12. Harris, Tim, ed. (2009). National Geographic Complete Birds of the World. Washington, DC, US: National Geographic Society. p. 159. ISBN   978-1-4262-0403-6.
  13. Edwards, Ernest Preston (1998). A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Adjacent Areas: Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Austin, TX, US: University of Texas Press. pp. 82–83.
  14. 1 2 3 Peterson, Roger Tory; Chalif, Edward L. (1973). A Field Guide to Mexican Birds: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador. New York, NY, US: Houghton Mifflin. p. 110. ISBN   978-0-395-97514-5.
  15. Orton, James (February 1871). "Notes on Some Birds in the Museum of Vassar College". The American Naturalist. 4 (12): 711–717. doi:10.1086/270681. JSTOR   2447029. (Registration required (help)).Cite uses deprecated parameter |registration= (help)
  16. "ABA Checklist Update" (PDF). American Birding Association. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Skutch, Alexander F. (July 1942). "Life History of the Mexican trogon" (PDF). The Auk. 59 (3): 341–363. JSTOR   4079204.
  18. Short Jr., Lester L. (December 1961). "Interspecies Flocking of Birds of Montane Forest in Oaxaca, Mexico" (PDF). The Wilson Bulletin. 73 (4): 341–347. JSTOR   4158970.
  19. Brightsmith, Donald J. (January 2005). "Competition, Predation and Nest Niche Shifts among Tropical Cavity Nesters: Phylogeny and Natural History Evolution of Parrots (Psittaciformes) and Trogons (Trogoniformes)". Journal of Avian Biology. 36 (1): 64–73. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2005.03310.x. JSTOR   3677542.
  20. 1 2 Webster, Fred; Webster, Marie S. (2001). The Road to El Cielo: Mexico's Forest in the Clouds. Austin, TX, US: University of Texas Press. ISBN   978-0-292-76288-6.
  21. González-Rojas, José I.; Cruz-Nieto, Javier; Ruvalcaba-Ortega, Irene; Cruz-Nieto, Miguel A. (March 2008). "Breeding Biology of Eared Quetzals in the Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico". Journal of Field Ornithology. 79 (1): 20–23. doi:10.1111/j.1557-9263.2008.00141.x. JSTOR   27715232.

Cited works