Bird O'clock

10 Surprising Facts About the Stunning Black-tailed Trogon

The Black-tailed Trogon, Trogon melanurus, is a stunningly beautiful bird that belongs to the Trogonidae family. This species is found in Central and South America, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

In this article, we will explore the identification of the Black-tailed Trogon, including field identification and similar species. We will also discuss the bird’s plumages and molts.

Identification

Field

Identification:

The Black-tailed Trogon stands out with gorgeous plumage that is quite distinctive. This bird has a stunning metallic green upper body, with a golden-yellow belly and a vibrant red breast.

Its wings are black with striking white stripes and spots, which are visible when the bird is in flight. The Black-tailed Trogon’s bill is short, thick, and black, while its eyes are large and dark.

Similar Species:

The Black-tailed Trogon is similar to several other Trogon species, and it can be challenging to differentiate between them. The Slaty-tailed Trogon, Trogon massena, looks quite similar to the Black-tailed Trogon.

However, the Slaty-tailed Trogon sports a white belly, while the Black-tailed Trogon showcases a bright yellow belly. Another species that can be confused with the Black-tailed Trogon is the Violaceous Trogon, Trogon violaceus.

The Violaceous Trogon has a purple-blue upper body, while the Black-tailed Trogon’s upper body is metallic green.

Plumages

The Black-tailed Trogon has two plumages: male and female. Male:

The Black-tailed Trogon’s male has a metallic green upper body, with a golden-yellow belly and a vibrant red breast.

The male’s wings are black with striking white stripes and spots, which are visible when the bird is in flight. Female:

The Black-tailed Trogon’s female has a duller plumage than the male.

Its upper body is greyish-brown, while its belly is pale yellow. The female’s breast is pale, with a reddish tinge.

Molts

The Black-tailed Trogon undergoes one molt per year, which takes place between May and July. During this time, the bird replaces its feathers for new ones, which may be necessary for camouflage, insulation, or aerodynamics.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Black-tailed Trogon is a stunning bird species that can easily be identified based on its unique plumage. This bird is found in Central and South America and belongs to the Trogonidae family.

By learning about its field identification and similar species, it is possible to distinguish the Black-tailed Trogon from other Trogon species. Understanding its male and female plumages and molts offers further insight into this remarkable bird species.

Systematics History

The Black-tailed Trogon, Trogon melanurus, belongs to the Trogonidae family, which includes over 40 species of birds. The Trogonidae family is divided into two subfamilies, which include the Trogoninae and the Harpactinae.

The Black-tailed Trogon is part of the Trogoninae subfamily, which is further divided into several tribes, including the Trogonini, the Apalodermini, and the Harpactini.

Geographic Variation

The Black-tailed Trogon exhibits geographic variation, meaning that its physical characteristics vary depending on its location. As a result, different populations of the Black-tailed Trogon can look quite different from one another.

Subspecies

Currently, there are eight recognized subspecies of the Black-tailed Trogon, each found in a different geographic location. These subspecies include:

1.

T. m.

melanurus: Found in the Amazon Basin in Brazil and Peru, this subspecies has a metallic green upper body, a yellow belly, and a red breast. 2.

T. m.

canescens: Found in Venezuela and Colombia, this subspecies has a duller plumage, with a greyish-green upper body and a paler yellow belly. 3.

T. m.

petasatus: Found in Panama and Costa Rica, this subspecies has a metallic green upper body, a bright yellow belly, and a red breast. It also has a distinctive white patch on the sides of its head.

4. T.

m. braccatus: Found in western Ecuador and western Colombia, this subspecies has a metallic green upper body, a yellow belly, and a red breast.

It also has a white spot on its forehead. 5.

T. m.

pallidus: Found in eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru, this subspecies has a greyish-green upper body and a paler yellow belly. 6.

T. m.

caudatus: Found in southeastern Brazil, this subspecies has a metallic green upper body, a yellow belly, and a red breast. It also has a longer tail than other subspecies.

7. T.

m. chionurus: Found in Bolivia and western Brazil, this subspecies has a greyish-green upper body and a paler yellow belly.

It also has a white patch on its forehead and a longer tail than other subspecies. 8.

T. m.

peruanus: Found in central and southern Peru, this subspecies has a metallic green upper body, a yellow belly, and a red breast. It also has a longer tail than other subspecies.

Related Species

The Black-tailed Trogon is part of a larger group of birds within the Trogonidae family. Some of its closest relatives include the Elegant Trogon, Trogon elegans; the Masked Trogon, Trogon personatus; and the Gartered Trogon, Trogon caligatus.

These species share similar physical traits, such as their overall body shape and their short, thick bills.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Black-tailed Trogon’s distribution has remained relatively stable over time, but it has experienced some changes in the past. For example, during the last ice age, the Black-tailed Trogon’s habitat shifted southward, with populations retreating into the tropics.

As a result of climate change, the Black-tailed Trogon’s distribution may continue to be impacted in the future. If temperatures rise significantly, this could alter the bird’s habitat and food sources, potentially leading to changes in its behavior and migration patterns.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Black-tailed Trogon is a unique bird species that exhibits geographic variation and has several recognized subspecies. Its classification as part of the Trogonidae family places it among other species with similar physical characteristics, while its history of distribution reveals how it has adapted to changing environmental conditions over time.

By understanding the Black-tailed Trogon’s systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species, we can gain a deeper appreciation for this remarkable bird.

Habitat

The Black-tailed Trogon inhabits a variety of forested habitats, including lowland, foothill, and montane forests. It is commonly found in humid forests, typically in areas with a high density of trees.

This bird is also known to inhabit secondary forests, plantations, and forest edges. The Black-tailed Trogon prefers to forage and nest in areas with a dense canopy, which provides cover from predators and shelter from the sun.

Movements and Migration

The Black-tailed Trogon is a non-migratory species, meaning that it does not undertake long-distance seasonal migrations. However, it may undertake short-distance movements in response to changing environmental conditions.

For example, during periods of drought, the Black-tailed Trogon may move to areas with more suitable food and water sources. It may also move to different elevations depending on temperature and precipitation patterns.

Breeding and Nesting

The Black-tailed Trogon’s breeding season varies depending on its location. In Panama and Costa Rica, breeding occurs from February to August, while in Peru, it occurs from August to November.

The male Black-tailed Trogon establishes a breeding territory and attracts a mate through a series of courtship displays. Once paired, the male and female work together to build a nest, which is usually located in a tree cavity or in an epiphyte, such as a bromeliad.

The nest is constructed with small twigs and leaves, with a small entrance hole for the adult birds to enter and exit. After the female lays her eggs, both male and female take turns incubating them, which lasts for about 14 to 16 days.

Once the chicks hatch, both parents care for them by bringing food to the nest. The chicks fledge from the nest after about three weeks, and the parents continue to care for them for several more weeks.

Foraging and Diet

The Black-tailed Trogon is an insectivore, which means that it primarily feeds on insects. Its diet consists of a variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers.

It may also eat spiders, snails, and small lizards. The Black-tailed Trogon is a sit-and-wait predator, which means that it waits for its prey to come to it.

It perches on a high branch or epiphyte and watches the forest floor for prey. Once it spots prey, it flies down to capture it.

Conservation Status

The Black-tailed Trogon is listed as a species of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, its status may be impacted by habitat loss and fragmentation.

Deforestation and forest degradation are major threats to the Black-tailed Trogon’s habitat, particularly in lowland forests.

Habitat fragmentation may prevent populations from interbreeding or limit their ability to forage and find suitable nesting sites.

Climate change may also impact the Black-tailed Trogon by altering its habitat and food sources.

Conclusion

The Black-tailed Trogon is a unique bird species that inhabits a variety of forested habitats in Central and South America. While it is a non-migratory species, it may undertake short-distance movements in response to environmental conditions.

Its breeding and nesting habits are closely tied to its forest habitat, and it primarily feeds on insects as a sit-and-wait predator. Finally, while it is currently listed as a species of least concern, its population may be impacted by habitat degradation, fragmentation, and climate change in the future.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding:

The Black-tailed Trogon is a sit-and-wait predator, meaning that it perches on a high branch and waits for prey to pass by. Once it spots prey, it flies down to capture it.

The Black-tailed Trogon’s flight is swift and direct, allowing it to quickly catch prey. It is also capable of hovering in one spot in mid-air, which allows it to catch prey that may otherwise be difficult to capture.

Diet:

The Black-tailed Trogon primarily feeds on insects, particularly beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. However, it may also eat spiders, snails, and small lizards.

The Black-tailed Trogon’s diet is influenced by its habitat, as well as seasonal changes in prey availability. For example, during periods of heavy rainfall, insects may be more abundant, leading to an increase in the Black-tailed Trogon’s insect consumption.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

Like all birds, the Black-tailed Trogon has a high metabolic rate and a body temperature that is higher than that of mammals. Its high metabolic rate allows it to quickly process food, which is necessary for its sit-and-wait hunting strategy.

Additionally, the Black-tailed Trogon has several adaptations that help regulate its body temperature. These include a highly vascularized beak and legs, which allow it to dissipate heat, and a network of blood vessels in its nasal cavity, which helps it retain heat in cool temperatures.

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior

Vocalization:

The Black-tailed Trogon is known for its distinctive calls, which include a series of low-pitched “kok-kok” notes that are repeated several times. The calls of the Black-tailed Trogon are often heard during the breeding season, as males use their calls to establish territories and attract mates.

The female Black-tailed Trogon also produces a call, which is softer and more subdued than that of the male. In addition to its calls, the Black-tailed Trogon also produces a variety of other vocalizations, including chattering, scolding, and trilling sounds.

These vocalizations are used to communicate with other birds, warn of potential predators, and defend territory.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Black-tailed Trogon is a unique bird species that primarily feeds on insects and employs a sit-and-wait hunting strategy. Its diet varies depending on its habitat and seasonal changes in prey availability.

Additionally, the Black-tailed Trogon’s high metabolic rate and several adaptations help it regulate its body temperature. The Black-tailed Trogon is also known for its distinctive calls and vocalizations, which are an important aspect of its behavior and communication with other birds.

Behavior

Locomotion:

The Black-tailed Trogon is a skilled flyer that is capable of quick and agile movements. Its flight is swift and direct, allowing it to catch insects and other prey while in mid-air.

The Black-tailed Trogon is also capable of hovering in one spot, which allows it to capture prey that is difficult to reach from a perched position. Self Maintenance:

The Black-tailed Trogon devotes a considerable amount of time to preening and maintaining its feathers.

Preening involves the bird using its beak to clean and condition its feathers, as well as remove any parasites or debris. This helps keep the Black-tailed Trogon’s feathers in good condition, which is important for warmth, flight, and camouflage.

Agonistic

Behavior:

The Black-tailed Trogon is a solitary bird that can be territorial and aggressive towards other birds of the same species. During the breeding season, males may engage in aggressive displays towards other males to establish a breeding territory and attract a mate.

Aggressive displays may include raising the crest on their head, fluffing up their feathers, and making threatening calls. Sexual

Behavior:

The Black-tailed Trogon is monogamous, meaning that pairs mate and remain together during the breeding season.

Once paired, the male and female work together to build a nest, share incubation duties, and care for their offspring.

Breeding

The Black-tailed Trogon begins breeding at around two years of age. The breeding season varies depending on the geographic location in which the bird is found.

In the lowlands, breeding typically occurs in the dry season, while in the highlands, it occurs during the rainy season. Once paired, the male and female work together to build a nest, which is usually located in a tree cavity or in an epiphyte.

The nest is constructed with small twigs and leaves, with a small entrance hole for the adult birds to enter and exit. The female lays two or three white eggs, which both parents take turns incubating for about 14 to 16 days.

Once the chicks hatch, both parents care for them by bringing food to the nest. The chicks fledge from the nest after about three weeks, and the parents continue to care for them for several more weeks.

Demography and Populations

The population of the Black-tailed Trogon is currently considered stable, and it is not considered to be at risk of extinction. However, habitat loss and fragmentation are considered major threats to the species.

Deforestation and forest degradation may limit the Black-tailed Trogon’s ability to find suitable nesting sites and forage for food.

Habitat fragmentation may also affect the species’ ability to interbreed and exchange genetic information between populations.

In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change may also impact the Black-tailed Trogon’s population by altering its habitat and food sources. For example, if temperatures rise significantly, the species’ range may shift, affecting its ability to find suitable nesting sites and forage for food.

Conclusion

The Black-tailed Trogon is a solitary bird species that is territorial towards other birds of the same species. It is monogamous, with pairs mating and working together to build a nest, incubate eggs, and care for their offspring.

Habitat loss and fragmentation are major threats to the Black-tailed Trogon’s populations, along with climate change. Understanding the behavior, breeding habits, and demographics of the Black-tailed Trogon is important for informing conservation efforts for this unique and beautiful bird species.

The Black-tailed Trogon is a stunningly beautiful bird species that belongs to the Trogonidae family and is found in Central and South America. This article covered several important aspects of the Black-tailed Trogon’s behavior, including its diet, foraging habits, locomotion, and breeding.

Additionally, we explored the species’ population demographics and identified key threats to its survival, such as habitat loss and severe climate changes. By understanding these important aspects of the Black-tailed Trogon’s behavior and population demographics, we can work to identify ways to protect and conserve this species for future generations to enjoy.

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