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The Alluring Blue-Tailed Trogon: A Fascinating Look into the Tropical World of Birdwatching

Because the Blue-tailed Trogon is an elusive species often found deep in the tropical forests, many bird watchers consider themselves lucky when they catch a glimpse of this stunning bird. The Blue-tailed Trogon, Trogon comptus, is found in the Central and South American region of the Neotropics.

The Neotropical region is home to some of the world’s most diverse bird species, which makes the Blue-tailed Trogon a fascinating subject for bird enthusiasts.


Field Identification

As its name implies, the Blue-tailed Trogon got its name from its unique blue tail, which is arguably its most distinguishing feature. This bird’s colorful plumage makes it easier to spot in the dense foliage of the forest canopy.

The male Blue-tailed Trogon has a bright green upper body with a ruby-red breast, while the female has a more muted green color with a yellow-orange belly. Another identifying characteristic is a white line that runs from the base of the bill to the eyes.

The bill is also short and wide, making it look a bit like a frog’s mouth.

Similar Species

One of the most common confusion species is the Black-throated Trogon, which also has a blue tail, but with a black throat instead of red. The Collared Trogon and the Gartered Trogon are also similar species that occur in the same range as the Blue-tailed Trogon.

However, the Collared Trogon has a white line that goes behind the eye, and the Gartered Trogon does not have a blue tail.


The Blue-tailed Trogon has two distinct plumages: the breeding and non-breeding plumage. During the breeding season, the male’s ruby-red throat stands out in contrast to his green upper body, making him attract more females for mating purposes.

In contrast, the female’s breeding plumage is the same as her non-breeding plumage.


The Blue-tailed Trogon undergoes a complete molt each year, which means that they replace all of their feathers in one go. This molt usually occurs after the breeding season when the bird prepares for the non-breeding season ahead.

During the molt, the bird may hide in dense foliage and rest, meaning that they may become less visible and active. After the molt, the male’s breeding plumage becomes more defined, making them more noticeable in the forest.

Conservation of the Blue-tailed Trogon

The Blue-tailed Trogon is categorized as a species of least concern by the IUCN. While they are not considered endangered or threatened, they are still vulnerable to habitat loss caused by deforestation, mining, and other human activities.

Conservation of the species is vital to the sound ecology of the region. Much of the Blue-tailed Trogon’s habitat is located within protected areas, such as national parks and biological reserves.

These areas provide a safe haven for these birds to thrive, free from human activities.


The Blue-tailed Trogon is an excellent representation of the amazing biodiversity of the Neotropical region. With their vibrant plumage and distinctive features, they are one of the most recognizable species of birds in the area.

They are vital to the ecosystem and their conservation is vital to maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Thanks to the conservation efforts, these birds continue to thrive, and they remain a popular subject for bird enthusiasts worldwide.

Systematics History

The taxonomy and systematics of the Blue-tailed Trogon have undergone several changes over time. Initially, they were classified as a subspecies of the Black-throated Trogon due to their similar physical features.

However, DNA studies revealed that they are distinct species. The Blue-tailed Trogon, scientifically known as Trogon comptus, is currently classified under the family Trogonidae, the order Trogoniformes, and the class Aves.

Geographic Variation

The Blue-tailed Trogon is found across the Central and South American region of the Neotropics. This area is characterized by a high diversity of bird species, and the Blue-tailed Trogon is one of the most widely distributed birds in the area.

Geographically, they are found from southern Mexico to northwestern Bolivia.


The Blue-tailed Trogon has several subspecies, each with distinct physical characteristics. There are currently nine recognized subspecies:


T. c.


2. T.

c. esmeraldae


T. c.


4. T.

c. comptus


T. c.


6. T.

c. chionurus


T. c.


8. T.

c. bahiae


T. c.


The subspecies differ in their physical characteristics, including body size, plumage, and bill size. For example, the T.

c. bahiae has a more vibrant green upper body and a yellow tail, while the T.

c. inundatus has a more muted green color and a red tail.

These subtle differences indicate that the subspecies have adapted to different geographical regions and environmental conditions, allowing them to survive in various habitats.

Related Species

The Blue-tailed Trogon is part of the Trogonidae family, which includes almost 40 bird species that are mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions globally. The Black-throated Trogon (Trogon rufus) is the most closely related species to the Blue-tailed Trogon.

They have similar physical features, with the most significant difference being that the Black-throated Trogon has a black throat. Other related species include the Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus), the Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris), and the Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena).

Historical Changes to Distribution

Over the years, the distribution of the Blue-tailed Trogon has undergone significant changes. Historical changes to the birds distribution were mostly caused by natural events such as climate change, and human activities such as habitat destruction.

During the Pleistocene era, which occurred between 2.6 million and 11,000 years ago, glaciers covered a considerable portion of North America, resulting in the formation of the Beringia land bridge. As a result, Blue-tailed Trogons were able to cross the land bridge connecting North America and Asia and extend their distribution range in North America.

However, as the glaciers retreated, the land bridge disappeared, effectively cutting off the species’ range extension. Human activities have also contributed to the changes in Blue-tailed Trogon distribution.

Habitat destruction, especially in the form of deforestation, has fragmented the birds natural habitat and reduced the species’ distribution. In the past 50 years, the Blue-tailed Trogons distribution has remained relatively stable.

Habitat protection and conservation efforts have played a significant role in ensuring that the species does not undergo significant changes in its distribution. The bird’s ability to adapt to various habitats has also allowed it to survive in different environments, making it capable of withstanding various human and environmental changes.


The Blue-tailed Trogon has undergone significant changes in its distribution over the years due to climate change, habitat destruction, and other human activities. Despite these challenges, the bird availed continued to thrive in the Neotropical region.

The existence of several subspecies of the species indicates that it has adapted to various geographical regions and environmental conditions. Current conservation efforts have helped protect the Blue-tailed Trogons natural habitat, ensuring that its distribution does not undergo significant changes.

The species remains one of the most recognizable birds found in the Neotropics, and through conservation efforts, it will continue to thrive for generations to come.


The Blue-tailed Trogon is a species of bird that thrives in tropical and subtropical forests. In the Neotropical region, they can be found in a variety of forest types, including primary and secondary forests, cloud forests, and dry forests.

The species is known to prefer habitats with dense vegetation, ample canopy cover, and enough food, such as insects and fruit, to survive. In tropical forests, the Blue-tailed Trogons habitat is characterized by dense vegetation that creates a canopy above the forest floor.

The canopy provides an ideal foraging location for Blue-tailed Trogons and other bird species since it’s rich in several insects and fruit species. The species preferred habitats provide excellent opportunities for breeding and raising young ones, considering it is an essential factor in their lifecycle.

Movements and Migration

The Blue-tailed Trogon is a non-migratory bird which means that they do not engage in long-distance, seasonal movements between different parts of their range. However, some populations may make short-distance movements to more favorable habitats at certain times of the year.

One particular group of Blue-tailed Trogons that exhibit migratory behavior is the T. c.

inundatus subspecies. These birds are found in the Andes Mountains of South America, where they breed at higher elevations during the austral summer.

The Andean subspecies migrates to southern South America during the austral winter, and populations from the lowlands migrate to the foothills or high elevations to avoid the colder temperatures of the dry season. Adult birds tend to remain in their territories throughout the year.

In contrast, immature birds, which are vulnerable to dispersal, may explore new areas to establish their territories as they mature. Juvenile birds may disperse to habitats that lack predators or competition, which could explain why this species of bird is distributed across diverse habitats.

Conservation and management

The Blue-tailed Trogon is not considered to be at risk of extinction, although populations in some areas have undoubtedly declined in response to habitat destruction and deforestation.

Habitat destruction due to logging, infrastructure development, urbanization, and agriculture are all major challenges facing the species.

Conservation efforts to protect the species will need to combat these threats through measures such as habitat restoration, developing sustainable land use practices, enforcing environmental policies, and promoting responsible ecotourism. Additionally, it is crucial to understand the species needs for foraging, nesting, and raising young to plan any conservation efforts successfully.

Wildlife corridors can be established to connect fragmented habitats, and the protection of larger intact habitats is necessary to sustain viable populations of the species. Finally, research into the Blue-tailed Trogons ecology and distribution is essential to furthering our understanding of their habitat requirements.

Such efforts can inform conservation efforts and policies that will promote the species long-term survival.


The Blue-tailed Trogon’s requirement for dense vegetation, perfect canopy cover, and food availability makes it essential to protect the habitats they inhabit. Although the species’ current distribution is stable, habitat loss due to human activities is exposing new threats to its viability.

The species is vital in the tropical and subtropical regions, and its ecological role in forests is essential in the prevention of unpredictable ecological changes. The species is an ideal indicator of the effectiveness of conservation policies in the region, and, as such, it is necessary to establish appropriate measures that protect their habitats to ensure their long-term survival.

Diet and Foraging

Blue-tailed Trogons are insectivorous and frugivorous. They typically perch on branches and use their bills to catch insects that are found on foliage.

The birds also supplement their diet by picking small fruits that are found in their territory. They are known to consume large insects such as beetles and cicadas, ranging from a few millimeters up to several centimeters in body length.


Blue-tailed Trogons hunt by sight, relying on the visual perception of prey against the backdrop of foliage to target their prey precisely. The birds have a unique hunting behavior that involves staying still on a perch with their head constantly moving, scanning the environment for prey.

Once, a potential prey is spotted, the birds fly towards the spot, snapping up the prey with their sharp beaks.


The diet of Blue-tailed Trogons can vary based on the season and availability of food. During the breeding season, Blue-tailed Trogons have been observed consuming large insects like moths and beetles to provide enough protein for their offspring.

In the non-breeding season, fruits make up a larger portion of their diet. They have been recorded consuming various types of fruit, including berries and figs that are abundant in the region.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Blue-tailed Trogons have a basal metabolic rate and a respiratory ventilation rate that is adequate for their body size and environmental conditions. The bird’s metabolic rate and respiratory control system also play a vital role in aiding their ability to thermoregulate.

Birds have special cooling mechanisms like respiratory evaporative heat loss, where hot air from their bodies is released through the mouth. In contrast, the cool air that enters through the nostrils cools the respiratory system and helps increase evaporative heat loss.

The bird’s ability to lower their metabolic rate can allow them to survive in harsher conditions where food may be scarce. Overall, this ability to regulate their energy expenditure and thermoregulation are among the factors that allow them to adapt to a range of environmental conditions.

Sounds and Vocal



Blue-tailed Trogons communicate mainly through vocalization, which is essential in establishing their territories, attracting mates, and announcing their presence. Trogons have a unique vocalization that consists of a series of low-pitched, deep coos that are repeated several times in rapid succession.

The frequency and tone are distinctive to each species, allowing birds of the species to identify one another. Blue-tailed Trogons’ vocalization consists of a low whistling kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk.

They often call from still perches in the canopy, repeated several times, characteristic of a territorial announcement. During the breeding season, the males produce a higher-pitched, more rapid call while performing courtship displays.

The calls that are used during courtship may attract females into the male’s territory, where he engages in ritualized displays, including fluffed feathers, wing droops, and tail spread. The courtship display’s vocalization element typically involves soft, rapid trills and chirps that accompany the visual display.


In summary, the Blue-tailed Trogon’s diet is primarily insectivorous and frugivorous, and the birds have unique characteristics that enable them to forage effectively. Blue-tailed Trogons rely on sight and are active foragers, using their sharp beaks to snap up large insects.

The birds also eat small fruits like berries and figs that are found in their territory. The bird’s metabolism and respiratory control system also play a vital role in aiding their ability to thermoregulate.

In contrast, vocalization plays a vital role in establishing territories, announcing their presence, and attracting mates. Understanding the bird’s vocalization and behavior is essential in clarifying their ecology, distribution, and behavior.

Overall, Blue-tailed Trogons play a significant role in maintaining the balance of ecology in the region, and there is a need to protect and conserve the species to ensure their long-term survival.


Blue-tailed Trogons are often observed perching quietly on branches in the upper forest canopy. They are not very active foragers and spend most of their time conserving energy.

When they are active, they use their strong wings to fly quickly and powerfully in short bursts through forest canopies. They also have a hopping locomotion style when foraging for food.

Self Maintenance

Like other birds, Blue-tailed Trogons engage in self-maintenance activities like preening to keep their feathers healthy and clean. They use their bills to realign the barbules found on the feather, ensuring that the feathers stay aligned, allowing for efficient feather maintenance.



Blue-tailed Trogons have a territorial nature and exhibit agonistic behavior towards nest predators and other birds. The birds will defend their territory by engaging in warnings calls or physical interactions with intruders.

While defending their territories, the birds fluff their feathers and raise their wings to appear larger, a behavior that commonly deters intruders. Sexual


During the breeding season, Blue-tailed Trogons exhibit unique sexual behavior that involves courtship displays, including vocalizations.

Courtship displays play a vital role in establishing the pair bond and enhancing mating opportunities. Male birds attract females with visual and audio displays where they exhibit their vibrant plumage colors and engage in vocalization.

The rapid chirping and soft trills complement the visual display, thereby enhancing the courtship display.


Blue-tailed Trogons breed during the wet season when insect abundance and fruit availability are high. That generally spans from late spring to early fall, depending on the region.

During the breeding season, the males establish territories and defend them from other birds. After mating, the females will build a nest in a tree cavity, and both parents contribute to incubating the eggs and taking care of young ones once they hatch.

Blue-tailed Trogons are not very social birds and usually breed singly, but they will occasionally form loose family groups, with offspring remaining in the parent’s territory for extended periods to learn foraging and survival skills.

Demography and Populations

Blue-tailed Trogons have a relatively stable population and are not considered to be in danger of extinction. However, habitat destruction caused mainly by deforestation can severely impact the species’ population size and distribution.

The formation of protected habitats and measures to combat habitat destruction is necessary to maintain stable population sizes that promote genetic diversity and minimize habitat fragmentation. Analyzing the demographics of different subspecies of Blue-tailed Trogons could

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