Birds and the Elegant Trogon

Everyone loves birds, or at least they should. As a child, I would bring home baby birds that had fallen from their nests. The family would assist me in making a shoe box home for them complete with nesting materials (mostly grass). I would feed them with a dropper. They always died but I continued to bring them home and feed and nurture them in the hopes I could one day watch them fly off to freedom. It never happened but the hope never faded.

I grew up in the north with all the beautiful sounds of the northern songbirds. And with Cardinals….the bright and colorful Northern Red Cardinal to be exact.


They were, and are, my favorites although they do vie with the Blue Jay and the Stellar’s Blue Jay for personal favoritism. In her last days, here at Umpqua River Haven, our mother had a picture window that looked out on a large bird feeder that hung in front of the window. The feeder attracted many of the birds that dwell in Oregon for her to enjoy, but her favorite was the “blue Cardinal.” It was, of course, a Stellar’s Jay. We just let her enjoy her “blue Cardinal” without correction.

Photo by Doug Stonerholm

Previous to Oregon, I lived in the desert for a number of years, at first, unaware of the variety of birds that hang there. Until I’d lived there for awhile with the office door open to let in the outside air. And the birds, or at least the sounds of the birds. Suddenly there was a unique chorus of sound from the birds of the American Southwest. Well, that and birds from Mexico and maybe South America. The sounds were very much like what you would hear in the rain forests way south of the U.S. of A. Jungle sounds echoing across the desert. These were the sounds in the back yards of desert dwellers.

But, you could see them and identify them which is not true in all cases. Here is where we discover the elusive Elegant Trogon. This particular and very beautiful bird has a habitat that ranges from Guatemala to the upper Gila River in Arizona and even into New Mexico.  As migratory birds, they occasionally drift into Texas.

If you refer to the previous blog and the photo of the Santa Rita Mountains, you will note a reference to Madera Canyon that sits in the V of the Santa Ritas. Herein dwells the elusive Elegant Trogon. Madera Canyon is famous for the many varieties of birds that live or migrate there. But it is most famous for the Elegant Trogon.

Birders spend hours at a time watching for the 2,000 varieties of birds that find their way to Madera Canyon. They especially watch for the Elegant Trogon which isn’t easy to spot. This bird is about 12 inches long and weighs a little over 2 pounds. It perches upright and motionless in the trees of the semi and open woodlands and forests. They dine on insects and fruit and nest in Woodpecker holes. And they are very beautiful.

If you ever get to this unique, Arizona place, be sure to watch for the Elegant Trogon that dwells in the upper reaches of Madera Canyon. If luck is with you, you might catch a glimpse of this very pretty bird.

 Photo by Dominic Sherony


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