Trogonidae – Trogons & Quetzals

Masked Trogon Trogon personatus ©Ian Montgomery Website

The Trogonidae or trogons and quetzals are birds in the order Trogoniformes which contains only one family.. The family contains 43 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 they gnaw holes in trees to make their nests.

They are residents of tropical forests worldwide. The greatest diversity is in the Neotropics, where four genera, containing 28 species occur. The genus Apaloderma contains the three African species. The genera Harpactes and Apalharpactes, containing twelve species, are found in southeast Asia.

They feed on insects and fruit, and their broad bills and weak legs reflect their diet and arboreal habits. Although their flight is fast, they are reluctant to fly any distance. Trogons are generally not migratory, although some species undertake partial local movements. Theyhave soft, often colourful, feathers with distinctive male and female plumage. They are the only type of animal with a heterodactyl toe arrangement. They nest in holes dug into trees or termite nests, laying 2–4 white or pastel-coloured eggs.

According to the IOC there are 43 species in this family, which are:

Eared Quetzal Euptilotis neoxenus

Pavonine Quetzal Pharomachrus pavoninus
Golden-headed Quetzal Pharomachrus auriceps
White-tipped Quetzal Pharomachrus fulgidus
Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno
Crested Quetzal Pharomachrus antisianus

Cuban Trogon Priotelus temnurus
Hispaniolan Trogon Priotelus roseigaster

Lattice-tailed Trogon Trogon clathratus
Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena
Choco Trogon Trogon comptus
Ecuadorian Trogon Trogon mesurus
Black-tailed Trogon Trogon melanurus
Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus
Citreoline Trogon Trogon citreolus
White-tailed Trogon Trogon chionurus
Baird’s Trogon Trogon bairdii
Green-backed Trogon Trogon viridis
Gartered Trogon Trogon caligatus
Amazonian Trogon Trogon ramonianus
Guianan Trogon Trogon violaceus
Blue-crowned Trogon Trogon curucui
Surucua Trogon Trogon surrucura
Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus
Elegant Trogon Trogon elegans
Mountain Trogon Trogon mexicanus
Collared Trogon Trogon collaris
Masked Trogon Trogon personatus

Narina Trogon Apaloderma narina
Bare-cheeked Trogon Apaloderma aequatoriale
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum

Javan Trogon Apalharpactes reinwardtii
Sumatran Trogon Apalharpactes mackloti

Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus
Red-naped Trogon Harpactes kasumba
Diard’s Trogon Harpactes diardii
Philippine Trogon Harpactes ardens
Whitehead’s Trogon Harpactes whiteheadi
Cinnamon-rumped Trogon Harpactes orrhophaeus
Scarlet-rumped Trogon Harpactes duvaucelii
Orange-breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios
Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus
Ward’s Trogon Harpactes wardi

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 43

Useful Reading
  • Trogons: A Natural History of the Trogonidae

    Joseph M. Forshaw | Illustrated by Albert Earl Gilbert | Hardcover | 2009 | 304pp | 75 colour illustrations ISBN: 9788496553514 Buy this book from

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