A hike in the Peruvian rainforest is like a walk through a natural cathedral of biodiversity. Immense trees that have been stretching to the sky for hundreds of years tower overhead. Palm trees with spine-covered, stilt-like roots march across the forest floor. The understory seems to be permanently shaded by a canopy of green situated 120 feet above the forest floor. Vine tangles hide myriads of small creatures with uncanny camouflage that resemble dead leaves, twigs, and insect-chewed vegetation. Most animals in the rainforest have evolved such incredible means of staying concealed due to the high number of predators that share their leafy home.
Hundreds of birds prey upon bugs, lizards, and other small creatures and they are in turn hunted by various hawks, falcons, snakes, cats, and even a predatory bat! Nevertheless, not every creature in the jungle is naturally painted in dull hues that allow it to blend into its surroundings. Many butterflies look like fluttering jewels, tree frogs show patches of bright orange and blue, and quite a few bird species have plumage that rivals Gothic stained glass. Most of the colorful birds inhabit the canopy and it is in that upper realm of the forest where trogons are usually encountered.
Trogons are medium-sized birds that frequent tropical forests in many places in the world. Most species sport iridescent plumage that combines such hues as jade-green, purplish-blue, bright yellows, and crimson. In Tambopata, there are six species of trogons that frequent the upper levels of the rainforest. Some species are fairly common and regularly encountered on jungle hikes. Pavonine Quetzal, the largest and rarest of the trogons in Tambopata, is occasionally seen at all of the Rainforest Expedition lodges in Tambopata. Much more common are the stately Black-tailed Trogon, White-tailed Trogon, Collared Trogon, and the small Blue-crowned Trogon.
Some interesting facts about trogons:
- Their name means “gnawing”: Oddly enough, the word “trogon” comes from the Greek term for “gnawing” or “nibbling”. This may refer to the way in which these birds excavate their nest cavities.
- Pluck fruits on the wing: Trogons are mostly frugivorous but can’t pluck fruits while perched. Instead, they hover in front of the desired fruit and pluck it in flight.
- Unique toes: Trogons are the only type of animal that has heterodactyl toes. This means that the first and second toes point back while toes three and four point forward.
How to see trogons during an Amazon adventure:
- Locate a fruiting tree: Trogons tend to perch near their food source. If something like a fruiting fig can be located, there is a good chance that a few trogons will be in the vicinity.
- Listen for their calls: Trogons frequently vocalize for extended periods of time and this is an excellent way to locate them. They make a variety of barking and whistled sounds.
- Watch for them from a canopy tower: Trogons are often seen from the canopy towers at the Rainforest Expedition lodges. Your guide will be looking for them and happy to show them to you.
Experience the beauty of trogons and other colorful birds during a Peruvian jungle adventure with Rainforest Expeditions.