Lattice-tailed Trogon at Torre Alta de Pavones

Lattice-tailed Trogon (Trogon clathratus): Trogón ojiblanco; Sperberschwanztrogon; Trogon échelette

Trogons spend a lot of time quietly perched waiting for passing insect prey or feeding on fruit. Despite their beautiful plumage they can easily pass unobserved but, once located and not disturbed, they may often be observed well for many minutes. I once had to abandon three Resplendent Quetzals that refused for almost an hour to leave their perches on the higher slopes of the Turrialba. I’ve had no such luck with today’s bird, however. It has not, to my knowledge, been reported yet from either the Turrialba or the Irazú Volcano despite many sightings at quite high elevations in other parts of the country.

One of 9 trogon species in this country, the Lattice-tailed Trogon is the only one restricted to just Costa Rica and Panama. Our local reports seem also to be quite limited, to the area around San Rafael de Pavones, where local guide Steven Aguilar found the bird again this week, or, rather further afield, at the Las Brisas Reserve out towards Siquirres.

Lattice-tailed Trogon; file photo courtesy of Richard Garrigues
Male Lattice-tailed Trogon at Pavones in 2016; photo by John Beer

The male of this trogon can be distinguished from other red-bellied species by the white eye (cf. the Spanish name, ojiblanco) and the lack of a white band separating the red belly from the green upper chest. Both of the photos above are of male birds. If any of my readers have a pic of the drabber, mostly dark-brown female, please do send it in!

The only other red-bellied trogon without this band is the Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena), which is reported uncommonly from lower elevations in the Turrialba area. Here for comparison is a shot of a male bird that John and Milena found at Siquirres:

Male Slaty-tailed Trogon at El Cocle, Siquirres; photo by John Beer

And a fine full-length view:

Slaty-tailed Trogon, courtesy of Karel Straatman

Note additionally the male massena sports an orange bill, as distinct from the yellow bill of the Lattice-tailed. Unless seen very well from the front the tail is not in my opinion a reliable field mark with which to distinguish these two trogons.

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