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Version 1.0

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Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena

Daniel Horton
Version: 1.0 — Published October 31, 2014



Like other species of trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon is "sluggish" and often remains perched quietly for long periods  (Hilty and Brown 1986). Slaty-tailed Trogon forages by plucking fruit, as well as caterpillars and insects, with sallies or hover gleans from a perch (Hilty and Brown 1986, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Skutch 1999). Specialized foraging behavior includes a commensal relationship with foraging white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capuchinus). Monkeys often exhibit a prey-flushing tactic in foraging, with Slaty-tailed Trogon taking advantage of insects dispersing from the area (Stott and Selsor 1961, Fontaine 1980, Remsen et al. 1993). Slaty-tailed Trogon is known to disperse the seeds of some trees (e.g., nutmeg). However, research indicates it is relatively less effective than other dispersers such as toucans and spider monkeys (Howe 1981, Howe 1989, Howe 1991, Howe 1993).

Slaty-tailed Trogon typically ranges from the midstory up into the canopy (Karr 1971, Greenberg 1981, Hilty and Brown 1986, Stiles and Skutch 1989).


Slaty-tailed Trogon exhibits a dominance-overlap territorial system, which means that foraging areas overlap broadly, but nesting areas do not (Karr 1971). There is no published information on territory or home range size for Slaty-tailed Trogon.

Sexual Behavior

Socially monogamous (Skutch 1999). Pairs have been reported to conduct dueting songs, with female's voice raised about a half-tone higher than the male’s (Davis 1972). Slud (1964) observed behavior that is probably courtship: male raises tail while performing jerky bow or dove-like nod and exposes red undertail coverts, green rump, and upper tail coverts by fluffing them; female also raises tail and exposes red undertail coverts without jerking or nodding head. The two may approach each other and, usually keeping backs turned, continually raise and lower tails while uttering churring chuckles.

Social and interspecific behavior

Like most species of trogon, Slaty-tailed Trogon is generally solitary or in pairs, but sometimes occurs in groups at fruiting trees or when seeking mates (Skutch 1972). Small groups may convene where insects are stirred up by mammal movements (Stott and Selsor 1961).


None reported. However, a species of Brueelia louse has been documented on Slaty-tailed Trogon (Johnson et al. 2002).

Recommended Citation

Horton, D. (2014). Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.slttro1.01