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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena

Daniel Horton
Version: 1.0 — Published October 31, 2014



Breeding of Slaty-tailed Trogon is reported from May-June in Mexico (Paynter 1955), March-June in Belize (Russell 1964), March-June in Costa Rica (Stiles and Skutch 1989), and February-July in Panama (Willis and Eisenmann 1979). Specimens in breeding condition were collected in Colombia in Febuary (Hilty and Brown 1986). In Costa Rica, Slaty-tailed Trogon nests were reported from early March to June or July, and eggs from April to June (Skutch 1972).

Trogons are obligatory cavity nesting birds. Slaty-tailed Trogon nests have been observed in rotted stubs or stumps of massive trees (2.6-5.6 m above ground) and in a termitaria (4.7 m); pairs also seen working on excavations at heights of 12-15 m; both sexes (Skutch 1953, 1972). Although they are not as effective as woodpeckers in cavity creation, they excavate with their stout bills and focus their efforts on termite nests (especially of the genus Nasutitermes) or rotting tree trunks (Skutch 1999). Their cavities consist of a rounded chamber at the end of a short, upwardly-inclining tube. Because of this, brooding individuals are often hidden within the trees. Cavities in tree trunks and termitaria were similar in shape and size – 21 cm high and 16 cm wide; ascending tube is about 13 cm long and 9 cm in diameter and opens to top of nest chamber; a ridge separates the chamber from the entrance, preventing the eggs from rolling out; chamber is unlined although during incubation regurgitated seeds accumulate and provide bed for eggs (Skutch 1953, 1972).

Egg weight estimated at 14.1-15.8 g (Johnsgard 2000); egg dimensions for hoffmanni average 35.35 x 27.05 mm (Wetmore 1968) and 36.3 x 28.1 mm (Skutch 1972). Clutches usually with 2-3 white to pale bluish white eggs (Skutch 1972; Skutch 1999). In one nest, male incubated from early morning until late afternoon and the female incubated through the night (Skutch 1972). Little is known of brood rearing, but chicks were observed being fed winged insects (Gross 1930).

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