Elegant Trogon Trogon elegans

  • Order: Trogoniformes
  • Family: Trogonidae
  • Polytypic: 5 subspecies
  • Authors: Nathan R. Williams


Geographic Variation

Five subspecies currently recognized, which traditionally are divided into two groups, the northern "Coppery-tailed Trogon" group (three subspecies) and the southern "Elegant Trogon" group (two subspecies):

"Coppery-tailed Trogon" group - collectively, distinguished by the pattern on the undersurface of the tail in males, which is vermiculated but not clearly barred:

canescens: Occurs in southwestern United States and in western Mexico, from Sonora south to Sinaloa. It has slightly longer wings and tail, the males have brighter red on the underparts, males, and females are duller (van Rossem 1934). The upper surface of the tail is coppery. See Detailed Description.

ambiguus: Occurs in eastern and southern Mexico, from Nuevo León and Tamaulipas south to Jalisco, Michoacán, Veracruz, and Guerrero. The upper surface of the tail is even coppery; females are grayer (Sutton and Burleigh 1940).

goldmani: Restricted to the Tres Marias Islands, off of the west coast of Mexico. Males are similar to ambiguus, but the upperparts are greener (Ridgway 1911); this is the only subspecies of the "Coppery-tailed Trogon" group in which the upper surface of the tail is not, in fact, coppery. Females are paler (Ridgway 1911, Stager 1957).

"Elegant Trogon" group - collectively, distinguished by the pattern on the undersurface of the tail in males, which is narrowly barred:

elegans: Occurs in Guatemala; populations of El Salvador and Honduras are variably intermediate between elegans and lubricus.

lubricus: Occurs from Honduras to northwestern Costa Rica. It has more and thicker black bars on its tail. Female and immature plumages are a little yellower and less dull than elegans (Griscom 1930).

Related Species

The northern three subspecies (the "Coppery-tailed Trogon") formerly were considered a separate species, Trogon ambiguus (e.g. Ridgway 1911, Cory 1919). van Rossem (1934) combined ambiguus with elegans. Most subsequent authorities followed his lead, although geographic variation across all five taxa has not been reviewed in detail.

The phylogenetic relationships of trogons were investigated by Espinosa de los Monteros (1998), based on DNA sequence data for two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and 12S ribosomal RNA), and by Moyle (2005), using DNA sequence data from both nuclear (RAG-1) and mitochondrial (ND2) genes. Both Espinosa de los Monteros (1998) and Moyle (2005) identified a clade of trogons that includes Trogon elegans, Black-throated Trogon (Trogon rufus), Mountain Trogon (Trogon mexicanus), Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris), and Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus). Espinosa de los Monteros (1998) identified elegans and rufus as sister taxa. Moyle (2005), on the other hand, identified rufus as basal to all other members of this clade, and elegans as basal to all but rufus.

Recommended Citation

Williams, N. R. (2011). Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.