Madera Canyon Elegant Trogons


I’ve been wishing to spend some time again in the mountains of southern Arizona to see and (hopefully) photograph Elegant Trogons.  I’ve been imprisoned for the past two years by my Master’s classes and teaching full time, but I graduated recently and am now free again to enjoy some birding and photography.  On Tuesday last week, I hiked up the Carrie Nation Trail in the Santa Rita Mountains with my camera gear and was able to photograph both the male and female Trogons.  They visited their active nest cavity once before the afternoon inactivity set in.  I decided I would return the following morning dark and early to hopefully see them going to the nest again.  I arrived early and hiked up canyon again with my gear.  I passed the female on the way up, but kept going to sit quietly in a spot where I could see their nest cavity.  I settled in and waited.  And waited some more.  No birds for over an hour.  Hmm.  Then I realized I was hearing a soft little whining song nearby.  Figuring the trogons were off doing other things, I decided check out the sound.  Perhaps I would find it was a squirrel or something interesting to photograph.  Only a few steps from where I began, there was a large boulder I was about to walk across, when something caught my eye.  It was a trogon fledgling!  The baby bird was just hanging out on the rock making the sound I had been hearing.  They must have fledged super early that morning or the evening before.  I laughed to myself, knowing that I had been sitting next to a trogon this whole time.  So I moved away to get my camera ready, and the baby trogon flew up to a branch over the trail.  I started to imagine a photo of one of the adult trogons feeding the fledgling on that branch and grew more and more excited.  Then Dad flew in and landed on the branch in the tree above me.  Another couple arrived and minutes later we all enjoyed the incredible experience of the male Elegant Trogon feeding his baby right there on the branch in front of us.  It was awesome.  Over the next couple hours, Dad fed the baby multiple times in various places and we gave them the space they needed.  Then a Red-tailed Hawk flew in and was scolded and chased away by the male trogon.  We became worried the hawk got the fledgling, especially when Dad became silent after that encounter.  Luckily, I found the baby trogon safely perched in thick foliage along the stream bed.  Through all of this, the female trogon never showed up.  I thought she might be down canyon with another fledgling.  Sure enough, on the way down, I came across her and another baby trogon.  So there are definitely two new Elegant Trogons in Madera Canyon! 


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