Feathers of Fire: Journeying into the Enchanting World of the Red-Headed Trogon (Video)

In the heart of lush and vibrant landscapes, the red-headed trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) reigns as a tropical treasure, captivating the eye with its unique and exquisite appearance. With its striking features and intriguing behavior, this avian wonder leaves an indelible mark on the forests it inhabits.

Measuring around 34 cm (13 inches) in length, the red-headed trogon stands out with its remarkable red head and breast, setting it apart from its trogon counterparts. The male boasts a crimson head, neck, and upper breast, while a slender white band adorns the mid breast. The lower breast to abdomen transition showcases a gradient from light red to delicate pink. Rusty brown shades grace its mantle and back, while its flanks exude a pale red hue. The wings showcase a mesmerizing interplay of black and white patterns, while the tail features a harmonious blend of dark brown, black, and white feathers. A cobalt blue bill with a black tip, deep mauve-blue gape and eyering, and reddish-brown irises complete its distinguished facial features.

The female red-headed trogon presents an equally enchanting appearance. With an olive-brown head, neck, and upper breast, it exudes an understated elegance. A white band traverses the mid breast, transitioning to a lighter red and pink hue towards the lower breast and abdomen. The mantle and back display shades of orange-to-brown, while the wings showcase intricate patterns of dark brown and yellowish-brown. The tail feathers mirror those of the male. The female’s bill, gape, and eyering appear in a delicate pale blue shade.

Spanning from central Nepal to Southeast Asia and southern China, the red-headed trogon’s habitat encompasses diverse regions. While habitat destruction has led to a decline in its population in Nepal, it remains relatively common in northeastern India, Bhutan, and localized areas of Bangladesh. This bird flourishes in upland forests, dense broadleaved forests, and tropical and subtropical zones in the foothills of the Himalayas. Across Southeast Asia, it thrives in broadleaved evergreen forests, with elevations ranging from 300 to 2,600 meters (980 to 8,530 feet). In specific areas like Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, it thrives in bamboo and oak forests, as well as adjacent plains.

The red-headed trogon is a skilled hunter, primarily feeding on insects and their larvae. It dines on various types of orthopterans, stick insects, cicadas, flies, beetles, centipedes, woodlice, and moths. Occasionally, it incorporates leaves and fruits into its diet. Often observed perching on shaded branches, this species engages in slow and close-to-ground flight patterns between trees. Their heightened activity during the early morning and nighttime hours allows them to actively hunt moths on the fringes of forest clearings.

Red-headed trogons build their nests in natural tree cavities, usually positioned 1.5 to 5 meters (4 feet 11 inches to 16 feet 5 inches) above the ground. Nest construction involves both male and female participation, including excavation, incubation, brooding, and chick feeding. The female lays 2 to 4 round, glossy, cream-colored eggs, which both parents incubate. The chicks hatch after an 18-day incubation period and leave the nest approximately 13.4 days later. Nesting occurs between March and July, with peak egg-laying periods varying across regions.

In the realm of tropical forests, the red-headed trogon graces its surroundings with its vibrant hues and captivating behavior. As a symbol of nature’s intricacies, this avian gem adds a touch of magic to the lush landscapes it calls home.

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