Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Take Me To Your Trogon

I poked around the New Mexico bootheel recently. I visited:

As I drove on the Cave Creek Canyon road, I saw a homestead that identified itself as Trogon Ranch. And I thought, what? A science fiction fan? Or maybe there were Trogons in the J.R.R. Tolkien series? Or a subgenus of troglodytes?

I knew my guesswork was probably off track when I took a side road and saw a sign instructing people not to engage in recording, as it might disturb the trogons. Who were here. This was odd to me, because I couldn't figure out why a silent operation such as recording would disrupt anything. Maybe these trogons were such sensitive creatures they could "hear" the barely-perceptible air-disturbance of recording equipment in action? Did this include video recording from my point-and-shoot camera? For real? 

It wasn't til later, after I'd turned into the Southwestern Research Station, and asked the gift-shop woman about this recording business that she solved the mystery. The trogons are birds, much sought after for viewing by birders, which range from their northernmost point, in the Chiricahua Mountains, to Costa Rica.  As for the recording business, evidently birders will project previous recordings of, say, female trogons, in order to elicit the calls of male trogons. So the sign referred to the full process of recording  - the sending out of a false call in order to attract real trogons - that disturbs trogons. Ohhhhhhhh.

So now for the big reveal, I present an Elegant Trogon:

Elegant Trogon. Credit: Dominic Sherony via WikiMedia Commons

A few accounts about the trogons from birders:

Vera Walters tells an engrossing story of trogons in a 1997 issue of Bird Watching Daily: Searching for Trogons in the Chiricahua Mountains of Southeastern Arizona.

John Yerger, of Portal, Arizona, shares his experiences during the 2011 trogon count in his blog, Adventure Blogging, in this post: After the Fire: Cave Creek Canyon, Trogon Census.

Another Portal resident, Narca Moore-Craig, describes her delighted sightings of the trogons in this series of her blog, Art & Other Adventures with Narca. Her title painting is lovely.

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