For the first time Tucson Audubon and the Arizona IBA program are organizing a winter survey for Elegant Trogons in SE Arizona. These charismatic birds are famously present in lush canyons of this region’s Sky Island mountain ranges during the spring and summer. They are also present in the winter but in smaller numbers and often in different canyons and riparian areas then where they nest in the spring. Most of these breeding and wintering areas are within Important Bird Areas and we already survey for them in the spring but are also attempting to determine which areas are important for them when they are wintering as well.
This winter survey is a different strategy from our spring surveys. If you are interested in helping you can choose a an area from the list below and check it on a day of your choosing before the end of February 2018. You can sign up for an area and put your results in the spreadsheet at the link below.
Doing the survey: If you choose an area to survey please spend a morning/day birding the area before the end of February 2018 enter your results in the spreadsheet (especially negative results!) as well as on eBird.org. If you do not use eBird please contact Jennie at jmacfarland AT tucsonaudubon.org and we can enter your sightings into eBird for you. Putting this data on eBird is the best way to guarantee that what everyone finds is useful to any birder or researcher interested in this information.
Advice for finding wintering trogons: Elegant Trogons are not that easy to find in the best of circumstances. They are very good at sitting completely still and blending into the shadowy vegetation. At least in the spring the males are noisy but in the winter they make much less noise. For winter searching it is helpful to know that they tend to like areas that provide fruit (such as wolfberry, hackberry, madrone trees, elderberry etc.) and that they will sometimes respond to a played alarm call. Sometimes they respond by calling back or moving closer to you. I would never suggest this strategy if there was a chance of disturbing the birds while they are nesting but since it is the middle of winter the use of judicious playing of alarm calls is permitted for this survey (except if the area prohibits playback such as Madera Canyon).
Here is an example of the Elegant Trogon alarm call of the Elegant Trogon from Xeno-Canto. In the iBird App it as the third audio option for this species (called Alarm call between two individuals) but the Sibley App does not have an alarm call.
To see which routes are still available, to sign up for an area or to report results please visit the spreadsheet at the link below: