Red-headed trogon

   ›      ›   Red-headed trogon - Harpactes erythrocephalus.

The red-headed trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) is a dimorphic arboreal bird, belonging to the family of trogons and quetzals, Trogonidae. These trogon species are distributed in Northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and southern China. The male birds are colorful and are crimson and rusty brown. There are ten subspecies of red-headed trogon.

Red-headed trogon - Overview

  • Scientific name: Harpactes erythrocephalus
  • Species author: (Gould, 1834)
  • Synonyms: Trogon erythrocephalus Gould, 1834
  • Family: Trogonidae › Trogoniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Common Name: Red-headed trogon
  • Other languages: Chinese: 红头咬鹃, French: Trogon à tête rouge, German: Rotkopftrogon, Spanish: Trogón cabecirrojo, Russian: Красноголовый азиатский трогон, Malay: Burung Kesumba Gunung, Japanese: ズアカキヌバネドリ, Indonesian: Burung Luntur Kepala-merah
  • Other names: Red headed Trogon
  • Distribution: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, China
  • Diet and feeding habits: stick-insects, beetles, cicadas, locust, millipedes, butterflies, flies, grasshoppers, centipedes, aphids, leaves, berries, fruits
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The ten recognized subspecies of Harpactes erythrocephalus are: H. e. erythrocephalus (Gould, 1834), H. e. flagrans (S. Müller, 1836), H. e. helenae Mayr, 1941, H. e. chaseni Riley, 1934, H. e. yamakanensis Rickett, 1899, H. e. klossi (Robinson, 1915), H. e. rosa (Stresemann, 1929), H. e. annamensis (Robinson & Kloss, 1919), H. e. intermedius (Kinnear, 1925 and H. e. hainanus Ogilvie-Grant, 1900.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The red-headed trogon is a medium-sized, dimorphic, arboreal bird measuring 31 to 35 cm in length and weighing 80 to 110 grams. In trogon males, the head, neck and mid-breast are crimson. There is a narrow white breast-band passing along the mid-breast. The lower half of the breast and abdomen are lighter red and pink. The mantle and back are rusty brown.

There is black-white vermiculation on median wing coverts, secondary coverts, tertials and secondaries. The red-headed trogon primary feathers are black and white. The central tail feathers are long and are dark brown with a black tip. The second and third pairs of tail feathers are black. The outer pair are white with black bases. In male trogon the legs are pale purple-blue and the bill is blue in color. The irises are brown with blue eye-ring.

The female trogon has olive-brown plumage on the head, neck and breast. It has a white band in the mid-breast region. The lower breast and the abdomen are colored light red and pink. The mantle and the back are brown. The wings have dark brown vermiculation. The female trogon bill, gape and the eye-ring are pale blue.
Birds of India -Red-headed trogon - Harpactes erythrocephalus
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Indian birds - Red-headed trogon - Harpactes erythrocephalus
Birds of India - Red-headed trogon - Harpactes erythrocephalus
Indian birds - Red-headed trogon - Harpactes erythrocephalus
Birds of India -Red-headed trogon - Harpactes erythrocephalus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The red-headed trogon species are distributed in North India, South China, Myanmar, Malay peninsula, Indochina and Indonesia. The subspecies H. e. chaseni is distributed in the upland forests in Malay Peninsula. The subspecies H. e. annamensis is distributed in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

The red-headed trogon subspecies H. e. intermedius is distributed in Vietnam and Laos. The subspecies H. e. rosa is distributed in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is South Central China. The trogon subspecies H. e. helenae is distributed in Myanmar and South China. The subspecies H. e. erythrocephalus is distributed in Nepal, North India, Myanmar and Thailand.

The red-headed trogon subspecies H. e. yamakanensis is distributed in Southeast China. The subspecies H. e. hainanus is distributed in Hainan Island (China). The trogon subspecies H. e. klossi is distributed in Cambodia and East Thailand. The subspecies H. e. flagrans is distributed in the mountains of Sumatra (Indonesia).

Ecosystem and habitat

These trogon species prefer upland forest systems. They inhabit submontane and montane forests, rocky hills and hillside forests, dense broad-leaved forests, tropical and subtropical forests, bamboo forests and evergreen forests.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of red-headed trogon is mainly insects like stick-insects, beetles, cicadas, locust, millipedes, butterflies, flies, grasshoppers, centipedes and aphids. They also feed on leaves, especially bamboo leaves, berries and fruits.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the trogon species is from April to July in North India. The breeding season in China and Myanmar is in April. These trogon species nest in natural tree hollows, abandoned nests of woodpeckers and barbets. They also excavate the entire nesting cavity by chipping the wood with bill. Both the red-headed trogon pair participate in nest excavation and incubation of eggs. The clutch contains two to four eggs and the chick hatch in about 18 days.

Migration and movement patterns

These trogon species are non-migratory resident birds. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding. However, in Laos altitudinal movements have been recorded. The red-headed trogon have been found to descent to lower altitudes from the upland forests in winter.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the red-headed trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be declining. These species have large range and population. The continued habitat loss in the form of deforestation is having negative impacts on the trogon populations.

These red-headed trogon does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable neither under the population trend criterion nor under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the red-headed trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Harpactes erythrocephalus
Species:H. erythrocephalus
Binomial name:Harpactes erythrocephalus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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