Family Trogons (Trogonidae)

Least Concern

Coppery-tailed Trogon (Trogon ambiguus)


French: Trogon à queue cuivrée German: Kupfertrogon Spanish: Trogón ambiguo

Trogon ambiguus


, 1835,

northern Mexico


Possibly most closely related to T. curucui, T. rufus, T. mexicanus, T. collaris and T. personatus; DNA studies suggest that T. rufus, T. collaris and T. personatus may be nearest relatives. Usually considered conspecific with T. elegans, although for long recognized as distinctive: differs in its finer-grained vermiculations on wingpanel (1); overall golden tone to green of breast, hindcrown and upperparts, the same gene presumably responsible also for uppertail being bronzy-coppery rather than yellowish blue-green (3); undertail pattern without close bold barring but instead with vague, incomplete vermiculations and with outer vane of outer rectrix all white, so that undertail looks almost entirely white (3). Populations in S Arizona and NW Mexico (excluding Tres Marías Is) sometimes separated as race canescens#R, but considered poorly differentiated. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. a. goldmani Nelson, 1898 – extreme S USA (S Arizona and SW New Mexico) and NW Mexico (Sonora, N Sinaloa and W Chihuahua; also Tres Marías Is); N populations are migratory.
  • T. a. ambiguus Gould, 1835 – E & SC Mexico S to Oaxaca; reported in S Texas (S USA).
  • Descriptive notes

    28–30 cm; 60–78·6 g. Compared to formerly conspecific T. elegans (see Taxonomy comments), male has more golden bronze-green upperparts (not tinged bluish), central... read more


    Most vocal, especially males, during breeding season, when occasionally calls long after nightfall... read more


    Usually found in canopy of arid or semi-arid open woodland, pine-oak forest, deciduous riparian... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly fruit in Feb–Jun, insects in Jul–Oct, and fruit and insects in equal quantities in Nov–Jan. Fruit includes Acacia, ... read more


    May–Aug in USA (where single-brooded, but may re-lay if first clutch lost), and Mar–Jul (often two broods) in Mexico. Some birds arrive in... read more


    Apparently mostly resident; N populations partially migratory, moving into Arizona from N Mexico in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to fairly common in much of range; in N thought to fluctuate in numbers between years. In Mexico, very uncommon in Oaxaca, but generally... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Coppery-tailed Trogon (Trogon ambiguus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 January 2020).