I sought but did not see. However, I did hear them and had a wonderful hike in Madera Canyon, at the northernmost part of its range. This tropical bird is found from northwestern Costa Rica to the sky island area of southeastern Arizona where Madera Canyon is located in the Coronado National Forest. It breeds in these mountains and, this time of year when establishing territories and finding mates, is the time to see one.
George had a paint out at Madera Canyon so I went along hoping to see a trogan plus hike. Trogans had been spotted near Bog Spring and Kent Spring, which was on a nice loop trail. Shaded plus water and birds - my kind of trail!
A serious birder had pointed out their call and said that Trogan Trail off the uppermost loop was where you would definitely find them. We could hear males defending their territory. However, having already printed off directions for the Bog Springs loop, I dropped George off near the entrance kiosk and parked at Madera Picnic Area trailhead.
It turned out to be a six-mile+ loop with pretty much 3 miles climbing up and 3 miles descending. However, most of it was shaded and there were 3 springs. Unlike Tucson, which got up to at least 100 degrees, Madera Canyon probably got up to the mid-80s by lunch time. That and the shade made it quite pleasant. Birders at Bog Springs did point out the call of the trogan but we didn't see it. This YouTube video shows what I was looking for and the interesting barking sound the males make. Bog Springs consisted of a cement square tub filled with water, accessible to birds and animals, plus lots of shade and plenty of other birds. Below is the view towards Green Valley just before Bog Spring plus a horned lizard aka horny toad seen between Bog and Kent springs.
At Kent Springs, as high as I would climb, there were lush ferns and yellow columbine. The cement tank had less water but some water trickled in the stream bed. Almost 10 a.m. by now, birds were less active. A rather steep jeep trail descended from Kent Springs and past Sylvester Springs- also an area with more water and yellow columbines.
Described as well used, there were a few hikers along the trail, including a fellow with full head gear in camouflage with huge plastic eye coverings and I assume some sort of air filter. Not sure what he was all about! Most hikers, this day, however, were up at the top loop. Those lots were getting crowded at 7 a.m.
George was waiting with his completed painting when I got back to pick him up. He has branched out to water-soluble oils since acrylics dry so quickly in the low humidity of Arizona. I thought he did a beautiful job.
There are a couple of places to stay, picnic areas and lots of hiking. It's not a place for RVs, or at least only small ones. Park and drive your tow or toad car to explore. The higher elevation does make for a pleasant interlude away from the hot desert. And civilization is quite close if you need coffee or other supplies. So even though I can't check the Elegant Trogan off my bird list, it was a wonderful day. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak