Javan trogon (Apalharpactes reinwardtii)

Also known as: Blue-tailed trogon
Synonyms: Harpactes reinwardtii
GenusApalharpactes (1)
SizeAverage head-body length: 34 cm (2)

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

With their colourful plumage and typical posture, the trogons are a highly distinctive group of birds (3). The Javan trogon is an extremely attractive species that stands out from most other Asian trogons by not being predominantly red in colour. Instead, this species has bright blue-green upperparts, starkly contrasting yellow underparts, and a pale grey-green band stretching across the chest (2). The tail is a vibrant blue, while the head is a yellowish-green with a red bill and a blue eye ring of naked skin (2) (3). The sexes are similar in appearance, although the female is somewhat duller and has narrower and slightly more buff wing bars (4). Trogons are highly adapted for life in dense forests, with short, rounded wings and long tails that provide excellent manoeuvrability in flight. The legs are short and stubby, while the toes are arranged for grasping onto branches, with the first and second digits turned back, a characteristic unique to the trogons (3).   

Endemic to West Java, Indonesia, the Javan trogon has an extremely small range, and is effectively restricted to what little montane forest remains on the island. It has only been recorded at three locations in the last 60 years, although it may be found at a number of other sites that have not yet been surveyd (4) (5).  The Javan Trogon is still regularly seen at Gunung Halimun Salak National Park and Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park (4).

The Javan trogon is typically found in mid-montane rainforest, between 800 and 2,600 metres above sea level (4).

Trogons display remarkable aerial agility and are even capable of hovering for brief periods, a skill the Javan trogon employs to pluck fruits and insects off foliage and branches (3) (4). Returning to its perch, food is swallowed whole, regurgitating seeds once the nutritious flesh has been digested (3). Medium to large insects, such as caterpillars and beetles, and various fruits form the bulk of the diet, but the Javan trogon may also eat small vertebrates, such as lizards and frogs, using its powerful bill to kill prey (2) (3).  

Very little is known about the breeding biology of the Javan trogon, but it is suspected to breed between April and December at the outset of the wet season in West Java (2). Nests are constructed in old woodpecker holes or cavities are excavated within arboreal termite nests or rotten tree trunks (3). A clutch of one or two eggs is laid and, in common with other trogons, the eggs are incubated by both parents (2) (3). The parents also cooperate in the care of the young chicks, which become independent several weeks after fledging (3).

With only five percent of original forest cover remaining on Java, the Javan trogon is primarily threatened by the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its forest habitat (4) (6). Java is the most densely inhabited Indonesian island, and urbanisation and agriculture continues to encroach upon the island’s forests (7). However, the montane forests that remain on Java are now relatively stable in their limited extent (8).

With a small population and an extremely restricted range, the survival of the Javan trogon may be dependant upon the successful implementation of conservation measures (1). Thankfully, this rare species has been afforded some protection in the Gunung Gede-Pangrango and Gunung Halimun National Parks, with the latter supporting the largest remaining population (4). The Javan trogon will also benefit from further surveys aiming to determine the full extent of the species’ range, and the establishment of several new protected areas (4) (7).

For more information on conservation in Indonesia, see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

Authenticated (07/06/2010) by Nick Brickle, WCS Indonesia Programme, Indonesia.

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Perrins, C. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. BirdLife International (March, 2010)
  5. Collar, N. and Van Balen, S. (2002) The blue-tailed trogon Harpactes (Apalharpactes) reinwardtii: species limits and conservation status. Forktail, 18: 121-125.
  6. WWF (March, 2010)
  7. BirdLife International EBA Factsheet (March, 2010)
  8. Brickle, N. (2010) Pers. comm.