Wasps’ Nest Ideal Place for One Bird to Lay Its Eggs

The Violaceous Trogon devours some of the stinging insects before digging a cavity.

This story comes to you through a partnership between Audubon and BirdNote, a show that airs daily on public radio stations nationwide.

[audioplayer:86306|align:left|caption:]When it comes time to nest, birds require a site that protects them, both from weather and from predators. Nests are perched high in trees, secreted deep in dense branches, or concealed in cavities. Some birds take a further step—nesting where they are defended by stinging insects.

The Violaceous Trogon (pronounced TRO-gahn) of the New World tropics often excavates its dwelling within a large, active wasps’ nest.

The Violaceous Trogon is a striking bird, ten inches tall with a deep blue head and breast and bright yellow belly. It’s adept at catching insects, and it begins its work at the wasps’ nest by eating some of the wasps. A pair of trogons then digs a cavity within the massive nest, large enough to accommodate themselves and their eggs.

While they may continue to snack on resident wasps throughout nesting, the trogons never eliminate all the wasps. And they create a nest that few predators would dare disturb.

Some birds nest in large ant or termite colonies, too. Safety is where you find it.

To learn more, begin at birdnote.org.

Call of the Violaceous Trogon provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by C.A. Marantz. Producer: John Kessler; Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org     January 2013     Narrator: Mary McCann

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Violaceous Trogon is currently going a classification change, so this bird may also be called the Gartered Trogon.