The singular trill of the Tocororo

The singular trill of the Tocororo


By Alina Veranes

Classified as the national bird of Cuba, the tocororo (Priotelustemnurus) has a plumage of beautiful and bright colors, among which red, blue and white predominate, which distinguish our national flag.

It is of the climbing type, endemic to the country, in genus and in species. Once visualized, no one can ignore it for its majestic bearing and beauty. Those who listen to its song say that it is like a guttural purr reminiscent of the word to-co-ro-ro. Hence its name.

It is also an emblem of the love of freedom of the country's inhabitants, since it is a legend that it refuses to live in captivity and dies of sadness. The nation's forests are habitats of the tocororo, especially the mountain ranges in the Sierra Maestra, Escambray and Guaniguanico, today converted into National Parks, protected by conservative management and recently updated Laws. They are also part of the magnificent reservoir of wildlife that is the Ciénaga de Zapata.

A portion of its green plumage resembles the intense emerald of the Creole countryside, while its chest is white, its belly is covered with red plumage and the blue color dominates its head.
Two variants of the tocororo have been typified in the Cuban archipelago: one that inhabits the Isla Grande and adjacent keys (P. temnurustemnurus), and another found on the Isle of Youth or Pines (P. temnurusvescus).

The unparalleled Cuban tocororo belongs to the Trogoniformes order and the Trogodinae family. It is the only extant species of a family in which the quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, is found. It was called by the Cuban aborigines with the sweet word guatiní, a name that still calls it in some eastern provinces.

It is a bird that usually rests in the foliage for long periods, for which it is not restless or playful, but rather seems to look serenely, ecstatic, at the surrounding landscape. When hunting for food, their movements are fast and precise. Without a doubt, a wonder of our nature.