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(imitation of the bird's cry)
Medium-sized bird with a long tail and tall crest. Eyes and crest are red. Beak is yellowish-green. Body is green.
47.5-50 cm (19-20 in) from beak to tip of tail
Less than .45 kg (less than 1 lb.)
Fruit, flowers, leaves, termites, seeds, acacia, figs, and snails (up to the size of a peach!)
Approximately 5-9 years
Restricted to the African continent, south of the Sahara from Angola to the Congo
Forest and savanna
Turacos are the only birds to possess true red and green color. When you look at most birds, the color you are seeing is a reflection produced by the feather structure. The turaco's red pigment (turacin) and green pigment (turacoverdin) both contain copper. In fact, if you stirred a glass of water with a red turaco feather, the water would turn pink! In museum species, the pigments deepen with age because the copper begins to oxidize.
These birds have mobile outer toes, which they are able to rotate forward or backward.
The call of a turaco sounds like "g'way", which is why they are often referred to as go-away birds.
On their heads is a beautiful crest, which stands about 5 cm (2 in.) when they are excited.
They use their long tails for balance and their feet are very good at gripping.
Turacos live in large flocks of up to 30 individuals. They are monogamous in breeding. During courtship, the male turaco will feed the female. Together, they build their nest; mother and father take turns sitting on the eggs. Once the eggs have hatched, other flock members help the new mother care for the chicks.
Turacos are monogamous.
Very little was known about this species - so little in fact that originally these birds were in the same genus as plantain eaters, however it was later discovered that turacos rarely ate them at all.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
Turacos are a food source for many animals larger than themselves.
They are so abundant in Africa that they are considered a pest. Their feeding habits are very destructive, which annoys most gardeners. However, they aid in seed dispersal by messily eating fruit. They also eat berries that are considered highly poisonous to humans.
Birds of the World
. Golden Press, Inc., New York, 1961.
Birds - Their Latin Names Explained
. Blandford Books Ltd., UK, 1981.
Perrins, Dr. Christopher M. And Dr. Alex L.A. Middleton, eds.
The Encyclopedia of Birds
. New York: Facts on File Pub., 1985.
Cassell's Latin Dictionary
. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1959.