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(imitation of bird's call)
Green with deep greenish-blue tail and wings (crimson under wings). Patch of white in front of eye and side of neck. Red beak and eye ring. Blue-green crest.
43 cm (17 in) from beak to tip of tail
Fruit, some invertebrates (frugivores)
Approximately 10-12 years
Central and South Africa
Tall forest, riverside forest, evergreen forest, and wooded valleys
Turacos are the only birds to possess true red and green pigmentation. 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!
On their head 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. In fact, their fourth toe can rotate forward or backward in order to have a better grip on their perch.
These turacos live in flocks of up to 12 individuals. They are shy and prefer to perch out of sight.
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. Chicks can fly at 4 weeks of age. They may leave the nest at 6 weeks of age (or decide to stay with the flock).
When faced with danger, they sit very still and fly away at the last minute with power flaps, revealing the crimson color under their wings.
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. The many seeds that pass through their system create new growth.
These birds also warn other animals of predators with their bright red wings in flight.
Birds of the World
. Golden Press, Inc., New York, 1961.
Birds - Their Latin Names Explained
. Blandford Books Ltd., UK, 1981.
Perrins, Christopher (ed.).
The Encyclopedia of Birds
. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985.
Cassell's Latin Dictionary
. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York., 1959.
Williams, J. Collins.
Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa