Lady Ross's Turaco

Lady Ross's Turaco

Birds

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: Lady Ross's turaco
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Cuculiformes [Some sources cite a distinct Order for turacos or "plaintain eaters" of Musophagiformes; (prefix "musa" means "banana")]
FAMILY: Musophagidea [23 species]
GENUS SPECIES: Musophaga rossae

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized bird, with a long tail and broad, round wings. They have three toes on each foot that point forward, while the fourth toe can be rotated forward or backwards (semi-zygodactylous). Males and females differ in that females may have a greenish beak.
SIZE: 37.5-45 cm (15-18 in)
WEIGHT: Less than .45 kg (less than 1 lb.)
DIET: Primarily eat plants and fruit, but will occasionally eat insects
INCUBATION: 21-24 days
CLUTCH SIZE 2 eggs
FLEDGING DURATION 4-7 weeks
SEXUAL MATURITY: 1-2 years
LIFE SPAN: Approximately 5-9 years
RANGE: Central and southern Africa
HABITAT: Forests and wooded valleys
POPULATION: GLOBAL Stable
STATUS: IUCN No data
CITES No data
USFWS No data

FUN FACTS

1. Both the male and female share time incubating their clutch. Both parents also feed the downy chicks by regurgitation. They keep the nest clean by eating the eggshells and the chick's droppings. The chicks will not develop the full adult coloration until about one year.
2. 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.
3. Lady Ross's turacos are very social birds, moving in small noisy flocks. They spend their life among trees in search of fruit until evening when they nest solitarily on a platform of twigs.
4. These birds have mobile outer toes, which they are able to rotate forward or backward.
5. The call of a turaco sounds like "g'way", which is why they are often referred to as Go-away birds.
6. On their heads is a beautiful crest, which stands about 5 cm (2 in.) when they are excited.
7. They use their long tails for balance and their feet are very good at gripping.
8. Turacos live in large flocks of up to 30 individuals. They are monogamous in breeding. During courtship, the male turaco will feed the female. Mated pairs will build their nest together. Once the eggs have hatched, other flock members help the new mother care for the chicks.
9. Very little was known about this genus - 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 plantains 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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Austin, G. Birds of the World. Golden Press, Inc., New York, 1961.

Gotch, A.F. 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.

Simpson, D.P. Cassell's Latin Dictionary. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1959.

statenislandzoo.org/savanna_files/turaco.html