- Common Name
- grey turaco, grey go-away bird, grey lourie
- Cuculiformes [Some sources cite a distinct Order for turacos or "plaintain eaters" of Musophagiformes; (prefix "musa" means "banana")]
- Musophagidea [23 species]
- Genus Species
- Corythaixoides (helmet-shaking) concolor (similar in color); first described in 1833
- Medium-sized gray bird with a long tail and tall crest feathers. This species has a short, dark bill and dark eyes. The body is slightly counter-shaded and the legs are gray. The tail is long and measures about the same length as the body.
- From beak to tip of tail 47.5–50 cm (19–20 in.)
- Less than .45 kg (less than 1 lbs.)
- Feed mostly on fruit, mainly figs (bananas are not native to Africa); they will also forage for berries, flowers, leaves, termites, seedpods, acacia, and snails (some of which are peach-sized!)
- 26–28 days
- Clutch Size
- 2–3 eggs
- Fledging Duration
- 4 weeks
- Sexual Maturity
- 1–2 years
- Life Span
- Up to 20 years
- South Africa; also tropical West and Central Africa
- Global: Unknown
- IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II for members of genus Tauraco
USFWS: Not listed
- These gray birds are characterized by a very distinct "G'way" call, giving them their nickname, grey go-away bird. They use this call to warn the other birds in their flock of impending danger.
- Turacos are the only birds to possess true green and red pigmentation. When you look at most birds, the color that you perceive is a function of the feather structure and refracted light. The green pigments are produced by substances that are rare to other birds. The red colors are produced by pigments (porphyrin) that are unique to the animal kingdom. (In fact, if you stirred a glass of water with a turaco feather, the water would turn color.)
- Turacos possess semi-zygodactyl feet (3 toes in front and one toe to the side). The toe that points outward can be rotated to the front or back.
- These birds have a beautiful set of crest feathers that can reach a height of about 5 cm (2 in.) during periods of excitement.
- 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, with female and male taking turns incubating the eggs. Once the eggs have hatched, other flock members help the female 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).
- They use their long tails to maintain balance and their feet are well adapted for gripping branches. These birds seem to enjoy running along horizontal branches, rather than hopping or flying.
Ecology and Conservation
Turacos are a food source for many animals larger than themselves.
Local abundance combined with semi-destructive feeding habits may bring turacos into conflict with farmers who experience the birds as pests amongst their crops. However, turacos – due in large part to their particular feeding habits – do play an active role in seed dispersal.
Turacos in the genus Tauraco are listed as CITES Appendix II species.
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.
Simpson, D.P. Cassell's Latin Dictionary. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1959.