Lady Ross's Turaco

Lady Ross's Turaco

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Lady Ross's turaco
Genus Species
Musophaga rossae

Fast Facts

Lady Ross’s turaco is 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. Males and females differ in that females may have a greenish beak.
37.5 to 45 cm (15 to 18 in)
Less than .45 kg (less than 1 lbs.)
These birds feed primarily on plants and fruit, but will occasionally eat insects.
21 to 24 days
Clutch Size
2 eggs
Fledging Duration
4 to 7 weeks
Sexual Maturity
1 to 2 years
Life Span
Approximately 5 to 9 years
This species has an extremely large range and has been documented in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Forests and wooded valleys
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be frequent to even common throughout much of its range. The population appears to be stable and is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

Both the male and female share time incubating the eggs. 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.

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.

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.

These birds have mobile outer toes, which they are able to rotate forward or backward.

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.

These birds live in large flocks of up to 30 individuals. They tend to be monogamous breeders. 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.

Ecology and Conservation

Lady Ross’s turacos are a source of food for many predators.

These birds are so abundant in Africa that they are considered a pest. Their feeding habits are very destructive to farming operations. However, these birds do aid forest renewal through seed dispersal. They also eat berries that are considered highly poisonous to humans.


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.

BirdLife International. 2016. Musophaga rossae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22688391A93195844. Downloaded on 13 March 2019.