A turaco is a uniquely beautiful and classy-looking bird. Its elevated head crest, elegant long tail feathers, and graceful, innocent look in the eye will catch your attention instantly. Turacos, along with plantain eaters and go-away birds, comprise the Musophagidae bird family. The word turaco doesn't have any specific meaning; in southern Africa, these birds are also commonly called loeries. Traditionally, they were thought to be related to cuckoos, but a recent study of their DNA reveals no close surviving relatives.
Another aspect about these birds which makes them incredible is the coloration. The birds from the genus Tauraco and Musophaga have a unique red pigment called turacin and a green pigment called turacoverdin. Turacin is found in the wing feathers, while turacoverdin's presence is seen in the body plumage, giving a striking look that makes them stand out. Read on as we explore some more interesting facts about these fruit-eating birds. If you like reading about the varied avifauna in this world, check our content on hummingbird facts and rainbow bee-eater facts.
What do they prey on?
Fruits, Leaves, Buds, Flowers, Invertebrates
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
9-16 oz (250- 450 g)
How long are they?
16–30 in (40 to 75 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
What are their main threats?
What is their conservation status?
Least Concern - Most Species Bannerman's turaco - Endangered Ruspoli's turaco - Vulnerable Fischer's turaco - Near Threatened
Where you'll find them
Forests, Savannahs, Woodlands
Guinea turaco, Tauraco persa
Turaco Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a turaco?
A turaco is a social, non-migratory bird belonging to the sub-Saharan African region. There are 23 species of Turacos across six genera which include Corythaeola, Crinifer, Tauraco, Musophaga, Gallirex.
What class of animal does a turaco belong to?
A Turaco belongs to class Aves, order Musophagiformes, and family Musophagidae. There are six genera namely Corythaeola, Crinifer, Tauraco, Musophaga, Gallirex.
How many turacos are there in the world?
The global population of these birds is not quantified. However, apart from the three species listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN red list, the population of these three species of the Musophagidae family is also showing a declining trend, they are the red-crested turaco (Tauraco erythrolophus), Hartlaub’s turaco (Tauraco hartlaubi), and purple-crested turaco (Gallirex porphyreolophus).
Where does a turaco live?
The range of the population of these birds is limited to sub-Saharan Africa. They thrive well in forests, woodlands, savannah, and grasslands. The range of some variety of turaco is limited to certain countries, like the white-crested turaco is found in many countries of the region, including Uganda and South Sudan, etc, while the red-crested turaco is native to Angola.
What is a turaco's habitat?
The green and colorful turacos (from genus Tauraco, Musophaga, and Corythaeola) are typically found in the dense evergreen forest. They are called the forest species, while the gray ones (Crinifer, also known as go-away birds) inhabit open woodland and savanna region. Some species of turacos have also adapted well to gardens and suburban parks.
Who do turacos live with?
Turacos are social birds and typically live in family groups of about ten or more members. Most of the species of turacos are considered monogamous and tend to nest alone, while a few of the species are known to breed co-operatively and have helpers to feed the chicks.
How long does a turaco live?
Not much is known about the lifespan of turacos in the wild. However, in managed care in captivity, these birds are pretty hardy and live for 30 years.
How do they reproduce?
The courtship and breeding period for them starts with the rainy season. Courtship displays include calling and chasing another, movement of the crest, feeding fruit to each other, movement of the bill and the tail, and in the case of the brightly colored turacos, spreading the wings to display their beautiful plumage. They are typically monogamous and breed solitarily. However, some have helpers, mostly offsprings from previous broods, which help in rearing the chicks.
The nest of Turacos are flat and are clumsily made up of large sticks and are mostly placed amidst thick foliage trees. The range of the clutch size is two to three eggs; the egg color varies from species to species. The eggs are incubated in the nest by both the parents, and the duration of incubation varies across species. For the green Turaco, it is about 22-23 days; for plantain-eater and go-away bird, it is 27-28 days, and so on. The hatchlings are born with thick down and are taken care of by the parents in the first few weeks. The newborns are fed fruit pulp by regurgitation. They try to climb branches at three weeks, and during their fourth or fifth week, they attempt to fly.
What is their conservation status?
Three species of Turaco, in particular, are considered to be facing some degree of concern. As per the IUCN Redlist, Bannerman's turaco is classified as Endangered, Ruspoli's turaco is listed as Vulnerable, and Fischer's turaco falls under the Near Threatened category.
Turaco Fun Facts
What do turacos look like?
Turacos are typically medium-sized, strikingly colorful birds characterized by a long tail and short rounded wings. They sport a prominent erect crest on their head, the size, color, and shape of which varies across the species. For example, the red-crested turaco (Tauraco erythrolophus) has a cute red crest and the purple-crested turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus) has a bright purple crest. The birds belonging to the forest and woodland species are bright and colorful with shining, iridescent, blue, black, violet, and lustrous green plumage; some have a patch around the eyes and red flight feathers. They also have a thin tiny red ring around the eye. Those belonging to the savanna species are typically grey or brown. Apart from these, the great blue turaco is the largest among the species and sports a greenish-blue plumage and yellow-red bill. Most species of turacos have a short and stout beak, and it is slightly curved at the tip of the upper mandible. One exception to this is the white-bellied go-away bird - the female has a yellow beak while the male has a dark brown beak.
How cute are they?
With their erect crest, long tail, bright plumage, curious-looking eyes, they strikingly stand out and look very elegant and attractive.
How do they communicate?
These birds are highly vocal and have a variety of deep, harsh, resonant calls. The alarm calls of go-away birds sound like 'g'way-g'way', which warns others of danger from predators. The barking and croaking calls of turacos make up one of the unique sounds of the African evergreen forests. To watch and hear them is an experience in itself.
How big is a turaco?
The size of a turaco varies across species in the range of 16–30 in (40 to 75 cm). Most of them are medium-sized with short wings and long tails; the largest among the species is the large great blue turaco (Corythaeola cristata), which length has a range of 28- 30 in (70-76 cm).
How fast can a turaco fly?
The exact speed of their flight is not known, but with its short rounded wings, it has a weak flight. However, this is somewhat compensated by the fact that it has strong legs, making it a good runner. They are good climbers as well and use their legs extensively to move in the forest through trees.
How much does a turaco weigh?
The average weight of Turacos isabout 9-16 oz (250- 450 g). However, the great blue turaco weighs 1.8-2.7 lb (0.8-1.2 kg)
What are the male and female names of the species?
No specific names are used for the males and females of the species.
What would you call a baby turaco?
A baby turaco is called a chick.
What do they eat?
These birds are commonly seen around fruiting trees. Fig is a fruit of choice, so are grapes, papaya. Some are known to go out of their way to feed on their favorite tree. Although it is also known as a plantain eater, it is not known to rely on bananas for its diet solely. Apart from fruits, they also feed on leaves, flowers, buds and occasionally also consume slugs and small insects.
They feed on certain berries and fruits that are considered toxic and poisonous to humans. However, there is no information on these being poisonous to humans.
Would they make a good pet?
They can be tamed if they are hand-reared early on. However, they are not indoor pet birds and need a lot of space for flight and to run around. So, they need to be kept in a sizeable well-planted aviary.
Did you know...
These birds are semi-zygodactylous, which means that they can move their outer (fourth) toes all the way to the front and back. The second and third toes are pointed forward, and in certain species, they are conjoined.
Turaco feathers have been a big part of African culture. For example, a collection of feathers is used to make the headdresses of the Zulu king.
Why is it called a go away bird?
It is often referred to as go-away birds because the characteristic alarm call of some birds from the species sounds 'g'way, g'way'.
Why are turacos unique?
In addition to the conspicuous head crest, they are unique for the presence of pigments turacin and turacoverdin in their plumage which gives them their characteristic bright red and green color. Turacin and turacoverdin are not known to be present anywhere else in the animal kingdom.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including harlequin duck facts and muscovy duck facts.
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