Birds of the World

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ANECDOTES

  Turacos
 
 
 

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Musophagiformes / Cuculiformes - Plantain-eaters, Turacos
 
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Musophagiformes, Cuculiformes, Opisthocomiformes
Families: Musophagidae - Plantain-eaters, Turacos, Go-away Birds
   Cuculidae - Cuckoos, Roadrunners, Anis
   Opisthocomidae -Hoatzins
 
Images:   
Knysna Turaco, Great Blue Turaco, European Cuckoo, Roadrunner, Smooth-billled Ani, Hoatzin
 
  Order Musophagiformes - Plantain-eaters, Turacos,
      Go-away Birds
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  Traditionally turacos have been placed in a family in the Order Cuculiformes. However, Sibley and Monroe (1990) place them in different orders. Clements (2007) retains them in the Cuculiformes. Take your pick
 
  Family Musophagidae - Plantain-eaters, Turacos,
      Go-away Birds
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  23 species 5 genera (Sibley and Monroe, 1990, and Clements, 2007) or 6 genera (Harris, 2009). The family (or order) is confined to Africa south of the Sahara.
   The Family can be divided into two groups:
      SUBFAMILY MUSOPHAGINAE - Turacos    Wiki
      SUBFAMILY CRINIFERINAE - Plantain-eaters, Go-away-birds    Wiki

   Turacos are medium-sized arboreal birds, living in forests, woodland, and savanna. Their flight is weak but the run quickly through the canopy. Their wings are short and rounded and their flight is weak. The tail is long. Their feet have four toes and the fourth toe is reversible (semi-zygodactyl). It can be brought forward when perching or rotated backward to aid climbing.
   Turacos are desmognathous. Their flexor tendons are Type 1. The podotheca are scutellate. Pelvic muscles are ABDFGXY+. There is an aftershaft. Wings are eutaxic. The tomia (cutting edges of the mandibles) are more or less serrate; the bill is short and thick with the culmen strongly arched. Their nostrils are holorhinal and impervious. They have 15 cervical vertebrae. Five ribs reach the sternum. There is a notched atlas. Eyelashes are absent. They lack a furculum (wish-bone). The oil gland is bilobed and tufted.
    Turacos and Plantain Eaters are brightly colored. Most turacos are green with varying blue, purple or yellow. They have a unique green pigment turacoverdin in their feathers (it is a true copper-based pigment and is water-soluble) - in all other birds, green is a structural color. Their wings contain a red pignent, turacin. Both pigments are unique. All species have crest feathers and bright patterns on the head. Go-away-birds are grey and plantain-eaters are brown and white.
   Turacos live in small family groups in the canopy. They are active climbers and move with great agility from branch to branch. They come to the ground only to bathe or drink. Go-away birds spend more time in the outer foliage and are less agile (but are stronger fliers). They live from lowland to montane forests including gallery and riverine woodlands. They may also be found in wooded gardens. Turacos favor dense rain forests but the others live in open savannas or grasslands. 
   They feed on fruits (parasol and waterberry fruits plus olives, figs, guavas, etc.), leaves, buds, flowers, and occasionaly insects and other invertebrates such as slugs and snails. One species eats the highly toxic fruits of Bushman's Poison. Go-away birds also eat Acacia leaves and seeds, Aloe flowers and other blossoms are also ingested. One species joins mixed-species flocks following ant swarms.
   Most species have several notes. Pairs sing duets, Go-away birds are named for saying their name repeatedly on a rising scale.
   Monogamous (some Go-away birds have helpers). They build a flimsy platform nest high in the foliage of the canopy. Go-away birds nest in branches of trees or bushes. Turacos lay 2 eggs, go-away birds lay 3. Both parents incubate (16-18 days in the smaller species, 30 days or more in larger birds). Young are covered with blackish down. A few have a short wing claw. Young are fed at the nest for several weeks and up to 3 months after leaving the nest.  
  Turaco   Great Blue Touracou
 

Probably Knysna Turaco, Touraco corythaix

 
   
Woodcuts from Brehms Tierleben, 1892
      Great Blue Turaco, Corythaeola cristata