The family of Musopbagidae is comprised of touracos, Plantain-eaters and Go-away Birds which are native only to Africa. There are 20 different species in this group. Most species can be acquired in American aviculture. The family of touracos must be surgically sexed to guarantee that one has a true pair. Most bright colors in birds are produced physically by refraction from microscopic feather structures, however, the greens and reds of the touracos are true pigments. The rich red pigments are called turacin and the greens, turacoverdin. In museum specimens, the red deepens with age, for the copper in turacin darkens as it slowly oxidizes.

Touracos can be kept with many different species of birds. The more planted and larger the aviary, the more species you can put in it. It is not wise to put two different pairs of touracos in the same aviary. The touracos love to run along the perch and when gliding from limb to limb, one can see the full splendor of their crimson red wings. If you look close enough, you'll observe that they can direct their outer toe either backward or forward as do owls and ospreys. Touracos in the wild are found from sea level to as high as 11,000 feet. They are known to be hardy and can withstand cool temperatures.

The diet of a touraco consists of diced papaya, canteloupes, grapes, Mexican bananas, figs, apples, guavas, ripe mangoes and berries. This


group is also known to eat leaf matter, so finely grated broccoli sprinkled into the mix of fruit will be enjoyed. Dog pellets (bite sized) can also be given. A pinch or two of calcium mixed into the fruit mix should be given every day because very little or no calcium will cause eggs to be laid without their outer shells. Vitamin powder should be added two to three times a week as well.

The touraco family is known to have one to three (usually two) off-white eggs. They are laid at two day intervals. Both parents share duties in the incubation of the eggs and in the feeding of the young. The shortest incubation period for touracos (Hartlaub's) is 20 days and the longest period in this family is 31 days for the Great Blue Touraco which is the largest of all the touracos. In the wild, these birds nest on a platform made up of sticks which is lined with twigs. In American aviculture, there are many different nests that can be suitable for the touracos. First, a good size wicker basket and/ or a wooden box, one foot in diameter and at least four inches deep (to ensure the eggs cannot fall out), can be used. The box should be lined with

sticks, twigs and dried grass. Lining of ---------------the box is very essential to the survival

of the babies, because they have been

known to develop spradle legs with-

out it. The nest should be placed as

high in the aviary as possible to guar-

antee the birds will feel secure. When

the young hatch, their eyes are already


open and they are covered with a black down. When the young reach the age of around ten days, their bill darkens and the egg tooth is shed. They develop very rapidly and, surprisingly, leave the nest before they are fully fledged.

Great Blue Touraco (Corythaeola cristata)

This large, beautiful bird lives in the rainforests and gallery forests from Guinea, Sudan, Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola.

The Great Blue has not been reared in American aviculture because there is a very limited number of birds kept here. This bird needs a lot of care and may be suitable only for the more experienced touraco breeder.

Lady Ross's Touraco (Musophaga rossae)

This touraco is indigenous to Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. This species also occurs in small areas of the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

This species was bred for the first time in the U.S. at the Houston Zoo in 1979. This species is becoming difficult to acquire. Those in captivity are, however, reproducing more consistently.

Violacious Plantain-eater (Musophaga violacea)

This bird lives in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Nigeria. It also occurs south to the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The Violet Plantain-eater was first bred in 1985 at the Brookfield Zoo. This mostly glossy, blue bird is fairly common but can become quite flighty in your aviary.

Purple-crested Touraco (Musopbaga porphyreolopha) The range of this bird is from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and eastern South Africa.

The Purple-crested Touraco was first bred in 1979 at the Houston Zoo. These birds can now be acquired by the private breeder but they are often

 difficult to find. Very few are imported.



C. Hilary Fry, Stuart Keith and Emil K. Urban, 1988, The Birds of Africa, Volume 3.

Austin, O.L., 1961, Birds of the world, Golden Press, New York.

Lindholm III, J.H., 1987, Touraco propagation in zoos, (the lZY Breeding Records; 1959-1981) Honeycreeper II (No. 1) 15-22.

Berry T. Robert, 1979, Touracos, the AFA Watchbird, Vol. vi, No. 4.e