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Fischer's Turaco

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Is the Fischer's Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Tauraco fischeri

The basics:
The Fischer's Turaco is an uncommon green turaco in aviculture, and it also faces an uncertain future in the wild, where its small population is threatened by land clearance. Because of their perilous position both in the wild and in captivity, the Fischer's Turaco is strongly recommended only to breeders who have the space and financial resources to work with others for the preservation of the species.

There are two subspecies of Fischer's Turaco. The nominate subspecies, T. f. fischeri, is found in coastal eastern Africa from Somalia to northeast Tanzania, although it may be vanishing from Somalia. The only known island turaco of any species is the other subspecies, T. f. zanzibaricus, which is a vanishing resident of the island of Zanzibar. Both subspecies are highly vulnerable to the lowland forest being cut down to clear land for agriculture. The forests used by the Somalia population have been at least 80% cleared and may be virtually gone by now, which would mean the species is well on the way to being extirpated there.

Appearance:
Fischer's Turaco is easily identified when compared to the other green turacos, because they have a rounded crest which is green at the base, broadly banded in red in the center, and then tipped with a narrow band of black, finished off with a narrow band of snow white. The red color also extends down the nape of the neck.

Weight:
227 - 283 grams (8 - 10 oz.)

Average size:
40 centimeters (15.7 in.)

Lifespan:
15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Although the active and confident Fischer's Turaco makes a fine display in a mixed species planted aviary, they should probably be paired wherever possible to work toward preservation of the species in aviculture. They have proved more difficult to breed than some of the other species, with the first known United States captive breeding reported as recently as 1991. It is always wise to be on the watch for aggression against a potential mate.

Housing:
Fischer's Turacos need relatively large, well-planted aviaries to feel secure. They are not powerful fliers. To encourage them to hop from branch to branch, both to get exercise and to show off the flashing wings, place plenty of perches at the appropriate height, being aware that this species prefers to stay off the ground.

It's generally considered wise to give your Fischer's pair the best chance of success by providing it with its own well-planted personal aviary. One successful green turaco breeder has pointed out that you should supply lots of vegetation and a number of sheltered hiding places, to give a harried bird a chance to escape aggression from an overly dominant mate. The nest platform should be placed in a rather dark, hidden corner, where the pair can feel secure. It should be deep enough to stop the baby birds from jostling each other out of the nest.

When planning your aviary or flight, incorporate ideas that make it easy to clean. Like all fruit-eaters, Fischer's Turacos can be a little on the messy side.

Diet:
Fischer's Turaco's fruit-based diet should be offered on feeding platforms raised off the floor of the aviary. For non-breeding birds, the amount of fruit and other vegetable food in the diet is staggering – often around 85% of the diet. The chopped salad should be mostly cubed fruits such as apples, bananas, pears, papaya, grapes, and so on, combined with plenty of chopped greens and some chopped carrot. Because of the risk of iron storage disease, it is highly advisable to choose a low iron softbill pellet and to avoid offering any citrus-based fruit. (Citric acid found in oranges, tangerines, pineapples, and tomatoes may help the body retain iron, a bad thing in this species.) Some breeders offer live food to their green turacos during the nesting season, but others state that their birds will not accept it.

Fischer's Turacos love to bathe, and the aviary should probably have a shallow pond or bathing dish as well as a water dish.

Written by Elaine Radford

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