Hartlaub's Turaco

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Doug Janson

Is the Hartlaub's Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Tauraco hartlaubi

The basics:
In the 1970s, the Hartlaub's Turaco may have been the most common turaco in the United States, but it has lost ground to other species that proved to be more reliable breeders. This dark-crested bird has been described as “nervous” and “flighty,” and it should probably be reserved for experienced breeders who have worked with other turaco species. A close relative, the White-cheeked Turaco, is the number one or number two most popular turaco in aviculture.

Hartlaub's Turaco is considered the common mountain turaco of east Africa, including Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. At one time, it was reportedly imported in quite large numbers into the United States, probably in such numbers that it wasn't considered worth the trouble of breeding, since it appears that aviculturists didn't really grasp how difficult it would be to reproduce in captivity until Kenya closed the door to legal exports. The population is decreasing because of the destruction of the mountain forests in these developing nations.

Look closely at the face to distinguish between Hartlaub's and its more popular cousin, the White-cheeked Turaco. Hartlaub's has a narrow, horizontal white cheek patch, as opposed to the White-cheek's much more pronounced vertical white cheek patch.

195 - 275 grams (7 - 10 oz.)

Average size:
40 - 43 centimeters (15.7 - 16.9 in.)

15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Hartlaub's Turacos have been challenging to breed, often because the male attacks the female. The opposite case where a female, especially an older female, has attacked the male, has also occurred. You will want to bring all of your powers of observation to this species, as well as providing a spacious, well-planted aviary that gives any chased bird the best opportunity to get away. If you observe a problem, you may need to separate the birds and try to introduce them again slowly at another time, perhaps by keeping them in side by side flights where they can observe and get to know each other for awhile before being placed together.

As a species that is considered to be more sensitive than some of the more popular turacos, the Hartlaub's Turaco should be given its own private, well-planted aviary if you expect the birds to breed. Watch for aggression between mates, but do not be overly intrusive, or you may cause the pair to abandon the nesting effort.

When planning your aviary or flight, incorporate ideas that make it easy to clean. Like all fruit-eaters, Hartlaub's Turacos can be a little on the messy side. Also, while you should certainly shelter these birds from frost, it is crucial to protect them from extremes of heat, since they are a mountain species that can't tolerate extremely high temperatures.

The Hartlaub'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 – 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 Hartlaub's during the nesting season, but others state that their birds will not accept it.

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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