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Lady Ross's Turaco

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Is the Lady Ross's Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Ross's Turaco

Scientific name: Musophaga rossae

The basics:
The Lady Ross's Turaco is a splendid purple turaco admired for being a reliable breeder with a long reproductive life that shows beautifully in a well-planted aviary. This large bird is recommended to serious bird owners with plenty of room and resources to meet their needs. This turaco has a rather large range in the forests of central Africa.

Appearance:
If you have a purple turaco with a fine red crest that stands up erect, then you have a Lady Ross's Turaco; its relative, the Violaceous Turaco, has a red cap that does not stand up and seems to run down the back of its neck. If you're still in doubt for some reason, note that the Violaceous has red around the eye, where the Lady Ross's has yellow.

Weight:
390 - 440 grams (14 - 15.5 oz.)

Average size:
51 - 54 centimeters (20 - 21 in.)

Lifespan:
25 years

Behavior / temperament:
Baby Lady Ross's Turacos can be hand-fed by humans or fostered by more common species of turacos including Schalow's Turaco and White-cheeked Turaco. Once a good pair goes to work, they can become very steady breeders with a long reproductive lifespan. At least one Lady Ross's female was still breeding successfully at age 24.

Housing:
The Lady Ross's Turaco needs 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 Lady Ross's pair the best chance of success by providing it with its own well-planted personal aviary. One successful 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.

Lady Ross's Turacos are somewhat versatile. For example, one pair was described as breeding in a huge, heavily visited multi-species exhibit complete with a two-tiered waterfall. However, another breeder enjoyed success by giving its pair its own aviary, of modest dimensions of 10 feet by 11 feet by 10 feet tall. As long as the aviaries were thickly planted with shrubs and even trees, the pair in question felt secure enough to reproduce.

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

Diet:
The Lady Ross'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.

Lady Ross'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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