Livingstone's Turaco

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Is the Livingstone's Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Tauraco livingstonii

The basics:
Livingstone's Turaco is more rare in aviculture than the lookalike Schalow's Turaco, but it is being successfully bred in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Because of its rarity, it's usually recommended to the experienced turaco breeder who is willing to make every effort to help preserve the species through a well-planned captive breeding program.

At one time, Schalow's and Livingstone's Turacos were lumped together as two subspecies within the same species. Even today, you may notice the close relationship, because of their similar care and appearance. However, Livingstone's is a more coastal forest species, while Schalow's occurs on an upland plateau. The two species don't overlap in nature.

To distinguish between the two lookalike species, look at the crest. While Livingstone's does possess a long pointed white-tipped green crest, it is substantially shorter than Schalow's. A long Livingstone's crest is still not quite three inches, while a short Schalow's crest is a tad longer than three inches – and a long Schalow's crest could approach 4-3/4 inches. Like the other green turacos, their wings flash red when they leap and fly.

260 - 380 grams (9 - 13.4 oz.)

Average size:
45 centimeters (17.8 in.)

15 years

Behavior / temperament:
The few breeders who work with Livingstone's Turacos seem to be getting repeatable results, and Livingstone's personality seems quite similar to Schalow's. Be watchful for aggression against mates or against other species in the habitat, but if you provide a large, well-planted aviary with plenty of dark places, you can really cut down on the potential problems.

Hand-fed babies aren't afraid of humans, but they need regular interaction to stay tame. Mature adults may become aggressive.

Individual pet Livingstone's Turacos can retain their tameness as long as you take care to interact with your bird every day. Why not teach it to come to you for special treats? Both individuals and pairs 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 Livingstone's pair the best chance of success by providing it with its own well-planted personal aviary. One successful 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, Livingstone's Turacos can be a little on the messy side.

A Livingstone'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.

Livingstone'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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