Red-crested Turaco

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Is the Red-crested Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Angolan Turaco

Scientific name: Tauraco erythrolophus

The basics:
The Red-crested Turaco is one of the most popular turaco species in aviculture, since it's a reliable breeder that gets along well with non-competing birds in large mixed-species planted aviaries. As a bird of the forest, this turaco has an important job eating fruit and passing the seed, allowing the fruiting trees to reproduce and spread. Alas, when it finds itself eating orchard fruit instead, it may be persecuted as a crop pest. This beautiful species is endemic to Angola.

The Red-crested Turaco is a long-tailed green bird with a white face, red crest, and yellow bill. While the endangered Bannerman's Turaco is similar, you would be unlikely to encounter this vanishing high altitude species in aviculture. If for some reason you are still in doubt, check the bill. The Red-crested has an all-yellow bill, while Bannerman's has a bright red stripe at the top of the upper bill. Males and females look alike, so these birds must be sexed by DNA.

210 - 325 grams (7.4 - 11.5 oz.)

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

15 years

Behavior / temperament:
Red-crested Turacos have a fine reputation overall for being reliable breeders. Like any turaco, they can be somewhat aggressive during the breeding season. Use caution when introducing potential pairs, because there are a few known cases of aggressive behavior toward a potential mate. A well-planted, well-designed aviary with plenty of vegetation and cover goes a long way toward giving the less aggressive bird a reasonable chance to get away.

Many domestic-bred Red-crested Turacos have been handfed by humans. If keepers don't take precautions to avoid imprinting, such babies can become extremely tame. However, even if you hold a single pet, you will still wish to offer a large aviary that encourages flight, because these beautiful birds simply don't show as well if you never see them open their wings.

Individual pet Red-crested Turacos have been kept in the aviary with other species, and they 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.

While pairs of Red-crested Turacos have bred successfully in huge multi-species aviaries, Houston Zoo turaco experts have pointed out that they had even better success with individual small outdoor aviaries that each pair could have all to itself. For example, former curator Robert J. Berry used units 7-1/2' wide and 15' deep, with the uncovered portion standing 7' fall and the sheltered portion standing 10' tall. Sure, bigger may be better – but not if it tempts you to crowd the flight with a different species.

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

The Red-crested 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 Red-crested Turacos during the nesting season, but others state that their birds will not accept it.

Red-crested 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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