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Schalow's Turaco

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Is the Schalow's Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Tauraco schalowi

The basics:
Schalow's Turaco has enjoyed periods of popularity as an aviary bird, with the first United Kingdom captive breeding in 1972, followed by the first United States captive breeding in 1975. However, by 1989, the Houston Zoo had reported a concern that all females breeding in the United States were related to their original bloodlines, and prospective breeders should network with others to avoid inbreeding. Individual pets removed from the breeding pool should be hand-fed and played with every day to keep them tame and interested in their people. They can also make attractive specimens for a large well-planted, mixed species exhibit.

Schalow's Turaco is an upland bird with a reasonably large range across many south central African nations, and it's reported to be common in some riparian forests. This species occurs from 2,000 to 8,000 feet, compared to Livingstone's Turaco, which looks very similar and is essentially the lowland version.

Appearance:
Schalow's Turaco is one of the most impressive choices in the green turaco group, thanks to its very long, pointed green crest that can stand over 4.5 inches high. The white tips to the crest provide a fine flourish.

Weight:
208 - 267 grams (7.3 - 9.4 oz.)

Average size:
41 - 40 centimeters (16 in.)

Lifespan:
15 years

Behavior / temperament:
A good pair of Schalow's Turacos can cycle reliably, breeding many babies over many years. Take time to set up a well-planted aviary that includes plenty of nooks and crannies – hiding places where a less aggressive bird can get away from a mate that is too bothersome. Handfed babies intended for pets need regular treats and playtime. Don't return them to an aviary and expect them to remain entirely tame.

Housing:
Individual pet Schalow'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.

While pairs of Schalow's Turacos have bred successfully in huge multi-species aviaries that contain non-competing species, it's generally considered wise to give your 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, Schalow's Turacos can be a little on the messy side. This species is considered hardy, but give them a fair chance, and provide a shelter that protects from extremes of heat and cold, mosquitoes, and predators. Bear in mind that this bird is an upland species, and have a way to cool down the aviary during heat advisories, as they can't tolerate too much heat.

Diet:
Schalow'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 Schalow's Turacos during the nesting season, but others state that their birds will not accept it.

Schalow'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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