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Violaceous Turaco

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Is the Violaceous Turaco right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Violet Turaco

Scientific name: Musophaga violacea

The basics:
The Violaceous Turaco is a splendid purple turaco that has continued to gain admirers since it was first bred in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1984. Like all turacos, it shows best in an aviary that allows it to leap and to fly, so that observers can enjoy the crimson flash of the beautiful wings. This species appears to be a reliable breeder, and it can be recommended to the serious aviculturist with plenty of room and some experience with other turacos or softbills.This turaco is a common breeder in the tall trees of mature forests in west Africa. It can be surprisingly difficult to see until it flies, flashing its wings, but its loud call makes the bird known throughout the forest.

Appearance:
The Violaceous Turaco is virtually crestless compared to the other turacos, but you don't feel that anything is missing when you consider the handsome red crown with the scarlet feathers running some way down the nape of the neck. If you have a purple turaco with a fine red crest that stands up erect, then you have a Lady Ross's Turaco, a close relative. If you're still in doubt for some reason, note that the Violaceous has red around the eye, while Lady Ross's has yellow around the eye.

Weight:
350 - 375 grams (12 - 13 oz.)

Average size:
50 centimeters (20 in.)

Lifespan:
20 years

Behavior / temperament:
The Violaceous Turaco can be aggressive during the breeding season, both toward other species and even toward its own mate. A good aviary design and an observant owner are required to keep everybody safe and happy. The nest may look flimsy, but don't intrude, or the babies may be tossed. Despite the chance of aggression, some breeders have allowed older siblings to remain in a sufficiently large aviary with their parents, where the youngsters have been observed trying to assist at the nest. If you wish to allow cooperative breeding, be prepared to keep a discreet but cautious eye on the proceedings. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to install a security camera to monitor the action.

Housing:
Violaceous Turacos 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 Violaceous Turaco pair the best chance of success by providing it with its own well-planted personal aviary. One successful green 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.

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

Diet:
The Violaceous 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.

Violaceous 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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