Species group: Turacos
Other common names: N/A
Scientific name: Tauraco leucotis
The White-cheeked Turaco is the most popular, widely bred turaco in the United Kingdom, and it is among the most popular in the United States. These birds must be sexed by DNA. Because of the cost of food and the requirement for a generous aviary, no turaco can be recommended to beginning bird owners on a tight budget. A hand-fed White-cheek can, however, make a fine pet for the well-heeled owner who can meet its needs. This species is suggested as a good choice for the first-time turaco breeder. White-cheeks have even been used as foster parents to rare turaco species.
Its relative, Hartlaub's Turaco, T. hartlaubi, is sometimes encountered in aviculture and was apparently at one time the most common turaco encountered in the United States, but it lost its popularity when it became clear that both the White-cheeked and the Red-crested Turaco are more reliable breeders. To distinguish Hartlaub's from the White-cheeked, look closely at the face.
The two subspecies of White-cheeked Turacos are high elevation forest birds of the eastern African nations of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan, but they are separated by the Rift Valley.
The exotic-looking White-cheeked Turaco is a green bird with a black crest, a white spot in front of the eye, and a vertical white cheek mark. Like other turacos, the wings show a wonderful flash of crimson when the bird flies. A cinnamon mutation has appeared in England. Note that its lookalike cousin, Hartlaub's Turaco, has a narrow, horizontal white cheek patch.
200 - 315 grams (7 - 11 oz.)
42 - 43 centimeters (16.5 - 17 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
Although all turacos should be given their own aviary for the breeding season, and they should be monitored to make sure that mates are not squabbling, the White-cheeked Turaco has a good reputation for being a fairly amiable bird that breeds reliably and is willing to foster the young of other species.
Many domestic-bred White-cheeked 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 White-cheeked 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.
White-cheeked Turacos breed most securely in a large, well-planted aviary that they do not have to share with any other birds. Sure, bigger may be better – but not if it tempts you to crowd the flight with a different species. A breeder from the United Kingdom suggests that the flight be at least 12 feet deep. They are escape artists, so make sure you secure your aviary properly with double doors.
When planning your aviary or flight, incorporate ideas that make it easy to clean. Like all fruit-eaters, White-cheeked Turacos can be a little on the messy side. Also, while you should certainly shelter these birds from frost, it is crucial to protect them from extremes of heat. Escapees have survived for at least two years in the U.K. -- which suggests that they are very hardy as long as they are never allowed to get too hot or too cold.
The White-cheeked 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 White-cheeked Turacos during the nesting season, but others state that their birds will not accept it.
White cheeked 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
frequent poops, outdoor aviary
big wing span, fruit diet, heated area
Amazing birds that need a large aviary
Dougal the white-cheeked turaco was a rescue that I worked with for five years, before she (yes, we didn't know the sex when we named her and by then she responded to it) passed away. When she was rescued she was being kept in an indoor parrot cage as a pet. This was completely unsuitable for her.
Turaco's have a big wing span, they like to fly and they love to jump. Dougal would bounce around the house when let out, but this would invariably knock everything down and create a mess. On top of that, sorry to be crass, but they have large, wet, smelly, frequent poops, because of their fruit diet. Definitely not what you want in a house pet that's swooping across your living room. She also had a very loud cry - although not as harsh as a parrot.
When I got Dougal I put her into an outdoor aviary that was 10 ft by 8 ft by 8ft long, with an additional 6ft shed for the heated area - because in the winter in the UK it would be too cold for her to sleep out at night. She was a joy to own, always active, very intelligent and inquisitive. She loved parrot toys and mirrors, she responded to her name, would perch and hand feed. She was gentle with other birds; and since I sadly could not find a mate for her (they're quite a rare species), she ended up cohabiting with a group of zebra finches, who would often cuddle up to her.
And of course, they are are absolutely stunning birds - a crazy amount of colours, with feathers that shine all the colours of the rainbow when they sit in the sun.
Unfortunately Dougal passed away in 2014. I am really glad I got the opportunity to work with her and if you have a really large aviary and a lot of time to give to a bird, they are an amazing species. On the whole though, I think that they are more suited to serious bird enthusiasts or zoos than pets - and are absolutely not a suitable house animal..
From Athravan Jun 15 2015 4:59AM