Turaco, Violet


Musophaga violacea


The violet Turaco has a red bill, yellow forehead, bluish-violet body, and crimson head. They are approximately 30 inches in length and weigh approximately one pound.

Family

Musophagidae

Order

Musophagiformes

Class

Aves

Range

Central and Southern Africa

Habitat

Evergreen forests and wooded valleys

Life Expectancy

In the wild, 5 to 10 years. In captivity, up to 30 years.

Sexual Maturity

Approximately 1 year of age

Diet

In the wild, mostly fruit and occasionally invertebrates. In the zoo, commercially prepared scientific bird feed, fruit, mealworms, and crickets.

Status

IUCN - Least Concern

Behaviors

The violet turaco is a social bird often found in flocks of ten to twelve, however they nest solitarily. They are arboreal, spending almost all of their time foraging in trees. Their diet consists mainly of fruits and occasionally invertebrates. When feeding, they often drop their food, contributing to seed dispersal. Breeding occurs during the rainy season when monogamous pairs join together. Nests are shallow, fragile, and built out of small twigs. Clutch size is typically two to three eggs and incubation lasts 21 to 24 days. Both parents participate in incubation, brooding, and feeding. After hatching, the chicks are covered in a thick down and take about one year to develop full coloration. Chicks will leave the nest approximately ten to twelve days after hatching.

Adaptions

Despite their bright colors, violet turacos blend very well into foliage. The fourth toe is set at right angles to the foot and can be used forward or backward. This assists in their tree climbing activities. If caught, they have the ability to “release” their feathers allowing them to escape.

Special Interests

Unlike most birds, the bright colors of the turaco’s feathers are true pigments. In other birds, the bright colors are due to the refraction of light by feather structures. Another common name for turacos is “plantain eater”, however they do not actually eat these fruits.

Folklore

Conservation

Intensive work toward habitat conservation is incorporated in the BirdLife International Kilum Mountain Forest Project, based in Oku and launched in 1987. A second project, the Ijim Mountain Forest Project based in Kom, the area adjacent to Oku was established in 1992. The aim of these projects is to secure the future of the endemic bird species of Mount Oku. By working with the local population conservationists hope to ensure that the use of the forest and its surroundings is sustainable. Traditional leaders, a representative from the Government Ministry of Environment and Forests, and project staff have established boundaries to the forest. Farmers have been offered alternatives to forest clearance, the use of fire to burn debris from fallow land and the subsequent soil erosion on steep land. One of these alternatives is bee keeping; the honey produced brings a good price at local markets, and plentiful honey requires a healthy forest. BirdLife is now working with the Ministry of Environment and Forests to create the first Community Forest in Cameroon, the Kilum/Ijim Community Forest. Forest users will be empowered through a system of recognized user groups, each with an agreed management plan for separate sections of the forest. Close monitoring of the flora and fauna will be part of these management plans to check that it is sustainable, and that it is not adversely affecting the endemic birds of the area.

Jacksonville Zoo History

The voilet Turaco first arrived at the Jacksonville Zoo in August 1989 and has successfully reproduced here.

Exhibit

Ruzizi Streambank Exhibit