Frequently Asked Questions

To ask a new question, or for more details about an existing one, please contact me by e-mail. When I receive your question, I will answer it (if I am able to) as soon as possible. I may need to consult someone else first, or forward your question on to someone else to answer.

Your question may then also appear as a FAQ.

Contact:david@turacos.org

Frequently Asked Questions:

Lost and found:

Incubation of turaco eggs:

Publications:

Aviaries:

Feeding:

Membership:

Ringing:

Pets:

Sexing:

Website:

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FAQ 19: I have seen a bird in my garden which I think is a turaco. Is this likely to be an escaped bird and is there somewhere to report that I have seen it?

Answer: Although turacos are not native to the UK, a number are living 'wild', having escaped from a collection somewhere. They are usually White-cheeked, but a few Violaceous have been spotted and any species kept in captivity could potentially escape from its flight. To identify the turaco have a look at the pictures on the I.T.S. species page. As for where he/she has come from a good point of contact is John Hayward on 01869 325699, e-mail , who co-ordinates a national register of lost and stolen birds. He will pass the information on to Cage & Aviary Birds, a weekly newspaper.

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FAQ 18: I need to incubate some White-cheeked Turaco eggs.
My Questions:
1. What temperature and humidity settings should I use?
2. I have a Grumbach incubator. Is it any good for hatching turacos?

Answer: The incubation settings for White-cheeked Turacos and all the other similar species of turaco should be a temperature of 37c to 37.25c with a wet bulb reading of 29c to 29.25c which = 55% relative humidity.
The best way of knowing if the humidity is correct for each individual egg is to weigh the egg on the day of laying and it should lose 16% up to the 19th day. Often if the female has laid 2 or more clutches the eggshells are thinner and the eggs will require a higher humidity. The parents instinctively regulate this.
Turning is critical and the incubator should be set to turn the eggs automatically at least once an hour until each egg has reached 16 days of incubation.
I understand that Grumbach incubators are very good forced air incubators which are expensive, with digital temperature and humidity display and electronic humidity control.

Egg incubation helpline: Nick Manning Tel: (UK) 01244 379915

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FAQ 17: One of my Livingstone's Turacos is being chased by other turacos, and a few days ago I found him/her with torn feathers on his back and neck and a bald head with some bleeding spots. I separated him from the group for a few days and then tried mixing them together, which resulted in an immediate aggressive attack. So, no choice, I had to remove him/her to a small cage out of the aviary. I know turacos can turn aggressive, but this is surprising as he and his/her mate have been together in the group for more than a year now and there was no change of diet or arrangements within the aviary.
My Questions:
1. How to deal with it? Any chance of bringing him/her back to the aviary in the hope that "time will heal wounds and animosity?"
2. What is the pace of regrowth of feathers?

Answer: Turacos are a pain for this sort of behaviour. Typically hens are attacked by the male when the male is ready to breed and the female isn't. Even pairs that have been together for many years and bred without a problem, can turn nasty to each other.
There are a few things you can try to get them back together:

  • Remove the aggressive bird and let the attacked bird recover its confidence for a few weeks before putting the attacker back.
  • Add hiding places within the aviary with food and water in some of them (where the attacked bird chooses to hide most). For example, inside, cardboard boxes can be placed upside down on the floor of the shelter with a couple of pop holes at ground level to let the turaco in and out. Drain pipes can be left on the ground outside for a bird to hide in. A couple of feeding stations behind boards high up can give a chased bird somewhere to rest and feed. Usually, when out of sight, turacos are left alone.
  • Trim the flight feathers on one wing of the aggressive bird to slow it down a little (but not in cold weather).

I would expect feathers to have regrown within six weeks, but it would depend on how badly the skin has also been damaged. A really badly damaged bird may never regrow feathers in some places.

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FAQ 16: I was thinking of getting a turaco as a pet. Can you get them hand tame? Do they make good pets?

Answer: Yes you can get turacos hand tame if handreared from an early age. However, the following pointers may be of some help:

  • Turacos are fruit eaters and their droppings tend to be very sloppy, deposited anywhere, including when in flight.
  • They need a lot of space to fly and run around in.
  • Most do not really enjoy human contact, although hand-reared ones, petted continuously, do accept and enjoy human attention.
  • Hand-reared birds can just as easily be over aggressive towards humans and with no fear of people can present a problem. I have kept two males (handreared by someone else), who attacked me at every opportunity!
  • Turacos are happier with a partner, although sometimes have to be kept alone due to aggression.

Having said all that, I know that some people do keep turacos in the house as a pet, so if you can find a tame one it is up to you.

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FAQ 15: Can turacos be kept in a mixed collection? I have various finches and softbills in a 15m x 3m x 2.5m planted aviary with a heated shed attached.

Answer: Yes.
I could end there but ...
I have kept turacos with finches, softbills (e.g. tanagers and common mynahs), waterfowl and pheasants.
However you may find that the turacos tend to disturb other birds in the flight a little at dusk. The turacos tend to keep on the move when others are trying to go to roost. I found this particularly with peacock pheasants as they went up to roost the turacos kept jumping around and over them, so the pheasants took some time to settle.

There is an article all about this matter in The International Turaco Society magazine, Issue 21: "Mixing Touracos" by Nigel Hewston.

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FAQ 14: I have been hand raising a Red-crested Turaco since it was about 2 weeks old. The bird is now about a month old. Everything was great until about a week ago. It seems to have lost the use of its legs. It tries to get up but - no way! Everything else about it is healthy. We feed it a mixture of grapes, papaya, apples and softbill pellets. It has netting on the bottom of the cage with a few sticks. Any suggestions?

Suggestion: Is it possible that your chick is overweight? Is it very bulbous underneath? If so, try to water the food down considerably for a while.
I use a mix which is mostly banana, with some papaya and some Nutribird A21. I also add some powdered cuttlefish.
Have you seen the article I wrote in Spring 2001?
(Since then I have added papaya and some probiotic.)

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FAQ 13: I have a pair of Green-crested Turacos. What sort of nest pan could I use as a base for a nest? Any help would be very helpful as I would really like these birds to breed.

Answer: Turacos are not fussy about where they nest. They will happily deposit an egg in anything remotely nest-like. I have used old desk drawers, fruit crates, bicycle baskets and have even picked eggs off the feeding tray! I saw a White-cheeked sitting in a cardboard box at a friend's collection recently. It is sensible to position nests high in the aviary under cover, so that they stay dry.
I like wicker baskets such as the ones shown in the pictures below, which I purchased from Osmond Hartley at the Wholesale Fruit Market in Bristol. I am sure that baskets of this sort can be purchased all over the place. Dry thin twigs and clean straw can be provided as nest material. Give them plenty because if chicks hatch in a nest with a smooth internal base and no nest material available then the chicks may become splay-legged.

Click to enlarge and then click 'Back' to return here.

Click to enlarge and then click 'Back' to return here.

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FAQ 12: I am interested in starting to keep turacos. Can you advise on the best species to start with and what would be the ideal aviary size for a pair to breed?

Answer: In my opinion, the best turaco species to start with is the White-cheeked Turaco (leucotis). This species seems to be fairly hardy and less susceptible to disease. They are usually not aggressive to each other and breed readily.
The larger the aviary, the better, but 10ft long x 8ft wide x 8ft tall would be about the smallest I would suggest. A narrower aviary can be used so long as they have sufficient extra distance to move from one end to the other. Perches at either end, with a gap in between, will encourage the birds to fly.

Pair of White-cheeked Turacos

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FAQ 11: What is within the Members only section of this website?

Answer: At the moment the 'members only' section contains:

  • A form to be completed if you are a member and wish to advertise turacos for sale or wanted
  • The minutes from AGM and committee meetings
  • Details of and links to, committee members
  • A link to an African Bird Club magazine which sometimes includes articles on turacos
  • Members' news and a form to enter interesting comments about your turacos
  • A list of numbers of members and which countries they come from
  • Members' personal details (by request only)
  • One extract from each of the I.T.S. Magazines
  • Our Constitution
  • Bibliography of articles from I.T.S. magazines
  • Keeping turacos - husbandry guidelines
  • Egg Helpline

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FAQ 10: Do you know of any publications about turacos?

Answer: I have recently found a number of books about turacos, or which include turacos:

  • "Turacos: A Natural History of the Musophagidae" by Joseph M. Forshaw and William T. Cooper Price: A$ 230.00 (£98.67) available from Bookseller: Andrew Isles Natural History Books (Note: This edition has been available from them at a reduced price since this original answer.)
    E-mail: books@AndrewIsles.com
    Phone: 61 3 9510 5750
    Address: Rear of 115 Greville Street, Prahran, VIC, Australia, 3181
  • "Working Bibliography of Cuckoos and Turacos of the World" by Johannes Erritzoe and Oscar van Rootselaar (Note, this is literally a bibliography.) - Price: £53 available from NHBS LTD., Mailorder Bookstore, 2-3 Wills Road, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5XN, UK
    Tel: 01803 (+44 1803) 865913
    Fax: 01803 (+44 1803) 865280
    E-mail: sales@nhbs.co.uk
  • "Turacos: A Portfolio of All Species" by Joseph M. Forshaw and William T. Cooper - Price £1895.00 (Yes you read it right!) available from NHBS LTD. (see above)
  • "Softbills Care, Breeding and Conservation" a book with a chapter devoted to turacos by Martin Vince published by Hancock House - ISBN: 0-88839-393-8 cost: $24.95 USA, $34.95 CAN, £18.95 UK. available from www.amazon.co.uk
  • There are many articles about turacos in the International Turaco Society magazines, see: magazine.html

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FAQ 9: Would you advise adding vitamin supplements when rearing turaco chicks? If so, what would you use and where would you get it?

Answer: When birds are rearing young in the nest I sprinkle 'Nutribird' A21 handrearing formula over their normal diet, a teaspoon per chick. 'Nutribird' can be ordered from Junglegold over the phone on 01953 452321, or from their webshop at http://junglegoldlimited.com .

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FAQ 8: What diet can I feed to adult turacos?

Answer: There seem to be as many ways to feed turacos as there are who keep them.

Personally I feed about 80 adult turacos.

My diet can be seen at:

http://www.turacos.co.uk/articlefeeding.htm - here

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FAQ 7: I want to sex my turacos. Who can I use?

Answer: I usually sex my young turacos when they reach full size. I pull a few breast feathers and send them to Avian Biotech International in little bags they supply. Ring them on: 01726 247788 or e-mail them at: abi-uk@btconnect.com

Animal Genetics UK, 1 Mount Charles Road, St Austell, Cornwall, PL25 3LB, UK.

Website: http://www.avianbiotech.co.uk

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FAQ 6: What rings are suitable for turacos and where can I get them from?

Answer: I ring all my young turacos at about 3 weeks old as they are leaving the nest with aluminium closed rings, individually numbered and with my initials added, size 'S' for White-cheeked, Hartlaub's, Black-billed, Fischer's, Schalow's, Red-crested, Purple-crested and Green-crested Turacos; size 'T' for Violaceous and Lady Ross.

I use split plastic coloured rings to mark adult birds, size 2FB, so that I can identify individuals from a distance.

I get my rings from A.C. Hughes Ltd., 1 High Street, Hampton Hill, Middlesex, TW12 1NA:

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FAQ 5: I am interested in turacos. Please tell me something about the International Turaco Society and how I can join.

Answer: The International Turaco Society is dedicated to the keeping and breeding of Turacos in aviculture and the collection and dissemination of information on the wild Turaco family in Africa.

I (David Jones) am the Chairman and manage this website.
If you wish to join or renew, then on the menu above click Membership - 'Join / Renew'.
Under 'So how do I join or renew?':

Click here to bring up an application / renewal form. This can be printed out and sent to the address shown on the form together with your payment.
Click here to apply / renew on line and post your payment.
Click here to apply / renew on line and pay on line.

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FAQ 4: What is the password for the 'Members' section of this website?

Answer: When you become a member, or renew your membership, I will let you know the current password to access the Members' only section of this website. The password is changed each year on 1st January.

If you are a member, but have not received, or have forgotten the password, then please contact me stating your name and address:

Contact: david@turacos.org

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FAQ 3: What branches can I use for perches and what plants can safely be used in outside turaco flights?

Answer: Personally I use Hazel branches for perching because I have plenty of them around my garden.

The following list of plants is I believe safe to use in aviaries:
Abies Fir
Albizzia
Apple Tree
Blue Spruce
Butterfly Bush
Callistemon, Bottle Brush
Camellia
Carob Tree
Catalpa speciosa
Chinese Pistache
Crape Myrtle
Crataegus
Douglas Fir
Eucaluptus, except Eucalyptus globulus = minor toxicity
Forsythia
Fuchsia
Gardenia
Hawthorne
Hemlock Tree
Hibiscus
Honey Locust
Lilac
Liquidambar
Magnolia Stellata
Manzanita
Mock Orange, species Philadelphus and Pittosporum tobira
Mountain Ash
Mulberry, Morus
Plane Tree
Pseudotsuga Fir
Purple Passion Vine, Gynura aurantiaca
Radermachera
Red Bud
Snowball Bush
Spirea
Sycamore
Weigelia
Xylosma

And I am sure there are many others!

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FAQ 2: I was wondering whether you can keep turacos outside in the winter months, even when it is really cold.

Answer: Preferably they need to be kept above freezing. However, a turaco which is acclimatised to the cold can cope with a few degrees of frost. Their body tends to be ok, but they can get frostbite in the toes and then lose them. A wider timber perch to roost on is better than a narrow one with their toes curled round underneath. Some species are hardier than others. In my experience, White-cheeked are the hardiest of the species I have kept and Fischer's are the least hardy.

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FAQ 1: I have acquired a pair of White-crested Turacos and wanted to know if I need to change anything in the way I look after them, compared to the White-cheeked I have already.

Answer: Diet and housing are much the same, except that White-crested are not as hardy as White-cheeked, so would be better shut in with a little background heat if possible when it is cold. White-cheeked seem to love to sit out in the frost!

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