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.

It may then also appear as a FAQ.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Lost and found:

Incubation of eggs:

Publications:

Aviaries:

Feeding:

Organizations:

Ringing:

Sales:

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 touracos 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 are 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 two males (handreared by someone else), who attack 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. I am currently handrearing two White-cheeks as it is too cold and too short daylight for them to be reared outside now.

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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 am 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 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 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
    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
  • I believe someone in Kenya is in the process of writing a book about turacos at the moment.
  • There are many articles about turacos in the International Turaco Society magazines, see: http://www.turacos.org/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 do you use to feed your adult turacos?

Answer: You will need to adjust depending on how many you are feeding.

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: Do you sex your turacos and if so, who do you 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: Do you ring your turacos and if so, what do you use and where do you 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. Is there an organization dedicated to turacos?

Answer: Yes. 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 am the Chairman and manage its website, which can be found at: http://www.turacos.org/
If you wish to join or renew, then on the Home page click 'MEMBERS' and then '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 'Family' section of your website?
Answer: The 'Family' section of my website contains only photographs of family and friends and would be of no interest to anyone else. If you are a member of my family, or close friend, then ask me for the password by e-mail or telephone.

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FAQ 3: What branches do you 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: Can you export turacos to people outside the U.K.?

Answer: Yes.

To countries in the European Union is fairly easy. I am registered with DEFRA in accordance with Article 4 of Council Directive 92/65 with a registered holding number and can export turacos with a self-certificate confirming their good health. Costs incurred will include a charge for the crate of about £10 to £15, about £50 diesel to get to Heathrow and back, about £150 to £200 freight to an EU country (so long as you don't use BA as they charge about three times this) and probably a charge at your end to collect the birds. For example two pairs to Spain incurred a charge of about £8 on collection. (Note: Incoming to the UK are very heavily charged! I had to pay £193 to collect two pairs of turacos from France just to pay for the birds to be taken off the plane and have the airport vet look at them to see if they were still alive. It took them four hours to do it too!)

However, to countries outside the EU is not so easy. It is a rather expensive process and takes quite some time to obtain the necessary paperwork. For example I exchanged ten turacos with a breeder in South Africa. The turacos had to be close rung and we both had to get export and import CITES licences. I had to get an Export Health Certificate and quarantine facilities arranged. I also had to produce documentation to show that my birds that I was exporting, had not been imported from elsewhere. It took six months to obtain the correct paperwork. It cost me £70 Vet and certificate fees, £10 license fees, £497 freight from Heathrow to Johannesburg, £490 agents fees to import (Customs clearance in Brussels) and £560 to quarantine the birds here. The breeder I exchanged with paid his costs the other way around, although things were rather cheaper in South Africa.

I would hope that it would not take so long next time, now that I am known at DEFRA. (See below.) The regulations may well be different in different countries, so you would need to check exactly what is needed.

To export to the U.S.A. it is harder still. I include a reply I got from Jan Trader in Virginia:

"To answer any questions you might have about shipping birds into the US....They would not be able to import into the US unless they were part of a cooperative breeding program for turacos. The only ones that would not need to be, would be the Lady Ross and Go-away Birds. Everything else would have to go through the co-op. ET and I are head coordinators of this breeding program with Fish and Wildlife. Unfortunately Black-billed are not on the approved list for us at this time. I am hoping to get them added."

Added by Jan on 12th February 2010: "Unless you are a Certified USDA Importer even the Lady Ross are more involved than just a health certificate and shipping. You have to have an Import/Export Permit through the Dept. of Interior out of New York, a Broker who picks them up at the Airport and takes them to USDA quarantine (where they have to stay 30 days), a Fish and Wildlife Inspector who inspects the shipment when it arrives and transportation for the birds to USDA quarantine. Your best bet would be to go through an Importer such as Penguin International to get Lady Ross. You cannot import the Great Blues legally into the US unless you are part of the Touraco Co-op or a Zoo."

I asked someone in Israel the following question: How easy or difficult is it to import / export turacos in Israel? What species are available in Israel?

His reply: "Turaco raising in Israel is in its infancy. Not too many are interested or aware of these lovely birds. Public education is needed. I know of several Hartlaub's, along with different types of green in a few local zoos. 2-3 White and Red-crested have been spotted as well.

There is a process for import / export you have to go through, like any other 'civilized' country with a beurocratic maze, but it is fairly quick."

(From above.) As I had hoped, I applied for CITES export licences to send Schalow's and Purple-crested Turacos to America (to the co-op) and got the licences within only a few weeks.

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FAQ 1: What turacos do you have available for sale and at what price?

Answer: Please refer to my sales page, which I keep as up-to-date as I can.

Click on this link: For sale

Click 'Back' to return to this page.

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