Feeding Turacos at Walnut Tree Cottage

An article included in the International Turaco Society magazine no. 41 Summer 2014 – written by David Jones

Feeding about 80 Turacos

My turaco diet is a mix of dry foodstuffs with grated vegetables and chopped fruit. I use bowls, known as Coop Cup Hook bowls, 15cm diameter and 6cm depth for the food and 12cm by 5cm for the water. Helpfully, the brackets which hold these two dimensions of bowl have the holding arms at the same distance apart, so once staples have been nailed into the wood, food and water bowls are interchangeable. I have two sets of bowls, so food is prepared daily and taken around to the turacos in the morning, exchanging fresh bowls for the used ones, which are taken away, washed and used again the following day.

What I feed varies considerably in content depending on what is actually available at a reasonable price from the wholesaler I buy from. This depends on the time of year and whether they happen to have something which has ‘gone over’. Fruit they term as ‘gone over’ is usually ideal for me. For example, they sell bananas to shops when they are green or just starting to turn yellow. Once they have gone yellow they are just right for me! Anything bruised is also put aside for me and I cut out any damaged bits when preparing the food.

Purple-crested Turaco on the food station

Feeding so many turacos makes it easier to add in a little of lots of different ingredients, which if you were feeding only a pair or two, would be hard to work out in such small proportions. However, I have listed here the approximate weights of what I use and the order I mix it in:

(A) Dry mix – total weight about 1500 grams:

• T20 – Nutribird Toucan Pellets
• Orlux Tropical Patee Premium
• Junglegold eggfood
• 2 handfulls of small diced dried papaya
• handful of dried mealworms
• about a teaspoon of powdered cuttlefish
• Poultry layers pellets
• Poultry chick crumbs

I buy all the items above, apart from the last two, from Junglegold (www.junglegold.com or phone: 01953 452321)

(B) Grated vegetables / fruit – to the dry mix I grate in about 1000 grams of:

• white cabbage
• cauliflower
• broccoli
• sweet potato
• carrot
• cucumber

Dry mix plus grated vegetables

(C) Diced fruit / vegetables (washed in case they have been sprayed with anything) – with approximate weights and numbers:

• 500 grams (a bag) grapes – green and / or black
• 1000 grams (a large one) iceberg lettuce
• 500 grams (one) melon
• 400 grams (five) tomatoes
• 1000 grams (ten) apples
• 600 grams (eight) pears
• 600 grams (six) peaches and or nectarines

Dry mix plus grated vegetables and chopped fruit, except banana

(D) The mix so far is well mixed so the dry mix is evenly spread and mostly stuck to the fruit. To this I add peeled and diced bananas, which I mix in as gently as I can, so as to avoid making the food too sloppy. Depending on the actual amounts of all the ingredients above, I add in anything from fifty to eighty bananas, this being their favourite food.

Dry mix plus grated vegetables and chopped fruit, including bananas
Fruit and vegetable mix in bowls for adult turacos

(E) If a pair are rearing chicks, then I add a table spoon of mealworms to the top of their food (although many pairs largely ignore them) and then sprinkle a table spoonful of Nutribird A21 powder (also available from Junglegold) over the top and shake it down into the fruit mix as much as it will go.

Fruit and vegetable mix with extra dried mealworms and A21 powder, for pairs rearing chicks
Black-billed Turaco inspecting his food
Black-billed Turaco enjoying some grape (additional photo, not included in Issue 41)
Black-billed Turaco on his food bowl (additional photo, not included in Issue 41)