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The following list of plants is I believe safe to use in aviaries:
Callistemon, Bottle Brush
Eucaluptus, except Eucalyptus globulus = minor toxicity
Mock Orange, species Philadelphus and Pittosporum tobira
Purple Passion Vine, Gynura aurantiaca
And I am sure there are many others!
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.
(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?
(1) 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).
(2) 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Would you advise adding vitamin supplements when rearing turaco chicks? If so, what would you use and where would you get it?
When birds are rearing young in the nest I sprinkle ‘Nutribird’ A21 hand-rearing 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 https://junglegold.co.uk/morley-aviaries.
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?
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.)
Incubation of eggs
I need to incubate some White-cheeked Turaco eggs.
(1) What temperature and humidity settings should I use?
(2) I have a Grumbach incubator. Is it any good for hatching turacos?
(1) 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.
(2) I understand that Grumbach incubators are very good forced air incubators which are expensive, with digital temperature and humidity display and electronic humidity control.
Lost and found
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?
Although turacos are not native to the UK, a number are living ‘wild’, having escaped from a collection somewhere. They are often White-cheeked, but Violets, Red-crested, Hartlaub’s and a Fischer’s have all been spotted over the last few years 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.
A good place to look is the UK National Pet Register ‘Lost Bird Register‘.
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.
I have 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
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
“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
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.
Rings can be purchased from Avian ID www.avianid.co.uk.
AvianID, Unit 3, Tescan Units Pool Business Park Wilson Way Redruth Cornwall TR15 3RX ENGLAND
Tel: +441209 212775
Yes you can get turacos hand tame if hand-reared 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 had two males (hand-reared 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.
It is possible, but I will no longer do so. I now only sell to UK collections.
It is my understanding that bird movements to and from the Continent will now be subject to the same regulations as if you were transporting to or from South Africa (for example). A self-certificate of health will no longer do. I believe there will now be a requirement for:
- All individuals must be close-rung
- CITES licences – export licence from leaving country plus import licence to where they are going for each species in the shipment
- When applying for the CITES licences you have to produce documentation to show that the birds being exported have not been imported from another country. This can be difficult! When I have exported turacos that I have bred here, I have had to provide information about the parents / grandparents / great grandparents and where / who I got them from and when – lots of dates, names addresses and ring numbers required!
- Veterinary export health certificate to cover all the birds in the shipment
- quarantine facilities in an approved premises must be arranged before the shipment is sent – quarantine is normally for 30 days.
All this can be very time consuming and ridiculously expensive – far greater costs than the value of the birds. One shipment to South Africa took six months to obtain the relevant paperwork!
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 usually sex my young turacos when they reach full size. I pull a few breast feathers and send them to Avian Genetics UK in little bags they supply. Ring them on: 01726 247788 or e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Animal Genetics UK, 1 Mount Charles Road, St Austell, Cornwall, PL25 3LB, UK.