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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.