Scientific Name: Musophaga violacea
Although they spend all their time in the trees, turacos are actually not very good fliers. Instead, they jump from tree to tree using their broad tails for balance. Turacos are medium to large sized birds endemic to Africa. They are social birds, living in large, noisy flocks that do not migrate.
STATUS: Turacos are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); however, their numbers are declining.
HABITAT: Violaceous, or violet, turacos are found in the forest regions of western Africa.
DIET: These birds eat mainly fruit—their favorite is figs!
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Like all turacos, violet turacos’ feet have two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward. The outer toe can even change position to face either backwards or forwards. These types of toes are called semi-zygodactyl, and they help the turacos move quickly and gracefully among the trees. Their bills are heavy and curved, designed for the fruit they eat. The violet turaco is named for the color of its body—violet! Contrasting with its glossy body, the violet turaco has a yellow forehead, red bill and eye ring, and a chestnut crown. The red in their feathers is created from a copper pigment called turacin, unique to turacos.
Turaco males take advantage of their beautiful coloration when trying to attract females. When courting, males will flutter their wings and raise the crests on their heads to display their bright colors. Once paired up, the couple will build a nest together with twigs and sticks. Both the male and female will take turns sitting on the eggs and, after hatching, both parents will share in feeding duties.