Scientific Name: Crinifer piscator
Plantains are the firmer, less sugary cousins of the banana and are sometimes the fruit of choice for this appropriately named African bird.
STATUS: The Western grey plantain-eater is listed as of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
HABITAT: This bird typically makes its home in the woodlands and tall grasslands of western Africa.
DIET: This species commonly eats fruits, seeds, and other nearby vegetation.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Western grey plantain-eater is about 20 inches long, making it one of the largest in the turaco family, though not one of the most colorful. The majority of this bird’s plumage is grey with small spots of brown or black. The crest and neck of this bird are almost completely brown with small silvery streaks tapering at the end. The underparts are silvery white with large streaks of brown throughout, and the tail is almost completely brownish-black in color. The most colorful part of this bird is the bright yellow coloring of their bill. When in flight, this bird can be distinguished from its close relative, the Eastern plantain-eater, by a visible white bar beneath its wings. The juveniles of this species are distinguishable from their grown counterparts by their wooly heads that lack the signature silver streaks of the adults.
A Distinct Family
Plantain-eaters are part of the Musophagidae family, which consists of turacos, plantain-eaters, and go-away-birds. Plantain-eaters and go-away-birds are the more dull species of the family, while the turacos are the birds blessed with bright, vibrant colors which they use to decorate the woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. Musophagidae, literally meaning “banana eaters,” is an appropriate grouping title for the plantain-eaters because plantains are part of the Musa family of fruits, with bananas being their closest relative. The go-away-birds are so named due to their high-pitched alarm call that is sometimes thought to say “go away” to nearby animals. Despite their noticeable differences, these birds are able to live alongside one another and create one big, beautiful, singing, plantain-eating family.