Canopy feeders: Turaco

These remarkable birds live in African trees eating forest fruit. They are well adapted to canopy life with long tails for balance and a special fourth toe that rotates to help them cling to branches.

Although turacos are not robust fliers, you may feel them rushing past you during a visit to The Living Rainforest! You might also see them running over vegetation and hear the loud calls they use for communication.

Green with envy

Unlike other birds, the green colour of turacos is a ‘true’ green pigment called turacoverdin (thought unique in their family Musophagidae).

The green colour of other birds comes from a yellow pigment combined with a blue colour created when light shines through a particular feather structure (like a glass prism separating colours in white light).

Turacos also have a red colour pigment on the underside of their wings called turacin, also thought unique to the family. These red feathers are visible when turacos fly off and may be used to warn social groups of approaching predators.

Our residents

tauraco-1Fischer’s turaco (Tauraco fischeri); a near threatened species from Kenya, north-east Tanzania, and southern Somalia.


tauraco-3Red-crested turaco (Tauraco erythrolophus); a least concern species from Angola and Cameroon.



Falling numbers

The wild populations of these colourful birds are declining due to habitat loss for agriculture and timbre extraction.

Turacos are also vulnerable to trapping and export. This has especially affected the Fischer’s turaco when hundreds of birds were taken from Tanzania during the 1980 and 90s.

Fortunately, Turacos has some legal protection from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This is an agreement between governments to ensure that international trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Our Turacos are ‘appendix II’ species where their trade is strictly controlled.

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At a glance


Central African forests below the Sahara desert.


Mainly fruit, but also flowers, buds, leaves, and small insects.


Length: approximately 40cm (16")

IUCN conservation status

Fischer's turacos are near threatened. White-cheeked and red-crested are least concern.
What does this mean?

Scientific name

Tauraco species

High-rise feeding

Look out for our special bird feeders which use pulleys to raise fruit and other supplements into the canopy.

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