You are here

Red-Crested Turaco

Tauraco erythrolophus
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern

The Red-crested Turaco is a turaco, a group of African near-passerines.  It is a fruit-eating bird endemic to western Angola.  Its call sounds somewhat like a jungle monkey. Turacos are the only birds to possess true red and green color.  When you look at most birds, the color you are seeing is a reflection produced by the feather structure.  The turaco's red pigment (turacin) and green pigment (turacoverdin) both contain copper.  In fact, if you stirred a glass of water with a red turaco feather, the water would turn pink! In museum species, the pigments deepen with age because the copper begins to oxidize.  These birds have mobile outer toes, which they are able to rotate forward or backward.

The call of a turaco sounds like "g'way", which is why they are often referred to as go-away birds.  On their heads is a beautiful crest, which stands about 5 cm (2 in.) when they are excited.  Turacos live in large flocks of up to 30 individuals.  They are monogamous in breeding.  During courtship, the male turaco will feed the female. Together, they build their nest; mother and father take turns sitting on the eggs.  Once the eggs have hatched, other flock members help the new mother care for the chicks.