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White-Cheeked Turaco

Tauraco leucotis
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Northeast Africa
Podocarpus and juniper forests in the highland regions

Turacos are remarkable in their feather colouration.  They are the only birds that produce a true green pigment.  Every other green bird you see has “structural” green, where the shape of the feather is some part of how green light is reflected.  But turacos use copper from their diet to produce a unique green pigment called turacoverdin!  They also produce a copper-based red pigment (called turacin) found on the inside of each wing.

White cheeked turacos live in flocks of around 12 individuals.  They eat fruit and some invertebrates.

They are monogamous, and the male will feed the female during courtship. Both parents help in the nest building and incubation process. Their nest is a thick platform of dry twigs.  Hatchlings have a tiny claw on the end of their wing to help them cling to twigs. The claw is lost by the time they fledge. These are agile, arboreal birds.  The outer rear toe on each foot can rotate forward or back (called a semi-zygodactylous foot) to help them jump or climb, as needed.