|Great Blue Turaco|
|Grey Go-away Bird|
Turacos nest in an open, cup-shaped nest and lay 2-3 eggs. The chick will leave the nest at only 2 weeks, well before it can fly, and clambers along the branches. In this it takes after its parents – turacos even as adults are poor fliers and mostly run along branches, taking only short glides from tree to tree. As such they make an interesting potential model for flight in early birds, although they themselves are fairly advanced birds and are possibly related to the rather turaco-like Hoatzin of South America. If there is a connection it goes back a long way – modern turacos appear quite incapable of spreading across even small water barriers, let alone an ocean. Some fossil forms appear to have existed in Europe and they may have spread via island-hopping from there to North America and then south during periods when the North Atlantic was far narrower and temperatures in the northern hemisphere were higher. Although turacos look tropical, many species are surprisingly cold tolerant – escaped specimens of White-Cheeked Turaco have survived several years in the wild in the UK, despite snow and ice. There is one that lives near Bristol the one of my fellow volunteers has seen on several occasions – apparently it visits bird tables for peanuts!
|White-cheeked Turaco - have you seen this in the UK?|
(images from wikipedia)