Monday, September 24, 2012

Bodacious, violaceous turaco chicks!

Posted by: Kirsten Pisto, Communications

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

“We have some pretty cute violaceous turaco chicks in the Savanna Aviary”, says excited zookeeper, Norah Farnham. “We have not hatched this species in quite a while!” 

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
The chicks, both boys, hatched a day apart on July 31 and August 1. Even though they have fledged the nest, these two stick together and follow each other from branch to branch.

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
As this little chick stretches out, you can see his soft down. They are just starting to get their primary feathers and coloring. Zookeeper Katie Ahl told us she can see their beaks beginning to change color already!

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Here is a photo of an adult violaceous turaco. They have a really beautiful dark violet plumage with striking crimson primary flight feathers. Their orange beaks, as you can see, are also very bright, as well as their yellow forehead and scarlet top.

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
This baby is hunting for cantaloupe, a prized turaco delicacy…

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
The chick sneaks up on its prey, silent and poised for the attack…

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
Sluurp! Good thing these chicks are lightning fast hunters! Actually, points out zookeeper Matt Mills, turacos aren’t the best flyers, but they don’t need to be, because who needs to chase fruit?

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
At the zoo, violaceous turacos eat papaya, banana, pear, apple, grapes and blueberries. This clever chick knows that being fed always tastes better!

Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.
The chicks are hard to spot up high in their leaf forts, but Katie says she can sometimes hear their quiet peeps if they are near each other or their parents. Matt says they are getting more confident out in the exhibit and spending less time in holding.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Violaceous turacos, Musophaga violacea, are native to tropical West Africa in forests with large fruit trees and mangroves. They are almost always seen in pairs and build platform nests out of sticks high in the treetops.

There are only 73 turacos in 38 zoos in North America so we’ll be moving them to new homes as soon as they can be placed. 

You can visit the turacos in the Savanna Aviary. The chicks won’t be in the exhibit too much longer, as they will be moved off exhibit to avoid being injured by their parents. Be patient and listen for their loud cooroo-cooroo call, then you’ll spot the brightly colored beaks!

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