In spite of being poor fliers, the forest turacos (of which there a number of species) seldom descend to the ground. Instead, these shy but gregarious birds utilise their remarkable climbing skills to navigate the tree canopy, skipping nimbly from branch to branch. When unassailable gaps do eventually necessitate flight, they take to the air with a few earnest flaps to the next tree, before clambering back up into the leafy crown (2). Like other turaco species, Hartlaub’s turaco mainly feeds on fruits and berries, some of which are extremely poisonous to humans, but it will also take the occasional small insect, and, in suburban areas, will often partake of exotic fruit (2) (4).
Although turacos generally forage in groups, breeding is a solitary affair, with monogamous pairs fiercely defending their territories. Courtship involves much calling, chasing and general exhibition, with Tauraco species commonly spreading their wings to display the striking crimson patches (2) (4). Hartlaub’s turaco breeds between April and December, with peaks coinciding with periods of high rainfall. The flimsy nest is a shallow platform of loose twigs, positioned three to eight metres above the ground in thick foliage. A clutch size of two is typical, and the downy chicks hatch after an incubation period of 16 to 18 days, dutifully attended to by both sexes (2). Strengthened on a nutritious diet of caterpillars and regurgitated pulp, the precocious chicks do not linger long in the nest, and within two to three weeks are clambering through the branches of the nest tree, a week or two before they learn to fly (2) (4).