Schalow’s turaco (Tauraco schalowi)

Schalow's turacos
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Schalow’s turaco fact file

Schalow’s turaco description

GenusTauraco (1)

The attractive colours that pattern the plumage of Schalow’s turaco are derived from two unique copper pigments within its feathers, unknown in any other bird family (2) (4) (5). Like other turacos, it is a medium-sized bird, with short, rounded wings, a long tail, and a stout, curved bill (2) (4) (6). An extremely prominent, white-tipped crest adorns the head, while a ring of bare red skin surrounds the eye, delicately bordered with fine, black and white stripes. The upperparts are largely green, but noticeably darker over the mantle and wings, while the flight feathers are crimson, and the tail is deep, bluish black to violet (2). In common with all turacos, the feet have a special joint that allows the outer toe to move either forward or backward, an attribute that enables this bird to move dextrously through vegetation (2) (7).

Schalow’s turaco was formerly believed to be a subspecies of Tauraco persa, along with T. livingstonii and T. corythaix (2).

Touraco de Schalow.
Length: 41 - 44 cm (2)
Male weight: 236 - 261 g (2)
Female weight: 208 - 267 g (2)

Schalow’s turaco biology

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, adult Schalow’s turacos feed mainly on fruit, while the young are probably fed a protein rich diet of invertebrates (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). The flimsy nest of Schalow’s turaco is a shallow platform of loose twigs, positioned three to ten metres above the ground in thick foliage. A clutch size of two is typical, and the downy chicks hatch after an incubation period of 20 to 22 days, dutifully attended to by both sexes (2). 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 full week or two before they learn to fly (4).


Schalow’s turaco range

Schalow’s turaco occurs from southwest Kenya, west to Angola and south to Zimbabwe (2) (6).


Schalow’s turaco habitat

Inhabits evergreen forests, thickets and riparian woodland, from 600 to 2,500 metres above sea level (2).


Schalow’s turaco status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Schalow’s turaco threats

Although the feathers of Schalow’s turaco are allegedly a common feature of the ceremonial headdresses of the Masai tribe, trapping of this species is not reported to be a significant problem (2). On the contrary, Schalow’s turaco appears to have a relatively large and stable population, and is therefore not classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List (1) (8).


Schalow’s turaco conservation

There are no specific conservation measures in place for Schalow’s turaco, but it is listed on Appendix II of CITES, which prohibits international trade without a permit (2) (3) (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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To find out more about bird conservation in Africa, see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2010)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World - Sandgrouse To Cuckoos. Vol. 4. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (January, 2010)
  4. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  5. Alden, P.C., Estes, R.D., Schlitter, D. and Mc Bride, B. (1996) Collins Guide to African Wildlife. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
  6. Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
  7. BirdLife International (January, 2010)

Image credit

Schalow's turacos  
Schalow's turacos

© Martyn Chillmaid /

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