Many of the different species in the endemic-to-Africa turaco family are beautiful and colourful birds, but the one that takes the proverbial cake, must be the Great Blue Turaco of the canopy of the forests of west Africa.
Apart from being a beautiful turquoise-blue colour, it is also huge (up to 75 centimetres high and weighing over a kilogram!). The name really does do it justice! Unlike other species of turacos, the Great Blue Turaco does not have red flight feathers in the wings. It has a large bill that is bright yellow with a red tip and a blue-black raised crest crowning the top of the heads. The tail is long and wide, and has a broad black subterminal band.
The Great Blue Turaco might be stunning, but unfortunately it is not blessed with graceful flying moves. They sort of glide-leap from one tree to the next, climbing up and down branches to reach the fruit they crave, before moving on to the next tree. They often forage in small flocks and several birds often gather at fruiting trees.
The call of the Great Blue Turaco is very unique. There are typically two different types that they use. They are most commonly heard at dawn and dusk and during mating season. Their primary call is a loud, deep, resonant, guttural “kok-kok-kok”. A bubbling softer “prru…prru” trill may sometimes precede this.
The Great Blue Turaco is widespread and appears relatively common throughout its range. However, the species is threatened by deforestation and habitat destruction due to human developments. It is unfortunately also hunted for consumption as food, and is still trapped for trade in some parts of the range.
For a chance to see the Great Blue Turaco and many other west African specials, join us on our small-group expert-guided Ghana birding trip in early 2020.
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