The turacos, also known as plantain eaters and go-away birds, make up the bird family Musophagidae (literally banana-eaters). In southern Africa both turacos and go-away birds are also commonly known as louries. Traditionally this group has been placed in the cuckoo order Cuculiformes, but Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy raises this group to a full order Musophagiformes

Turacos are medium sized arboreal birds common to sub-Saharan Africa, living in forests, woodland and savanna. Their flight is weak, but they run quickly through the tree canopy. They feed mostly on fruits and to a lesser extent on leaves, buds, and flowers, occasionally taking small insects, snails, and slugs.

The turacos and plantain eaters are brightly colored birds, usually blue, green or purple. The green color comes from turacoverdin, the only true green pigment in birds. (Other “greens” in bird colors result from a yellow pigment such as lypochrome combined with the prismatic blue physical structure of the feather itself.) Their wings contain a red pigment turacin. Both pigments are unique to this group. The Go-away-birds are mainly grey and white.

The Musophagidae build large stick nests in trees, and lay 2 or 3 eggs.


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