26 Nov 2014

The tiny Fischer’s turacos (Tauraco fischeri) are being hand-reared after they were rejected by their first-time mum.

Now curator of birds Andrew Owen has stepped into the role of parent, providing round the clock care and feeding the chicks every few hours.

The duo have also been heading home with Andrew who uses tweezers to carefully feed them small pieces of chopped fruit. 

Andrew said:

It’s not unusual for a first-time mum to feel a little unsure as to what’s she’s to do with her new charges so I’m more than happy to step up and play parent.

Encouraging them to eat does require some patience and a little encouragement but once they’ve got full tummies then they’re usually happy to nod off to sleep. As youngsters go, other than meal times, they’ve been pretty un-demanding and I’m relieved to say they’ve not been keeping me up at night.

In no time at all though they’ll be ready to fledge and off to join the rest of the birds in the zoo.

The turacos are native to Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania where forest clearing and trapping prove a threat to long-term survival of the species.

Fast facts

  • Fischer’s turacos are native to forest and woodlands in Kenya, north-east Tanzania and south Somalia
  • There are around 2,500 left in the wild
  • Males and females differ considerably. Adult males have black feathers with a striking white face.
  • The birds feed on fruit, flower buds and insects
  • Turacos always lay two eggs which incubate for 22-23 days
  • Despite their black feathers, the chicks will eventually sport colourful plumage and have a black, red and white crest