Falco piscator Boddaert, 1783, Senegal. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Gray plantain-eater; French: Touraco gris; German: Schwarzschwanz-Larmvogel; Spanish: Turaco Gris Occidental.
19–20 in (48–51 cm); 11.6–12.3 oz (330–350 g). A predominantly gray-and-white turaco with a large lemon-yellow bill. Adults have forehead, crown, lores, cheeks, chin, and throat dark brown. A shaggy dark brown nape crest with whitish edges is unique among turacos. Upperparts silvery gray with dark brown spots; the lower breast, belly, flanks, thighs, and under tail coverts are white with heavy brown streaking, particularly on the thighs. Primary feathers black with a central third of the inner webs white, forming a conspicuous white wing patch in flight; tail largely blackish brown. Juveniles less silvery gray on upperparts and lack any crest on an otherwise all dark head.
Widespread throughout the sub-Saharan acacia steppe, wooded savannas, and cultivation from southern Mauritania, Senegambia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone east to Nigeria, Cameroon, Lake Chad, and the Central African Republic. Also disjunctly along the Congo River south of Stanley Pool.
Typically from sea level to 4,225 ft (1,300 m) in open wooded savannas and thorn scrub with scattered tall trees, while in the more semi-arid areas it keeps mainly to the thicker stands of vegetation and riparian woods. In many areas has adapted to cultivation and the neighborhood of villages, particularly where favored fruiting trees are available. Has readily adapted to parks and gardens in many countries.
A gregarious species, occurring generally in pairs or small groups. Always a noisy bird, with one seldom perching or joining its mate without a great deal of commotion. Pair bonding is exceptionally strong, with much calling, bowing, tail fanning, and food exchanges taking place during all greeting displays. Courtship display flights are always noisy and impressive. Less agile in running along branches than other turacos, as a result tends to fly more, albeit for short distances with much gliding alternating with rapid wingbeats. Frequently comes to ground to drink.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
A wide variety of wild and cultivated fruits are eaten, together with flowers, seed pods, and invertebrates, while the name plantain-eater is erroneous. Flowers constitute a major part of the diet, possibly as high as 50% in some individuals. Favored fruits include figs, mangos, and guavas, also the wild date (Phoenix reclinata), oil palm fruits (Elaeis guineensis), and the widely introduced neem (Azadirachta indica).
Generally two grayish white or pale bluish white eggs, oval and slightly glossy, are laid in a fairly substantial platform of dry sticks some 12–50 ft (4–15 m) above ground in a leafy tree. Incubation is by both sexes for 27–28 days, and on hatching the young are covered in grayish-brown down. Fledging period for this species unrecorded.
Not globally threatened, being widespread and locally abundant over much of the West African savannas, reaching a density of one bird per 2.5 acres (per hectare) in some areas of Acacia scorpioides woodland in Senegal. Commonly hunted and trapped for export in several countries, most notably Guinea.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
A highly sought after species in the traditional fetish markets of Nigeria.
Copyright © 2016-2017 Animalia Life | All rights reserved