top of page

Turaco Nutrition: A Complete Guide to a Healthy and Balanced Diet


Turacos are a unique group of arboreal birds belonging to the family Musophagidae, comprising approximately 23 species. They are known for their vivid colors, which are derived from pigments unique to this family of birds. Some popular species of turacos kept in captivity include the Lady Ross's Turaco, White-cheeked Turaco, and the Livingstone's Turaco.

Natural Habitat Native to sub-Saharan Africa, turacos inhabit various ecosystems, such as tropical and subtropical forests, savannas, and woodland areas. They are primarily arboreal, spending most of their time in trees, and rarely venturing to the ground except to drink or bathe.

Captive Care Requirements In captivity, turacos require spacious aviaries with plenty of branches and foliage for climbing and perching. The enclosure should be well-ventilated, secure, and provide both shaded and sunny areas. Turacos are sensitive to low temperatures, so they should be protected from cold drafts and damp conditions. Providing an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat is key to maintaining their health and well-being.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Turacos

A. Maintaining Vibrant Colors One of the most striking features of turacos is their brilliant coloration. Their unique pigments, turacoverdin (green) and turacin (red), are not found in any other birds. A well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining their vibrant colors and ensuring their feathers remain in excellent condition.

B. Ensuring Overall Health and Well-being Just like any other living creature, turacos require proper nutrition to maintain their overall health. A diet lacking essential nutrients can lead to various health issues, such as poor feather quality, weakened immune systems, and reduced lifespan. By providing a balanced diet, you can help your turaco stay healthy, active, and happy.

C. Supporting Reproductive Success For those interested in breeding turacos, proper nutrition plays a vital role in reproductive success. A well-rounded diet ensures that both male and female turacos are in optimal condition for breeding, increasing the chances of producing healthy offspring.

The Best Food Choices for Turacos

Turaco Eating Fruits
Turaco Eating Fruits

A. Fruit: The primary component of their diet

Types of fruits to include Turacos are primarily frugivorous, meaning their diet consists mainly of fruit. Some fruits that can be offered to turacos include papaya, mango, banana, apple, pear, grapes, and berries. It's essential to provide a variety of fruits to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients.

Fruits to avoid or limit Not all fruits are suitable for turacos. Some fruits, like avocado, are toxic to birds and should be avoided. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, should be offered sparingly due to their high acidity.

Turaco Eating Insect
Turaco Eating Insect
  1. Live or dried insects In the wild, turacos also consume insects, which provide them with essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. In captivity, you can offer your turaco insects like mealworms, crickets, and waxworms. Promeal's dried insects are an excellent, convenient option that can be easily incorporated into your bird's diet.

  2. Commercial insectivore diets If live or dried insects are not available, you can also use commercial insectivore diets to supplement your turaco's protein needs. These diets are formulated to provide balanced nutrition and can be mixed with fresh fruit or offered separately.

Turaco Food Diet
Turaco Food Diet

C. Vegetables and leafy greens

  1. Types of vegetables to include Incorporate vegetables like leafy greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard), peas, green beans, and sweet potatoes into your turaco's diet for additional vitamins and minerals.

  2. Preparing and serving vegetables Wash all vegetables thoroughly and chop them into small, manageable pieces. Serve raw or lightly steamed to retain nutrients.

D. Additional supplements: Vitamins and minerals

  1. Importance of calcium Calcium is crucial for maintaining strong bones, proper muscle function, and eggshell formation in breeding birds. Provide a calcium supplement in the form of cuttlebone, crushed eggshells, or a commercial calcium supplement.

  2. Other essential nutrients Consult your avian veterinarian for guidance on appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements for your turaco, ensuring they receive all necessary nutrients.

E. Fresh water Ensure your turaco has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Change the water daily and clean the dish to prevent moulds

Feeding Frequency and Portion Sizes

A. Adjusting to your bird's age and activity level Feed your turaco according to their age, size, and activity level. Juveniles may require more frequent feedings, while adult birds typically do well with two to three meals per day.

B. Monitoring your turaco's weight and condition Regularly monitor your turaco's weight and overall condition to ensure they maintain a healthy weight. Adjust their food intake if you notice weight fluctuations or changes in behavior.

C. Offering a variety of foods to encourage natural foraging behaviors Provide a variety of food items to mimic the diversity of their natural diet and encourage foraging behaviors. Rotate fruits, vegetables, and protein sources to keep your turaco's diet interesting and balanced.

Tips for Encouraging a Balanced Diet

A. Introducing new foods Introduce new foods gradually to allow your turaco to become accustomed to them. Offer small amounts of new items alongside their familiar foods to encourage exploration and acceptance.

B. Feeding strategies to prevent selective eating To prevent selective eating, offer a mix of chopped fruits, vegetables, and insects in a single dish, making it more difficult for your bird to pick out only their favorite items.

C. Addressing common nutritional challenges If your turaco is reluctant to eat certain foods, try different presentation methods, such as skewering fruits on a kabob or hiding insects inside hollowed-out fruits. Consult with an avian veterinarian if you continue to face challenges in maintaining a balanced diet for your bird.

A. Nutritional benefits of insects Insects provide essential protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals that support your turaco's overall health, growth, and reproduction. In the wild, turacos consume insects as part of their natural diet, making them a vital component of their captive diet as well. The high protein content in insects helps support muscle development and tissue repair, while healthy fats provide energy and assist in nutrient absorption. Insects also contain essential vitamins, such as vitamin A and B-complex vitamins, which contribute to healthy vision, immune function, and metabolic processes. Additionally, insects are a good source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which help maintain strong bones and support various physiological functions.

B. Types of feeder insects suitable for turacos Offer your turaco a variety of feeder insects, such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and earthworms, to ensure they receive a balanced array of nutrients. Each insect type has its unique nutritional profile, and providing a variety will help cover any gaps in your turaco's diet. Crickets are a lean protein source, while mealworms and waxworms are higher in fat, making them a valuable energy source. Earthworms are not only a rich protein source but also provide essential moisture, which can be particularly beneficial during the dry season or when your turaco is dehydrated.

C. How to incorporate insects into your turaco's diet Insects can be mixed with fruits and vegetables or offered separately in a shallow dish. Ensure you provide an appropriate quantity to meet your turaco's protein needs without overfeeding. The amount required will depend on your bird's size, age, activity level, and reproductive status. You can start by offering a few insects per meal and adjust the quantity based on your bird's appetite and body condition. To encourage natural foraging behaviors, you can hide insects among fruits and vegetables or place them inside a hanging feeder or puzzle toy.

D. Tips for sourcing and storing feeder insects Purchase feeder insects from reputable suppliers to ensure they are healthy and free of pesticides. Store live insects in a cool, dark environment with adequate ventilation and provide them with a nutritious diet to maximize their nutritional value for your turaco.

Commercial Diets for Turacos

A. Pros and cons of using commercial diets Commercial diets can provide a convenient and balanced source of nutrients for your turaco, but they should not replace fresh fruits, vegetables, and insects entirely. Use commercial diets to supplement your bird's fresh food intake.

B. Selecting a high-quality product Choose a commercial diet specifically formulated for insectivorous birds and made by a reputable manufacturer. Look for products with high-quality ingredients and minimal fillers or artificial additives.

C. Balancing commercial diets with fresh food Ensure that fresh fruits, vegetables, and insects remain the primary components of your turaco's diet, using commercial diets as a supplementary source of nutrients.

Monitoring Your Turaco's Health Through Diet

A. Signs of a balanced diet A turaco on a balanced diet will maintain a healthy weight, exhibit vibrant plumage, show appropriate energy levels, and produce normal droppings.

B. Recognizing potential nutritional deficiencies or imbalances Signs of nutritional deficiencies or imbalances in turacos may include dull or discolored feathers, lethargy, weight loss, or abnormal droppings. Consult an avian veterinarian if you suspect your bird isexperiencing nutritional issues.

C. Consulting with an avian veterinarian for guidance Regular check-ups with an avian veterinarian are essential to monitor your turaco's overall health and ensure they are receiving an appropriate diet. Your veterinarian can provide personalized recommendations and address any concerns related to your bird's nutritional needs.

The Impact of Environmental Factors on Turaco Nutrition

A. The role of natural sunlight Natural sunlight plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of turacos. Sunlight helps them synthesize vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption. Provide access to unfiltered sunlight, or use full-spectrum UV lighting in your aviary to ensure your bird receives adequate exposure.

B. The importance of a clean and stress-free environment Maintain a clean, stress-free environment for your turaco to support their overall health. Regularly clean their enclosure, remove spoiled food, and provide a quiet, secure space for them to rest.

C. Providing enrichment activities to encourage natural foraging behaviors Offer a variety of enrichment activities to stimulate your turaco's natural foraging behaviors. This can include hiding food items throughout their enclosure, providing puzzle feeders, or offering destructible toys to encourage exploration and activity.


Proper nutrition is critical for maintaining the health and happiness of your turaco. By providing a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, insects, and supplementary nutrients, you can ensure your bird thrives in captivity. Remember to monitor their weight, condition, and overall health, and consult with an avian veterinarian for personalized guidance on your turaco's nutritional needs. By meeting their dietary and environmental needs, you can enjoy the beauty and companionship of these remarkable birds for years to come.


bottom of page