Tauraco Fischeri (Fischer's Turaco)

Fischer's turaco (Tauraco fischeri) is a species of bird in the family Musophagidae. It is found in Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and arable land. It is threatened by habitat loss. The common name and scientific name commemorate the German explorer Gustav Fischer.

A member of the Green Turaco super-species, Fischer's Turaco boasts a distinctive white and black tipped red crest. The red pigmentation also appears dorsal along the nape of the neck.The sub-species T.f.zanzibaricus is noteworthy, as it is the only Turaco species to be found outside mainland Africa - living on the offshore island of Zanzibar. T.f.zanzibaricus differs from the nominate by having violet-blue upper parts rather than green. Fischer's Turaco measures approximately 40cm in length, beak to tail, and weighs between 227g and 283g. Within its distribution, this bird prefers mature woodland and forestry from sea level to 1250m. It typically feeds on available fruits. One individual was once observed killing (and eating) a small bird, but this is believed to be highly unusual.

Distribution / Habitat

This Turaco is found in East Kenya, South Somalia, East Tanzania, Nambia, Angola, Zambia, South-Eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Malawi, Namibia, North-east Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. It is the only Turaco species to be also found outside mainland Africa - living on the offshore island of Zanzibar.
As they prefer humid forests areas, their natural habitats include subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist montanes, and arable land. They can be seen in dry open savanna woodlands, farms, parks and suburban gardens - often near water.

The total population was thought to be very small, at no more than 2,500 birds (D. A. Turner in litt. 1999), but the recently revised population estimate of c.1,400 individuals for Zanzibar and over 1,000 in the Eastern Usambara, Tanzania (L. Borghesio in litt. 2010) suggests that the total population estimate should be recalculated. The population is thus assumed to fall within the range 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  Although a limited time series of data suggests a sub-population is Eastern Usambara is stable (Borghesio 2007, L. Borghesio in litt. 2010), the population is suspected to be in decline owing to the ongoing threats from habitat clearance and trapping.

This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is believed to have a moderately small population, which is suspected to be declining owing to the effects of forest exploitation, clearing for agriculture and capture for trade.

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