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Turacos and Plantain Eaters: Musophagiformes

Gray Go-away-bird (corythaixoides Concolor): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Go-away birds are dark gray and with lighter coloring around the eyes. Plumage is darkest on the tail, chin, chest, throat, and on small feathers called coverts. The crest on the bird's head consists of feathers of different lengths. The bird can raise or lower its crest.

The gray go-away bird is 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 centimeters) in length and weighs from 7.1 to 12 ounces (202 to 340 grams). While not as colorful as turacos, go-away-birds have more wing strength and are better fliers.

Geographic range: Go-away birds live in Angola, the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.

Habitat: Go-away-birds live in savannas, grassland areas with some trees. The birds generally roost, or stay, in acacia (uh-KAY-shah) trees.

Diet: Go-away-birds eat fruit, leaves, seeds, flowers, and termites. The birds sometimes eat clay, and are the only members of the Musophagidae family to do so. Birds may raid gardens, and their feeding can cause the destruction of crops such as lettuce.

Behavior and reproduction: The go-away-bird is named for its call. People think the call sounds like the words, "Go away." Since the bird calls when people approach, hunters think that the birds are giving a warning to animals.

When gray go-away-birds breed, the female has a clutch of one to four gray eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in twenty-six to twenty-eight days. Both parents care for the hatchlings. Parents may be assisted by helpers, birds thought to be offspring from an earlier mating.

The go-away-birds often pair up and are part of small family groups. They also form parties of up to twenty birds. They climb and hop in trees and appear to be curious about the world around them. They are less shy around humans than other birds in the Musophagidae family. And just as in human families, not all relatives get along. Go-away birds may chase turacos away from water and food sources like fruit trees. However, the go-away-birds will not object if they are joined by birds such as parrots or pigeons.

Gray go-away-birds and people: Gray go-away-birds annoy hunters because the birds' call sounds an alarm that warns animals that hunters are approaching.

Conservation status: Go-away-birds are not considered at risk of extinction. ∎



del Hoyo, Josep, et al, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopedia of Birds, 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Stuart, Chris and Tilde. Birds of Africa From Seabirds to Seed Eaters. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1999.

Web sites:

BirdLife International. http://www.birdlife.org/news/features/2003/08/kilum.html (accessed on April 25, 2004).

Pickrell, John. "African Birds Understand Monkey Communication, Study Says." NationalGeographic.com. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/18_040313_hornbills.html (accessed on April 25, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsTuracos and Plantain Eaters: Musophagiformes - Physical Characteristics, Musophagiformes And People, Great Blue Turaco (corythaeola Cristata): Species Accounts, Gray Go-away-bird (corythaixoides Concolor): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIE