This vocal birdie lets you know just what it’s thinking. If you get too close for comfort, you’ll hear a whiny squawk that sounds awfully similar to, “Go awayyyy.” You can see how the lourie got its nickname. As yet a third name, the go-away bird is also called the turaco.
Its native habitat is in the Afrotropics. You’ll typically spot this bird near desert rivers, open woodlands, and thornbush savannahs. Even more likely, where acacia trees are prevalent — the thorny tree’s pods are one of its favorite snacks.
The go-away bird has a special role in distributing fruit seeds. When it eats the fruits, its body digests the pulp and
packages the seeds neatly in the form of droppings. The droppings are released, and nature takes care of the rest.
Additionally, the bird spends a great deal of time hopping around branches and foraging. During this time, it knocks
fruits down, furthering the seeds’ dispersal.
This bird doesn’t limit its diet to just fruit. It also munches on insects, such as termites and snails. They’ve even been observed eating clay to make up for the nutrients it may be lacking otherwise — this practice is called geophagia.
Although there are several species of go-away birds with unique colors, shapes, and sizes, they all rock a similar ‘do. The bird is crested — it wears a crown of feathers that raise and lower according to how it’s feeling.
It’s also the only bird with true green (turacin) and red (turacoverdin) pigmentation. Other bird species merely refract these hues when light hits their plumage.
Another special feature of go-away birds is their semi-zygodactylous outer toes, meaning they can rotate their toe back
and forth. This allows them to change seamlessly between forward and backward movements. While it’s a master of
tree-hopping maneuvers, it’s not the strongest in flight, making it a non-migratory bird.
As you may have guessed, go-away birds are incredibly territorial. In addition to the auditory warnings for which they’re so famous, they’ve been known to dive-bomb approaching humans. However, amongst their species, the birds are very social and often form noisy groups of about 20-30.
Go-away birds are monogamous breeders. Both males and females participate in building the nest and incubating the eggs. Males are quite the gentlemen and will feed the females during courtship. When the chicks are born, other members of the birds’ group will lend a claw in caring for them.