Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
Art and Photo Presentation

In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

White-cheeked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis)

White-cheeked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis)
(Artwork - 144)
White-cheeked Turaco (Tauraco leucotis)

There are approximately 23 species of turaco, or Musophagidae, also known as plantain-eaters and loeries, all of which are found only in sub-Saharan Africa. They used to be placed in the same order, Cuculiformes, as the cuckoos, but now mostly are believed to be the sole family in their own order, the Musophagiformes. They have semi-zygodactyle feet, meaning two toes point forward, one back, and one, the fourth (outer) toe can be directed either way, which is a handy arrangement for perching, and climbing about among branches. Some species, known as “go-away birds”, are coloured in grey, black and white and live in open savannahs and arid regions. Other, woodland species are famous for having their plumage coloured with green and red pigments not yet found elsewhere in other birds.

The green in parrots and numerous other bird species comes from “refraction”, with light waves bent to reflect the blue part of the spectrum over yellow pigment. But the turacos have a pigment called turacoverdin, a true, green pigment. The red in the wing feathers comes from turacin, whereas, so far as is known, in all other birds red colour comes from carotenoids or phaeomelanins (importing rusty shades). Turacin is famous for being water soluble, if the water is alkaline. Rain water won’t wash the colour out, but bathing in an alkaline rain puddle might do so. Turacin contains about six percent copper in a complex with an organic compound called uroporphyrin! (This is all very technical and I’m probably not explaining it well, but interesting as it is different from the source of colour in other bird species; one of the best known such complexes is heme, that gives our blood its red colour.

Arboreal, turacos are consummate fruit eaters, especially the fruit of Podocarpus and juniper, but will take leaves, buds, flowers and even small invertebrate animals, including gastropods (slugs). They love bananas and plantains.

The White-cheeked Turaco is roughly pigeon-sized, although slender and long-tailed, weighing from about 200 to 315 grams (7.1 to 11.1 oz). There are two subspecies. I’ve painted the nominate one which is found in Eritrea, Ethiopia and parts of the Sudan. On the east side of the Rift Valley is the second race, T. l. donaldsoni, found in parts of south-central Ethiopia and the western tip of Somalia. The White-cheeked is the species of turaco most often seen in zoos, and is frequently captive-bred for the exotic pet trade. They are not endangered, do not migrate, and make loosely constructed platform nests out of interlacing twigs. They are social birds full of character.

The painting is gouache-watercolour on acrylic on illustration board, approximately 20.5 by 15.5 inches.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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