- Birds Articles and news

Topic : Land Birds

Article 37 bullet 09 September 2007

Flower power! Grey Go-away-bird’s flower eating habits, and new name change

by Hugh Chittenden

The diet of Grey Go-away-bird includes, fruit, flowers, buds, leaves, nectar and insects.

It is undoubtedly the greatest avian feeder of flower petals in southern Africa. In fact, at certain times of the year, their dependence on petals is such that the greatest proportion of their diet is made up of this seemingly strange food source. Data from Roberts 7 shows that flowers petals from a wide range of plant are utilized. Recorded tree flowers are; acacias, Burkea, Marula, coral-trees and bauhinias. The attached photos show the birds feeding on two other tree sources, Aloe marlothii, and Gymnosporia senegalensis 

Grey Go-away-bird feeding on Aloe marlothii

Grey Go-away-bird feeding on Aloe marlothii flower petals

New name change

The new southern African name change from Grey Lourie to Grey Go-away-bird has proved to be one of the least popular on the recent changes in the region. Many South African birders now accept these vernacular name changes are in the long term the right way to go in order to achieve vernacular name consensus on the continent, ie ‘one bird, one name’ The choice of name however, has proved to be unacceptable by many birders, who do not understand the reasons why this name was ‘forced’ on the region.

Grey Go-away-bird feeding on Gymnosporia

The month of August is a lean month for frugivores in bushveld regions. Here a Grey Go-away-bird feeds on Gymnosporia senegalensis flower petals.

Central African birders have always called this group or family of birds, ‘Go-away-birds’. However, using Tanzania as an example, there are 3 go-away-bird species recorded there, namely Bare-faced, White-bellied and Grey go-away-birds. The two former species are wide-ranging occurring from Ethiopia through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In order to get conformity or standardization with names it was logical therefore for southern Africa to adopt Go-away-bird for Lourie (or Turaco), which was less disruptive than changing the names of all three go-away-birds in eastern central Africa.

Grey Go-away-bird feeding on Aloe petals

Large quantities of flower petals are consumed by these birds during the winter months.



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