The Schalow’s Turaco

Author: Mike Cadman

Those fortunate enough to have visited Chundu Island would most likely have seen the spectacular Schalow’s Turaco.

Perched up in the tree canopy it shows off a mix of a green upperparts, a dark blue/purple tail, and  bright patch of red skin fringed with white around the eyes, all complemented by a long, delicate crest decorated with a snow white speckles.  But that’s just the start because when it flies is when it really begins to show off, revealing vivid red underwings.

Its beauty is one of the reasons we chose it for our logo but many wonder why it carries the name it does.

 Simple really, it is named after a German banker called Herman Schalow. Not many bankers have birds named after them but to be fair Schalow was no ordinary banker. That was his day job. He was also a prominent ornithologist and was the vice President of the German Ornithological Society from 1894 -1907 and president of the same society from 1907-1921.

Schalow was born in 1852 and died in 1925. He worked as an amateur ornithologist but his skills far outweighed those of many professionals. He described no fewer than 270 species of birds, wrote a book about the birds of the Artic, authored many papers and edited a book on the East African travels of the noted naturalist Dr Richard Böhm, (As an aside Böhm himself has at least three species of African birds named after him; Böhm’s Bee-eater, Böhm’s Flycatcher and Böhm’s Spinetail).

Schalow studied with Anton Reichenow, a leading ornithologist of the time. It was Reichenow who honoured Schalow by naming this spectacular bird after him – Tauraco schalowi.