The Purple-crested Turaco is a bird of forests and dense woodland, where they subsist on a diet of fruit, berries and buds foraged high up in the tree tops. They’re also increasingly being seen in well planted suburban parks and gardens within their range. They are rather large birds, weighing around 300g and measuring about 42cm long, and despite this moves very nimbly through the forest canopy. Though not necessarily shy and retiring birds they are usually rather difficult to discern in the darkness of their preferred habitat, and their characteristically turaco call is often the first indication of their presence in an area.
Normally seen singly or in pairs, and only occasionally in groups of up to six, adult Purple-crested Turacos form monogamous, territorial pairs. They build flimsy platform-nests using twigs and sticks, laying clutches of 2-4 eggs in spring and summer. Both parents incubate the eggs over a 3 week period and both bring food to the chicks, which fledge at about 5 to 6 weeks of age.
The Purple-crested Turaco is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN though loss of habitat may be causing a decline in their numbers. They occur from Uganda and Kenya, through Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to South Africa (Escarpment and Lowveld of Limpopo and Mpumalanga as well as Kwazulu-Natal) and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), of which it is the national bird.