Plantain Eater, the name of the musopha-gince, a subfamily of conirostral birds, inhabiting Africa, and living chiefly upon the fruit of the plantain. In all the genera the bill is strong, broad at the base, curved, with notched tip; wings short; tail long and broad; tarsi and toes strong, the outer one capable of being directed backward; this last, however, is denied by Swainson. In the genus musophaga (Isert) the bill is large, with the culmen much advanced on the forehead; fourth and fifth quills the longest, and the tertials long and broad; tail rounded; orbital region naked. The violet plantain eater (M. violacea, Is.) is 20 in. long, of a beautiful shining purplish black; crown and quills crimson, on the last with a lilac tinge; bill bright yellow, passing into crimson at the tip, light and semi-transparent; a white stripe beneath the eye. It is found on the Gold coast. In the genus turacus (Cuv.), or corythaix (111.), the bill is short and high, with the lateral margins finely serrated; wings short, the fourth to the seventh quills the longest; outer toe versatile; orbital region naked, and head with movable crest.
The Senegal plantain eater (T. purpureas, Less.) is about 16 in. long, of a glossy purple, with the head, neck, breast, and crest green; orbits naked and red; white stripe over the eye, and a black one beneath; it is very shy, and difficult to shoot, from its frequenting the highest branches of the tallest trees; it is restricted to the W. coast of tropical Africa. Several other species are described in Africa, all shy and handsome. - The American subfamily opistho-comidcB is placed in the same family by Gray; the characters are essentially the same, except in the incapability of turning the outer toe backward. It embraces the single genus opis-thocomus (Hoffm.), and the single species 0. cristatus (Lath.) or the hoazin; this is about 18 in. loug, greenish above, with longitudinal white stripes on the back of the neck and shoulders; the forehead and long crest chestnut, as well as the primaries and abdomen; breast lighter, with an orange tint; secondaries and tertiaries edged with white; tail long, green tipped with light buff; bare space round eyes blue,' legs red, and bill yellow. It lives in small flocks on the banks.of the rivers of Brazil and Guiana, feeding chiefly on the leaves of the arum arlorescens (Linn.), which give to the flesh a musky odor rendering it unpalatable.
This singular bird was placed by Linnaeus and by many later authors among the gallinaceous birds, which it resembles even in its gait; it is now ranked among the perchers.
Plantain Eater (Turacus purpureus).