Classification Order Passeriformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Agapornis nigrigenis Other Common Names N/A
Species Description The Black-cheeked Lovebird is 14 cm (5.5 in) in
length, with mostly green plumage, reddish-brown forehead and
forecrown, brownish-black cheeks and throat, orange bib below the
throat which fades to yellowish-green, white eye-rings and grey
feet. Adult have bright red beaks, while juveniles of the species
are similar but with a more orange bill. Vocalizations are loud,
piercing shrieks, which are very similar to those of other
The Black-cheeked Lovebird feeds mainly at
ground-level on annual grass seeds, but also on other vegetable
matter and insect larvae, and on corn, sorghum, and millet.
Habitat The Black-cheeked Lovebird inhabits deciduous
woodland, where permanent supplies of surface water exist, as it
needs daily access to water. In the dry season, these birds may
congregate in large flocks of up to 800 or more.
Distribution It is endemic in a relatively small range in
southwest Zambia, where it is vulnerable to habitat loss.
Captivity The Black-cheeked Lovebird is relatively easy
to breed in aviculture, but there was little interest in breeding
them during the first half of the twentieth century at a time when
imports were numerous. Now they are uncommon in aviculture and
uncommon as pets.
Summary The name Lovebird stems from these parrots'
strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods of time in
which paired birds will spend sat beside one another.
Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat mainly fruit,
vegetables, some grasses and seed. Abyssinian Lovebirds also eat
insects and figs, and the Black-collared Lovebirds have a special
dietary requirement for native figs making them almost impossible to
keep in captivity.
Lovebirds (in general) are not known for their talking ability,
although there are some lovebirds that do learn words - the females
are usually the ones that do this. As is the case when many smaller
parrots, the "voice" of lovebirds is high-pitched and raspy and it
may be difficult to understand their speech. Lovebirds are very
vocal birds, making loud, high-pitched noises that can be a
nuisance. They make noise all day, but especially at certain times
of day. They are also extremely active, and love to chew things. It
is wise to observe the birds carefully when let out of their cage,
and to protect any furniture, or anything they have access to.
Lovebirds are notorious for attempting to build nests, especially
during mating season - for this reason, loose material such as
shredded paper and fabric do not make suitable toys at certain times
of year, as the lovebirds could see it as nest-making material and
attempt to mate. Breeding is not something that should be attempted
by someone without lots of experience. "Huts" or hiding places and
small enclosures are also not good for the same reason.
Female lovebirds are prone to egg-binding, an often fatal condition
in which an egg cannot be laid as it gets caught in the reproductive
tract. It is thought that egg binding often occurs due to a lack of
liquid calcium in the diet, which causes a softer shell. To prevent
this females, particularly those kept in pairs, should be given
calcium supplementation in their water from a young age.
Additionally, egg binding appears more likely amongst younger birds;
to avoid egg binding females in captivity should be prevented from
engaging in mating behaviours until at least one year of age.
Lovebirds are also known to be nippy and bossy. Although this can be
seen as amusing and endearing by many owners, some do not like it; a
lovebird, while a nice pet, is not for everyone. They bite very hard
and love to test their limits - if the owner does not set them early
on, he or she will have a bird that bites to get their way.
Some species of the genus are amongst the most popular parrots kept
as pets, and several color mutations have been selectively breed in
aviculture. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Lovebirds vary in size from about 13 to 17 centimeters in
length and from about 40 to 60 grams in weight. They are among the
smallest parrots in the world, and they are characterized by a
stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large beak for
their overall size.
Wild-type lovebirds are mostly green with a variety of colors on
their upper body depending on the species. The Fischer's Lovebird,
Black-cheeked Lovebird, and the Masked Lovebirds have a white ring
around their eyes. The Abyssinian Lovebird, the Madagascar Lovebird,
and the Red-faced Lovebird are sexually dimorphic. Many color
mutations have been produced by selective breeding in the species
that are popular in aviculture.