Classification Order Passeriformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Agapornis taranta Other Common Names Abyssinian Lovebird
Species Description The Abyssinian Lovebird, with a length of about
16–16.5cm (6.25–6.5 inches), is the largest of all the lovebirds. It
is sexually dimorphic, as are the Red-headed Lovebird and
Grey-headed Lovebird of the lovebird genus. The dimorphism becomes
apparent in juvenile birds after their first moult at about eight or
nine months of age. Both the male and female Abyssinian Lovebird are
mostly green, and only the adult male Abyssinian Lovebird has a red
forehead and a ring of red feathers around its eyes. The tail is
black tipped and feathers below the tail show a yellowish color. The
rump and feathers above the tail are light green. In the male
feathers under the wing are typically black, and in the female the
feathers under the wing are typically greenish or brownish black.
Both sexes have a red beak and gray feet.
The Abyssinian Lovebird nests in a tree cavity. The eggs
are white and there are usually three or four eggs in a clutch. The
female incubates the eggs for 23 days, and the chicks fledge from
the nest about 45 days after hatching.
Habitat They normally live in either high plains or
Distribution The natural habitat for an Abyssinian Lovebird
is typically from southern Eritrea to southwestern Ethiopia.
Captivity In aviculture the Abyssinian Lovebird has not
become well established as a breeding bird, although it can tolerate
cold weather. Breeding in aviculture is on a small scale, so it is
an uncommon pet.
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.