Classification Order Passeriformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Agapornis pullarius Other Common Names Red-headed Lovebird
Species Description The Red-headed Lovebird is 15 cm (6 inches)
long. It is a mostly green parrot. It has a well demarcated red area
on its head extending from the top of the beak, over the forehead to
mid-crown, and extending to the left and right up to the eyelid
margins. The have grey feet. The underside of the wings are a
lighter green. The female has orange head coloring, which is less
well demarcated than the males red head. The adult male has a red
beak and the female has a paler red beak.
It makes its nest in a termites nest usually in a tree or sometimes
on the ground. To make a nest the female digs a tunnel up to a
length of 30 cm in the termites nest in a colony with other
Habitat This species typically settles along forest
edges. On rare occasions, they are found in high forests. Outside
the breeding season, they usually live in colonies of up to 30
birds. During the day, they travel long distances to forage for
food, which usually includes grass seeds, a variety of fruits and
some cultivated crops. At night, they will return to communal
Distribution It is native to a wide range in Africa
including Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guine,
Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda,
Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. In addition, it is
an introduced species in Liberia.
Captivity It is difficult to breed in captivity because
it has to burrow to make its nest and the nest chamber needs to be
heated to about 27C; however, they can be induced to burrow into
cork to build a nest. It is a very nervous species.
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.
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.