Avian Species Menu

Red-headed Lovebird

Red-headed Lovebird

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Species Organizations

National Audubon Society
Website: www.audubon.org
Cornell Lab of Orinthology
Website: www.birds.cornell.edu
The Avian Web
Website: www.avianweb.com

Classification
Order Passeriformes, Family Psittacidae
Scientific Name
Agapornis pullarius
Other Common Names
Red-faced 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 lovebirds.


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 roosts.

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.

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.


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