The Rosy-faced Lovebird

26th June 2010

Distribution: Two subspecies are recognised: A. r. roseicollis from most of Namibia to the lower Orange River valley in northwest South Africa, and A. r. catumbella in southwest Angola. The nominate species is found almost exclusively in Namibia, with captive birds found round the world. It is a common house pet and escapees can be found in many places not only in southern Africa but as far away from their native Namibia as Arizona and London.

Status: Populations of Rosy-faced Lovebirds have been reduced in some areas by trapping for the pet trade. However numbers may have increased in other parts due to the creation by man of new water sources and the building of artificial structures which provide new nesting sites. Because of this the species is classed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and this species is considered not threatened.

Habitat: In the wild, this bird prefers to live in mature broad-leaved woodland along ephemeral rivers; for instance in stands of Hyphaene petersiana (Northern lala palms); or mix of Acacia, Sterculia (Star-chestnuts) and Commiphora (Corkwoods). But it can be found in other types of habitat, such as grassland, savanna, cultivated areas, or even arid and semi-desert regions. It lives from sea-level up to mountainous areas at 1,600 metres of altitude. The Rosy-faced Lovebird is dependent on the presence of water sources for bathing and drinking.

General habits: This bird is gregarious and lives in colonies. When food is plentiful, it may gather in flocks containing hundreds of individuals and sometimes becomes a pest in agricultural areas where it feeds on crops such as millet.

The Rosy-faced Lovebird eats throughout the day and takes frequent baths. It is renowned for its sleeping position in which it alongside its partner, turning its face towards each other.

Feeding habits: The Rosy-faced Lovebird is mainly a seedeater, with the rest of its diet largely made up of fruits and berries, and, rarely, leaves and flowers. It can often be found in cultivated land, foraging for grain, notably sunflower, millet and maize.

Breeding habits: These birds are called Lovebirds because they live as a couple throughout their life. The couple generally sits huddled up together, lovingly grooming each other with a total devotion. They lay their eggs from February to April, peaking in February-March.

Nest: The nest is built in a rock crevice or within a compartment of the large communal nests built by Sociable Weavers . Man-made structures such as the roofs of houses may also be used. It is the female's responsability to build the nest. She tears raw materials into long strips, "twisty-ties" them onto her back, and flies long distances to carry them back to her nest building site. The nest it often lined with bark strips and grass leaves.

Eggs: The Rosy-faced Lovebird lays 4-6 eggs (3-8 in captivity), at 2 day intervals. Incubation starts 1-2 days after the first laid egg, and is done solely by the female. It lasts 23 days. Eggs are dull white and measure 23.5 mm by 17.3 mm.

Young: The newborn chicks are reddish, becoming grey as they grow older. They are brooded by the female, while the male does all the foraging. The young birds fledge after 43 days. Juvenile birds have a paler face and throat and a brownish cere.

Call: It has various harsh, shrieking calls.

Description:.The Rosy-faced Lovebird is a fairly small bird, 15–18 cm long with an average wing length of 106 mm and tail length of 44–52 mm.Wild birds are mostly green with a blue rump. The face and throat are pinkish, darkest on the forehead and above the eye. The bill is greenish-yellow, the iris is brown and the legs and feet are grey.

Colouration can vary widely among populations but females are generally darker and greener, whilst males are smaller and brighter. Yet it is difficult to sex those birds, and breeders usually have to use their pelvis bones which in males measure 1-3 mm while measuring 6-8 mm in females.

Did you know: Rosy-faced Lovebirds have the widest range of colour mutations of all the Agapornis species. Generally speaking, these mutations fall into the genetic categories of Dominant, Codominant, Recessive, and Sex-Linked Recessive. While this seems fairly straight-forward, it can quickly become confusing when a single specimen has multiple examples of these mutational traits.

Some human foods are unsuitable or poisonous for Rosy-faced Lovebirds, including dairy products, chocolate, cheese, avocado, rhubarb, alcohol, and strawberries (which contain trace amounts of carcinogenic pesticides). Are also dangerous for them: blue-green algae, Teflon, dog and cat saliva, household cleaners and detergents and scented candles.

The Rosy-faced Lovebird is also called: Peach-faced lovebird [English]; Rooiwangparkiet [Afrikaans]; Perzikkopagapornis [Dutch]; Inséparable rosegorge, Inséparable face rose [French]; Rosenpapagei [German]; Inseparável-de-faces-rosadas [Portuguese]