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Rosy-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis)


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Subfamily: Psittacinae
Genus: Agapornis
Species: Agapornis roseicollis

Description

The Rosy-faced Lovebird is one of the most beautiful lovebird species, which all belong to the order of parrots. According to their age and their gender their coloration differs. Males are mostly green-colored but are covered with pink feathers on the cheeks, the throat, the forehead, the chins and upper breasts. On the tail the feathers are green with blue tips and except the central feathers have a black band and red patches in the end. The bill is horned-colored, the feet are greeish-gray. Female birds a duller in colors. They are also a little bit larger and heavier than the males. Rosy-faced Lovebirds achieve a weight up to 55 grams and a body-length up to 15 centimeters.

There are two subspecies: A. roseicollis roseicollis and the more bright colored A. roseicollis catumbella.

Rosy-faced Lovebirds achieve an age between 15 and 25 years. However, it is not known what the average lifespan in wilderness is, though it is assumed that is is shorter than in captivity.

Habitat and Range

The populations of Rosy-faced Lovebirds are centered in south-western Africa for example in Angola, Namibia and South Africa. The species prefer to live in hot and dry areas near to permanent standing water and are found up to elevations of 1500 meters above the sea level. As long as a few trees are provided the habitats can be relatively sparsely forested.

Behavior

Rosy-faced Lovebirds are quite social animals which most of the time live in small groups up to 5 individuals. If in certain times much food is available they sometimes flock together in groups up to 100 individuals. They are diurnal and rest at night. Over long distances they fly up to 58 kilometers per hour and this flight is repeatedly interrupted by gliding periods whereas over short distances they prefer to move by foot. Their strong feet and the strong beak provide the ability to climb up vertical walls. Climbing is also supported by wing beats.

Bathing in water is a part of their natural behavior. If it is cold weather they huddle to keep each other warm.

Vocalization consists of squarwks or rasping mechanical noise when a Rosy-faced Lovebird rubs its mandibles together. Sounds are used for communication in breeding periods and to maintain the pair bond. Preening is also a way for a lovebird to communicate with its partner.
Predators are tried to be frightened through offensive behavior. The Rosy-faced Lovebird straighten itself and screams and pretend to attack its enemy. If the single bird isn't successful other birds will help it to disperse the predator.

Diet

The diet of Rosy-faced Lovebirds consist of seeds and berries, which are picked up from the ground. Sometimes groups of Lovebirds plunder plantations.

Reproduction

The pair formation in this species may happen quite rapid, sometimes it occurs already in an age of 2 month. Some pair bonds are tied between siblings! Before a pair is connected the dominant female had to approve. To attract a female, a male imitates feeding movements and scratches her head. This behavior resembles the later procedures in the partnership. Furthermore the male bird creeps toward the female sideways. This process is called sliding. If it isn't successful in the first try the male repeats this movement from the other side.

The nest is built in a rock crevice or in compartments of a communal nest built, for example, by Sociable Weavers. Man made breeding places as roofs of houses are also used. In captivity they also built their nest on their own. Between February and April the female lays 4 to 6 white eggs. Incubation lasts approximately 23 days and is mostly done by the mother bird. Then the young lovebirds hatch and are feed my regurgitated food from their mother, which was brought to nest by the male. Therefore the hatchlings eat food, that is two times regurgitated: Once by the male and once by the female. Later they get the food in a whole. After 43 days the young lovebirds fledge. Now they are completely feathered and able to fly.

Conservation Status

Because the populations are still estimated to be large numbered the species is evaluated as Least Concern on the Red List of Threatened Animals of the IUCN. However, the number of Rosy-faced Lovebirds decreases. Besides the loss of habitat there has been a historical decline due to trapping of thousands of birds, which were exported because of their popularity as pets in the whole world. It is assumed that this trade contributed to the past reductions.

Lovebirds and humans

Humans were always fascinated by this beautiful and exotic colored bird. When humans started to domesticate lovebirds thousands of birds were trapped and exported, which caused a dramatic declining in the number of populations. Many people love to own and train this intelligent and playful bird. Each individual Rosy-faced Lovebird has a unique character thus it is a challenge for people to domesticate them and teach them some tricks.

Already in the Middle Ages the ownership of parrots was a symbol of wealth and power. And also the training of these animals became a popular hobby. Due to the spreading of this habit Rosy-faced Lovebirds are commercially bred in huge numbers.

In countries, where the Rosy-faced Lovebird is endemic, the inhabitants aren't only in favor of this bird. If the birds flock together in large numbers to search for food, they can severely damage the farmers’ crop yield.

Short Facts

  • When much food is available the birds flock together in large numbers. Therefor for humans they are often a pest, plundering farmlands.

  • Like people are right- or left-handed they tend to using one foot more than the other.

  • Besides Woodpeckers and birds of the Corvidae family lovebirds belong to one of the most intelligent order of all birds: Parrots

  • Rosy-faced Lovebirds form a lifelong pair bond in the age of 2 month.