Order: Psittaciformes - parrots and cockatoos
Family: Psittacidae - parrots
Scientific Name: Agapornis fischeri
Description: Fischer’s lovebird is a short, stocky, large-headed bird. The beak is curved with a wide base and sharp tip, and the legs are short. Like many other parrots, this lovebird is very colorful. The beak and forehead are bright red, with less intense red-orange on the rest of the head. The throat is yellowish pink, and the breast and belly are green. The back, wings, and tail are brighter green, and the upper tail feathers are dark blue. There is a white ring around the eye. Males and females look alike. They are 5 ½ inches from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail.
Home Range: Northern Tanzania.
Habitat Type: Wooded grasslands, and riverine forest in dry season.
Reproduction: Fischer’s lovebirds breed in colonies, with many pairs nesting close together. They usually form life-long pair bonds. They nest in dead trees (or in the dead branches of living trees), using old woodpecker or barbet holes or natural cracks in the trees as nesting cavities. Within the cavity, the female builds a roofed nest with an opening in the side. The nest is made of long twigs and strips of bark, which the female carries in her beak to the nesting site. Fischer’s lovebirds usually lay 3-8 small white eggs in each clutch. Incubation lasts approximately 23 days. The chicks are born with eyes closed and without down or feathers. During the first week after hatching, the female stays on the nest, while the male brings food to the nest. As the chicks develop feathers, they can be left alone for short periods of time, and both parents may leave the nest to forage. The chicks fledge after 38 days. Fischer’s lovebirds breed readily in captivity.
Diet in the Wild: Mostly seeds, also some fruits; flocks of more than a hundred may gather to feed on grain crops such as millet and maize.
Diet in the Zoo: Soft-billed bird diet, small bird maintenance, minced fruits and vegetables.
General Information: Fischer’s lovebirds are usually found in small flocks, except when gathering in large numbers to feed on crops. They usually rise before dawn and spend the early morning hours feeding. They use their strong beaks, well-developed tongues, and feet to manipulate seeds. During the hottest hours of the day, the birds spend most of their time resting and preening. In the late afternoons, they begin feeding again and usually visit a waterhole to drink and maybe to bathe. Just before sunset the flock begins the journey back to the roosting site. Although they build their own nests for breeding, Fischer’s lovebirds have been found roosting in weavers’ nests. They are very noisy, and their calls are usually heard before the birds can be seen. They call with a shrill whistle, and also make high-pitched twittering sounds.
Conservation Status: Fischer’s lovebirds are considered near-threatened. They have a very restricted range, but are common within that range and are sometimes considered to be pests by local farmers. They were once threatened by the pet trade, but they are now protected under CITES Appendix II, and their numbers appear to be rebounding.
Predators: Mostly birds of prey, also mammals and snakes.
A Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa. 1985. J.G. Williams and N. Arlott. Collins, London. p. 101.
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 4. 1997. Ed. J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. p. 280-339, 410.
Oakland Zoo website <www.oaklandzoo.org/atoz/azfishlove.html>
Parrots of the World, Ed. 2. 1978. J.M. Forshaw. Lansdowne Editions. pp. 318-320.