Breeding success with Red-faced Lovebird

Notices from 2018, 2019 and 2020

Notice of 31.03.2018: News from the winter breeding season 2017/18

A pair of Western Red-faced Lovebirds, also known as Red-headed Lovebird, the nominate species (Agapornis pullarius pullarius). The male on the left and the female on the right.

The 2017/18 winter breeding season is drawing to a close, and for the 3rd year in a row it has been possible for me to get offspring of the Western Red-faced Lovebird (Agapornis p. pullarius), which, among other things, due to its very special breeding biology, by many aviculturists is considered the perhaps the most difficult parrot species to breed in human care. At the same time, there is a high mortality among the chicks and juvenile birds, but with each successful breeding history, the experience of handling this in many contexts fragile, but fantastically beautiful representative of the African Lovebird genus (Agapornis) increases. This season’s breedings have also taken place within the framework of the Danish Parrot Conservation Initiative (DPCI), which aims to target and systematically work with the conservation of selected parrot species that are either rare in the wild, or are rare in human care, as they only are found in a small number among aviculturists and thus are vulnerable. This year's offspring, like the offspring of previous seasons, are included in the strain of birds that DPCI is building to establish the Red-headed Lovebird as a regular breeding bird in a Danish context.

Notice of 06.01.2019: 2nd generation breeding of the Western Red-faced Lovebird

A newly fledged chick of Western Red-faced Lovebird (Agapornis pullarius pullarius). A female bird.

The 2018/19 breeding season for my Western Red-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis p. pullarius) is not over yet, but it can already be stated that it is the most successful breeding season so far in the last 4 years ago since I back in 2015/16 for the first time managed to breed this species. Every year since then I have raised viable young of this species, but this season has gone even better. Under the auspices of DPCI (Danish Parrot Conservation Initiative (see separate article about DPCI elsewhere on this time I succeeded in breeding the Red-headed Lovebird in the 2nd generation of 2 different unrelated pairs, which I myself have previously bred. In other words, it is my own young that are now included in my stock of breeding pairs alongside the already established breeding pairs. It is notorious that chicks of the Red-headed Lovebird are generally very vulnerable, especially in the days immediately after the chicks have hatched and in the first months after the chicks have flown from the nest. Based on my several years of work with this species, it is unfortunately also my experience that you cannot be sure that the young birds will survive until they have passed their first year of life.

Co-founder and member of the steering committee for DPCI, Jytte Jensen, states: "2. generation's breeding of the Red-faced Lovebird, even by 2 different pairs at the same time, must be considered a unique milestone in the efforts to establish this difficult-to-manage Agapornis species in the Danish aviculture, and it testifies to the long-term perspective and the commitment, which DPCI is purposefully working towards in terms of breeding selected rare/endangered parrot species”.

Year by year I learn more and more about this species, which has very special requirements for successful breeding. So, it is a learning process over time, which means that fateful choices and mistakes can be minimized, so that as many young as possible can be caught during a breeding season.

It is emphasized that DPCI works exclusively with natural regeneration of rare and endangered parrots under protected conditions, as it helps to ensure the natural instincts of the offspring and thus has the possibility of long-term survival, since the young birds from the start of their lives thus, among other things, is equipped with the parent birds' natural immune system.

One of the young from the current breeding season can be seen in the photo above.

Notice of 29.01.2020: For the 5th year in a row, successful breeding of Western Red-faced Lovebird

Newly fledged chicks of Western Red-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis pullarius pullarius)

a total of 3 together with their parents. Note the worn plumage of the mother bird, which often occurs when she spends several weeks digging a tunnel and nest chamber in the cork material placed in the nest box.

For the fifth year in a row, I have succeeded in breeding young Western Red-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis pullarius pullarius). This small film clip shows one of my breeding pairs with its 3 chicks from this breeding season (2019/2020). The plumage of both parent birds, especially the female bird, is worn and has become almost brownish after both birds have spent several weeks in a nest chamber, to which they gain access via a long tunnel, which the female bird in particular has gnawed through cork.

Outside the breeding season, both parents are perfect in their plumage. You have to be extremely patient when working with this, the most beautiful Agapornis species. It is thus an expression of a targeted and long-term effort, which now gives me success year after year in breeding this parrot species, which has a very special breeding biology.

It is a wonderful sight to see the parents with their 3 perfect and vital cubs. In order to achieve a successful breeding result, it is extremely important that the birds are completely calm during the breeding season. Among other things, you must not disturb the birds with too much cleaning during the breeding period; this is one of the reasons why you can still see fig remains on the perch, as my breeding pairs consume large quantities of figs while raising their young.


Jorgen Petersen

Conceived/Updated: 31.03.2018 / 15.01.2024