Bird of the week – Week 34 : Rosy-faced lovebird

I think that many people will agree that the Rosy-faced lovebird is one of the most beautiful birds to be found in Namibia. Unfortunately, as with many small birds, their beauty has resulted in them becoming very popular cage birds.  It is a fairly small bird, about 15 cm in length, and is very colourful. It is largely bright green, with a face, throat and breast that is rose-pink. The forehead and eyebrow are bright red and the rump is bright blue; legs and feet are grey; the bill yellowish and the eyes brown. It has a short tail, which adds to its dumpy appearance. Sexes are alike, although the red on the head of the males is brighter than that on the females.
It is classified as a “near-endemic” in the Southern African region, and its range lies almost totally within Namibia, overflowing a little in the north into Southern Angola and a little in the south into the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. They are locally common, preferring dry woodland areas and the woodlands that follow the watercourses in the dry countryside.
Lovebirds are very gregarious and occur in small flocks. Their flight is fast and for a reason that I can’t explain they remind me of a Spitfire! They drink regularly and several of the photos shown here were taken near waterholes.
Their diet consists of seeds and berries, and they can often be seen foraging through trees seeking out berries and even flowers. They are quite noisy birds that are often heard before they are seen as they fly past, screeching a shrill “shreek” that is quite distinctive.
Rosy-faced lovebirds are monogamous and are colonial breeders, building a cup-nest out of leaves and grass. Unlike most other birds, the female lovebird does not carry the material to build the nest in her bill, but tucks it into her rump feathers for the flight. Nests are built in rock crevices or in the chambers of a Sociable weaver’s nest (cheeky!). The female lays four to six dull white eggs and the chicks hatch after an incubation period of about 23 days.
The scientific name for the Rosy-faced lovebird is Agapornis roseicollis; Agapornis from the Greek for a lovebird and roseicollis from the Latin for a rose-coloured neck. Hence a lovebird with a rose-coloured neck. Well, it is the face that is red rather than the neck, but I suppose that is close enough.

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