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Agapornis { Lovebirds } Agelaioides, Agelaius. A-Z of Bird genera

Updated on January 8, 2016

Agapornis fischeri



In this series 'A-Z of Bird genera' we look at the species of birds that make up the various genera. These species occur throughout the world and are diverse in size, shape and form and inhabit a plethora of habitat. here we look at the genera Agapornis, Agelaioides, and Agelaius.

We commence with the genus Agapornis

Rosy faced Lovebird

Taken in Namibia Africa.
Taken in Namibia Africa. | Source

A chick reared in captivity


Rosy faced Lovebirds

Taken in Namibia Africa.
Taken in Namibia Africa. | Source

The genus Agapornis

The genus Agapornis, consists of nine species collectively known as 'Lovebirds', which will be very familiar with bird keepers and some species are very popular pets. Through selective breeding there are many colour variations in such species. They belong to the family Psittaculidae {sub-family Agapornithinge} in the order of birds known as the Pssitaciformes, {Parrots}. Of the nine species , eight are native to the mainland continent of Africa and one to Madagascar.

Traditionally Lovebirds are divided into three groups, however, there is still a dispute about the groupings among Ornithologists. Some of the species have recognized sub-species which will become evident in the text. We commence with the Rosy-faced Lovebird.

Agapornis roseicollis is the Rosy-faced Lovebird, which is also referred to by the alternative common names of 'Rosy collared Lovebird' and 'Peach-faced Lovebird' . It is native to the arid regions of southwestern Africa. This bird is about six inches long, with a general green plumage with a peach coloured face and a blue rump. The bill is horn coloured and parrot-like. The face is a rose or peach colour. Both sexes are alike.

Although they are native to Africa this popular cage bird has been introduced to many countries where there have been inevitable escapes, which have formed small populations in the wild. This undoubtedly is the best loved and most popular species in the USA and sizeable populations occur in Pheonix, Arizona. They are known to nest in Palm Trees and Saguaro Cacti. in captivity they may live for twenty years or more. These birds are bred in a variety of colours in captivity.

In their native state they occur on rocky hillsides, Woodland, semi-desert and mountainous terrain. they may be encountered in flocks of up to thirty birds. It is a species that is easily confused with the Red-faced Lovebird.

The nest building is undertaken almost entirely by the female and three to six eggs are laid which are incubated for a period of about twenty three days. The chicks are cared for by the female until they are ready to leave the nest. Then the father takes over the care of the brood until they are independent in a further two weeks or so.

Anyone interested in keeping this species as an aviary bird or want to know how to care for them, can find out all they need to know by visiting

Agapornis personatus


Eggs of Agapornis personatus

Taken at a Museum in Germany
Taken at a Museum in Germany | Source

Blur Mutations from selective breeding


Yellow-collared Lovebird

Agapornis personatus, is the yellow collared Lovebird, referred to by the alternative names of 'Masked Lovebird', 'Black-masked Lovebird' and ' Eye-ring lovebird'. They are birds native to north east Tanzania, with introductions occurring in Burundi and Kenya.

They are about five and a half inches long with a predominantly green plumage. The upper parts are darker green than the green on the lower parts. The head and face are black with a distinctive white eye-ring. The parrot -like bill is red.It also has a yellow-coloured collar which extends to the nape and downwards to the breast. The sexes are identical and impossible to separate in the field.

This species nests in tree-holes and cavities,where the female deposits four to five white eggs. the task of incubating the eggs is carried out by the female for a period of about twenty three days. The chicks are cared for by both parents and are ready to leave the nest in a further forty to forty three days after hatching.

It is another popular species in captivity. However, this species requires a large aviary with perches located at various heights and of diverse range of sizes. Through selective breeding a range of colour mutations has been achieved. This ird is more aggressive than other species and a careful eye must be kept on them,especially during the breeding season,so that injuries do not occur due to territorial disputes.

This species was only discovered in the late 1800's and were not imported until the 1920's.In their native state they inhabit the inland plateaus of northern and central Tanzania where they occur in brushwood and trees. There are no current conservation concerns.

Agapornis fischeri

Taken at a Zoo in Japan
Taken at a Zoo in Japan | Source

Fischer's Lovebird

Agapornis fischeri is commonly referred to as Fischer's Lovebird, and was originally discovered during the 1800's. Records reveal that they were first bred in the USA in 1926. The specific name was attributed to the German explorer Gustav Fischer.

This species is also about five and half inches long and predominantly green colouring including the back,chest and wings. The yellow on the neck becomes orange as it progresses upwards. The crown is olive green, the beak is bright red. There is a distinctive white circle of bare skin around the eyes. The upper parts of the tail have a purplish-blue tints.

As with other birds in captivity that have been selectively bred colour variations occur, including blue and yellow mutants. The sexes are alike . In its natural state it occurs in small areas of east central Africa,and south and south-east of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania. They are encountered at elevations of one to two thousand metres generally in small flocks. Their habitat consists of open grassland between isolated groups of trees.

The flight is fast and direct and they are very vocal birds They eat a variety of food which includes fruits and seeds. In cultivated areas they may come into conflict with growers and farmers. They nest in holes in trees choosing a hole or a cavity about ten metres from the ground. The eggs are white and the the female will deposit about four or five,but the number varies with records of as many as eight being recorded. The task of incubation is undertaken by the female for a period of about twenty two to twenty five days and the chicks will leave the nest in a further thirty eight to forty two days.

Due to pressures on the population which are readily taken for the pet trade this species is classed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Other Lovebirds of conservation concern

Other Lovebirds of conservation concern are the Lilian's Lovebird Agapornis lilianae,regarded as being the smallest parrot on mainland Africa,is classed as Near Threatened due to habitat loss. The Black-cheeked Lovebird, Agapornis nigrigonis, endemic to a relatively small range in south-west Zambia is as being Vulnerable due to habitat loss.

Other species pictured below are of least concern. Other species of least concern are Black collared Lovebird . Agapornis swindernianus,which occurs in southern Eritrea and south-western Ethiopia, and Red-headed Lovebird Agapornis pullarius,which occurs in large parts of Central Africa.

Grey headed Lovebird Agapornis canus

Taken in Madagascar.
Taken in Madagascar. | Source

Black-winged Lovebird Agapornis taranto


Agelaioides badius The Greyish Baywing

Image taken in Brazil
Image taken in Brazil | Source

The Pale Baywing


The genus Agelaioides

The genus Agelaioides consists of Two species of South American birds commonly known as the Baywings. They belong to the family Icteridae in the large order of birds known as the Passeriformes {perching birds}.

We commence with the Greyish{ Grayish} Baywing Agelaioides badius,sometimes referred to as the Baywing Cowbird,and, until recently it was placed in the genus Molothrus. It occurs in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern and central Brazil. Its primary plumage colour is an ashy-brown-white,the lores are black the wings a rufous colour. It is about seven inches long. They are often encountered in small groups.

They inhabit a wide range of semi-open habitat,including scrub and light woodland. Unlike the true Cowbirds they are not brood parasites,indeed they are victims of such activity carried out by the 'Screaming Cowbird'.

The nest of other species seem to utilized and they have been recorded building their own nests in Vines, Palm trees and in Cavities. The nest of other species chosen are usually domed. When they build their open they construct a nest of grass and fibres within a structure or cavity Once the nest is built there is usually a period of inactivity before the first egg is laid.

Eventually the female will deposit three to four eggs which she will incubate for a period of thirteen to fourteen days. The male will feed his mate while she is undertaken the task. The egg has a ground colouring of greyish often with pinkish white or more rarely bluish-green markings visible, any spotting on the shell has a reddish tinge.

The chicks are fed by both parents and the main diet for them includes grasshoppers,mantids, stink bugs and caterpillars. Other food includes seeds and invertebrates such as beetles, butterfly larvae and flies. They are ready to leave the nest in a further fourteen days but may well be undertaken when just twelve days have passed.

The other species in this genus, is the Pale-winged Baywing { Pale Cowbird } Agelaioides fringillarius. This was once considered to be a sub-species of the previous species but most authorities now believe it is a species in its own right. It occurs in north eastern Brazil primarily found in Caatinga and Cerrado.

The Red-winged Blackbird showing the red patches very well

Deb gave me her kind permission to use this image
Deb gave me her kind permission to use this image | Source

Red -Winged Blackbird

Deb Hirt,  has given me her kind permission to use this image.
Deb Hirt, has given me her kind permission to use this image. | Source

The genus Agelaius

The genus Agellaius, is a genus of Blackbirds in the same family { Iteridae} } as the previous two species above. The species we are to review are birds that occur in most of North and much of Central America. We commence with the red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus,. It is probably the most familiar and best known and certainly the most studied of this group as regards to its behaviour.

This species takes its common name from its primarily black plumage and the males distinctive red patches which are visible when the bird is flying or displaying. However, the female has a rather brown broken by various dull white markings.

The nesting period is undertaken in loose colonies, the nest itself being constructed by the female. It is an open cup structure in the form of a basket which is secured to the branches. It is composed of grasses, sedge, and mosses lined with mud. It is generally located about ten to sixteen feet from the ground, in Alder or Willow. When the nest is completed the female will deposit three to four eggs, smooth and slightly glossy. They have a pale bluish -green background colouring marked by brown, purple or black spotting primarily concentrated at the large end of the shell.

The female alone undertakes the task of incubation, a period that lasts for about twelve days. Born helpless, the chicks are fed a nourishing diet , and are ready to leave the nest in a further eleven to fifteen days. They may raise two to three broods per season and a new nest is constructed for each one.

This species inhabits open grassy areas, generally preferring wetlands and is known to occur in both freshwater and saltwater marshes. However, it is also found in dry upland areas where it may be encountered in meadows on prairies and old established fields. They feed on a diet of plant material, seeds and grain, but also supplemented in some degree by insects and snails, even frogs carrion, worms and spiders are all consumed with some relish.

Only the birds that occur in the northern parts of their range tend to migrate while the majority will remain as residents. There are a number of sub-species, however, many are disputed among taxonomy authorities. They are not a species of conservation concern

The Red-Shouldered Blackbird Agelaius assimillis, is a related species endemic to Cuba.

Tricoloured Black bird Aeglaius tricolor.

Taken in California
Taken in California | Source

Aeglaius tricolor

Aeglaius tricolor, is the Tri-Coloured Blackbird, is species which is isolated in the coastal regions of the Pacific coast of North America, from northern California to the upper Baja California in Mexico. It is predominantly black with a greyish black bill. There is a red mark on the shoulder which runs into a curved white marking on the wing.

It is a species that is classed as endangered. The USFWS is undertaking a conservation plan on behalf of the species.

Tawny shouldered Blackbird

Taken in Cuba.
Taken in Cuba. | Source

Two other species

The Tawny -shouldered Blackbird, Aegelaius humeralis, is found in Cuba and also occurs in Haiti and sometimes encountered as a vagrant to the United States. It is almost entirely black with a brown/orange patch on the shoulder from which its common name derives. Its natural habitat is the sub-tropical or tropical dry shrub-land pasture and heavily degraded area of forest areas. There are no current conservation concerns.

The Yellow -shouldered Blackbird, Aeglaius xanthornus, is endemic to the Archipelago of Puerto Rica. It is another predominantly black plumaged bird with a distinctive yellow shoulder patch. The sexes are identical. This species is almost entirely insectivorous.. There are two sub-species recognized. Because of habitat loss the bird is classed as being endangered.

It is worth noting that the Blackbirds mentioned above must not be confused with the European Blackbirds that belong to the Turdidae family and a completely different genus.

Yellow-shouldered blackbird. This species is endangered

Image from Wikipedia
Image from Wikipedia | Source


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    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hi Deb, your pictures would grace any hub, I am delighted that you enjoyed this piece. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I am honored that you wanted to use my pics in this piece, which I enjoyed from start to finish.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Thank you for your kind comments. Best wishes to you.


      Hello Devika, Your comments make the effort worth while, thank you and for your tweet both of which are truly appreciated. Best wishes to you.

    • Mickji profile image

      Mickji 2 years ago from between Italy and Switzerland, travelling around the world thanks to a little special object

      I think the rosy faced lovebird is the sweetest one. Compliments for your Hub, I enjoyed it very much!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I Tweeted! Beautiful photos and in detail. I enjoy reading your hubs. You put out great effort and so much to learn from your hubs. Thank you.


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