Agapornis fischeri (*)
Agapornis fischeri Reichenow, 1887
The Fischer's Lovebird (Agapornis fischeri) is a small parrot species of the Lovebird genus. They were originally discovered in the late 19th century, and were first bred in the United States in 1926. They are named after German explorer Gustav Fischer.
The Fischer's Lovebird has a green back, chest, and wings. Their necks are a golden yellow and as it progresses upward it becomes darker orange. The top of the head is olive green, and the beak is bright red. The upper surface of the tail has some purple or blue feathers. It has a white circle of bare skin (eyering) around its eyes. Young birds are very similar to the adults, except for the fact that they are duller and the base of their mandible has brown markings. They are one of the smaller lovebirds, about 14 cm (5.5 in) in length and 43-58g weight.
Distribution and habitat
Fischer's Lovebird are native to a small area of east-central Africa, south and southeast of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania. In drought years, some birds move west into Rwanda and Burundi seeking moister conditions. They live at elevations of 1,100-2,200m in small flocks. They live in isolated clumps of trees with grass plains between them. The population is estimated to be between 290,000-1,000,000, with low densities outside of protected areas due to capture for the pet trade; export licenses were suspended in 1992 to halt any further decline in the species.
Fischer's Lovebird has a fast, straight flight, and the sound of their wings as they fly can be heard. Like all Lovebirds, they are very vocal and when they do make noise they have a high-pitched chirp and can be very noisy.
Food and feeding
Fischer's Lovebirds eat a wide variety of foods, including seeds and fruit. They sometimes are pests to farmers, as they eat their crops such as maize and millet.
The breeding season is January through April and June through July. The nest is in a hole in a tree 2 to 15 metres above the ground. The eggs are white and there are usually four or five in a clutch, but there could be as few as three or as many as eight. The female incubates the eggs for 23 days, and the chicks fledge from the nest about 38–42 days after hatching.
Fischer's Lovebird is kept in captivity. Lovebirds are social, and are difficult to keep alone. The sexes of Agapornis fischeri appear the same, and are distinguished with certainty through DNA testing, and less certainly by their habits in perching. Generally, females sit with their legs further apart than males.
While most Fischer's Lovebirds are green, several color variations have been bred. The blue variation is predominant; lacking yellow, it has a bright blue back, tail, and chest, a white neck, a pale grey head and a pale pink beak. This mutation was first bred by R. Horsham in South Africa in 1957, and two years later it was bred by Dr. F. Warford in San Francisco, California. There is a yellow mutation, which first appeared in France. These birds are typically pale yellow with an orange face and a red beak. Lutino (a mutation that is yellow in color), pied, black or dark eyed white, cinnamon, white, and albino mutations have also been bred.
Fischer's Lovebirds are very active and require a roomy cage. They also require lots of toys and things to chew on and play with. Without a roomy cage (a minimum of 20 x 20 x 30 inches / 50 x 50 x 75 cm for one bird, 25 x 25 x 30 inches / 65 x 65 x 75 cm for a pair. Do not buy a round cage either, as they do not properly give a lovebird a corner to hide in when they feel insecure). Without enough toys (4-6) and things to play with they may get bored, depressed and may even go as far as feather-plucking, which can be difficult to stop. It is also a good idea to provide a bird bath tub, as they love to take baths almost every day. After bathing they like to sun themselves in order to dry off. However, they should not be near any windows, or they may become sick.[specify]
Fischer's Lovebirds in captivity require a varied diet, including pellets, fruits, seeds, grains, sprouts, and vegetables. Pellets specifically processed for lovebirds are recommended by some avian veterinarians and avian nutritionists, rather than the millet food that is usually sold in pet stores, as this is claimed to contain too much fat and lack nutritional balance.
An opposing view is that a seed-based diet, supplemented by the aforementioned green foods is sufficient to maintain health and vitality, however an all-seed diet may lead to health problems, including fatty liver disease. Some pellets may contain artificial coloring or the preservatives ethoxyquin and BHT/BAT, which are considered toxic.
Each lovebird has their own individual personality, but some generalizations can be made. At first they are very timid and will get spooked by sudden movements, loud noises, or new things, even small ones. One should be very careful not to scare them too much, which can interfere with their taming. Lovebirds are very smart and may even figure out how to open the door of their cage and get out.
Many owners believe the female birds, which are slightly larger, are more intelligent than the males. They are also generally more aggressive, and more likely to be territorial.
Adding to their intelligence, once they are tame and comfortable, they are very curious. If they are allowed outside their cage, one should take great care to safeguard the house by not letting them fly around the kitchen with the stove on, around any wires, around places where they could get stuck, such as behind the refrigerator, etc. A house can be a very dangerous place for lovebirds; additionally lovebirds can be rough on a house. They are avid chewers, have strong beaks and can quickly cause damage.
They also like to be clean, often preening their feathers and regularly taking baths. If let outside their cage, they may even fly to other places in order to defecate. Newspaper should be placed below their favorite areas for easy cleanup.
Fischer's lovebirds when tame make engaging pets. They are lively, curious and playful, and when out of their cage constantly explore their environment. While they are not cuddly, and do not like to be touched, they can become affectionate and quite attached to humans. They can enjoy perching on their owners, "preening" their hair and clothing, and, of course, chewing on clothing, buttons, watches, and jewellery. They are nippy, and will bite fingers and hands, sometimes aggressively, though more often simply for the pleasure of chewing something new. For some people their constant energy and constant nibbling can be off-putting, and some consider Fischer's to be better aviary birds than companion pets. Others are smitten by their single-minded exuberance.
If kept in cages it is vital that they are provided new toys on a regular basis, and frequent opportunities to explore outside of their cages, and to stretch their wings. Because of their intelligence they are liable to boredom and depression if not interacted with regularly.
Buying hand fed Fischer's lovebirds can be quite expensive, but if one wants pets to interact with, it is recommended. Because they are very timid at first, great patience is required to tame non hand fed lovebirds. With females they are much easier to tame as the males can be very timid and stubborn. Taming them enough to climb on your finger (which they don't like very much) or to get them to fly to your shoulder (which they prefer) can take years.
Lovebirds (in general) are not known for their talking ability, although there are some lovebirds that do learn words - the females are usually the ones that do this. As is the case when many smaller parrots, the "voice" of lovebirds is high-pitched and raspy and it may be difficult to understand their speech.
Lovebirds are very vocal birds, making loud, high-pitched noises that can be a nuisance. They make noise all day, but especially at certain times of day. That said, Fischer's are not quite as loud as some other lovebird varieties, and while they cheep frequently, they do not scream like the larger parrots. Their noise level increases substantially when they are engaged in pre-mating rituals.
As stated above, lovebirds are also extremely active, and love to chew things. It is wise to observe the birds carefully when let out of their cage, and to protect any furniture, or anything they have access to.
Fischer's Lovebirds, like many captive birds, can suffer from feather-plucking if they get bored or stressed. This is more likely to occur with single lovebirds than those kept in pairs or groups. To prevent this, the lovebirds should be provided with a wide array of toys to play with and chew on. They should have a roomy cage, and should be shown affection if they enjoy it. After feather-plucking starts, it is very hard to stop the habit. Some lovebirds do not respond to attempted treatments, and will continue to pluck their feathers for life. Providing them with plenty of toys and giving them more opportunities for entertainment will often reduce or stop the habit.
Lovebirds are notorious for attempting to build nests, especially during mating season - for this reason, loose material such as shredded paper and fabric do not make suitable toys at certain times of year, as the lovebirds could see it as nest-making material and attempt to mate. Breeding is not something that should be attempted by someone without lots of experience. "Huts" or hiding places and small enclosures are also not good for the same reason.
Fischer's Lovebirds are prone to a mysterious disease characterized by having brownish to creamish patches in their feet and legs, which is probably an infection as a result of their obsessive biting of those areas. It is not known what causes this disease. One hypotheses is that they suffer from hormonal problems caused by changing light levels and the inability to perform things Fischer's lovebirds in the wild would naturally perform, such as building a nest. Another hypothesis is that it is caused by a pathogen. If the signs are detected, fischer's lovebirds should immediately be taken to the vet. Treatments usually involve antibiotics for the wounds, and some way to stop them from continuing the biting of the area. This can sometimes be accomplished with sedatives. Use of the Elizabeth collar should be an option of last resort, as wearing them is extremely stressful both to the bird wearing the collar and to the birds around it. Some lovebirds may start feather-plucking as a result of the stress.
Female lovebirds are prone to egg-binding, an often fatal condition in which an egg cannot be laid as it gets caught in the reproductive tract. It is thought that egg binding often occurs due to a lack of liquid calcium in the diet, which causes a softer shell. To prevent this females, particularly those kept in pairs, should be given calcium supplementation in their water from a young age. Additionally, egg binding appears more likely amongst younger birds; to avoid egg binding females in captivity should be prevented from engaging in mating behaviours until at least one year of age.
Lovebirds are also known to be nippy and bossy. Although this can be seen as amusing and endearing by many owners, some do not like it; a lovebird, while a nice pet, is not for everyone. They bite very hard and love to test their limits - if the owner does not set them early on, he or she will have a bird that bites to get their way.
Fischer's Lovebirds show no sexual dimorphism, and it is impossible to tell whether an individual is male or female through plumage alone.
1. ^ BirdLife International (2004). Agapornis fischeri. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is near threatened
* del Hoyo et al. (1997). Handbook of the birds of the World 4: 410. BirdLife International / Lynx Edicions.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License