The black-cheeked lovebird is one of the rarest variants of this species. It is known as the black-cheeked lovebird, although in some Spanish-speaking countries, it has also been nicknamed the lovebird.
At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1904, it was discovered in Zambia by Dr. Kirkman, who named it lovebird nigrigenis because of the black cheeks that characterize this bird so much. Often they are confused with the character and it is not a very easy bird to find.
Although easy to breed, they are not so easy to find in stores. Also, in captivity, it is said to be threatened by the few breeders dedicated to its expansion, so they can currently only be found in the African jungle.
Quite special characteristics
Although many say that it can be confused with the character of the lovebird, the truth is that it is quite easy to distinguish it from other birds of this species. For example, its size is one of the smallest of the species, reaching about 13.5 cm, although some specimens have reached 14 centimeters.
The tint of the forehead and head is a rusty brown tint, while on the cheeks it is a more blackish tint, due to its name. Its neck is orange, while the wings have an intense dark green color that ends in black.
Its body, as a rule, has a green tone, lighter on the wings than on the abdomen. Its eye-ring is white, while its beak has a not very intense reddish tone and the legs are gray.
Telling the age of a nigrigenis lovebird is easy from the hue of the beak, which is orange when young. However, differentiating it from the female is not so easy, since it does not show sexual dimorphism. To know the sex, you have to look at the pelvic bones, which will be more separated in the female.
There are some mutated variants of this breed, which have yellow tones throughout the body of blue, but the original is green.
Grey-headed Lovebird adopt
Although it is very difficult to find a variety, it is not entirely impossible and there are specialty stores that carry it. Also, his character is quite likable, unfortunately, he’s not as good a companion as the reoseicollis or the fischeri, but he does have it in his favor that he’s not as scary as the personata.
Being in the cage, he does not care about other birds and does not need the lovebird to be of the same breed. It is therefore not necessary to have it in a large aviary with other birds.
Black-cheeked lovebird is a bird that feeds mainly on seeds such as corn, sorghum, and millet, so it is good to give it a combination of these seeds. He also likes to eat plant foods, like lettuce as long as it’s chopped. To complete its diet, it is a good idea to give it insect larvae, placed on the ground so that it can hunt them itself.
Your cage should measure at least 60x40x80 centimeters because it is a bird that likes to fly a lot and needs enough space to be able to move in case it is not allowed to leave the cage. The spacing of the bars should not exceed one centimeter so that they cannot put their head between the bars.
It’s not a very demanding bird, but it is clean, so you’ll need to clean the cage often. Be careful not to place hangers near feeders or waterers as they can fill them with their droppings.
Black-cheeked lovebirds are endemic to southwestern Zambia, between the Kafue River in the north and the Zambezi River in the south.
Sightings have also been recorded in Botswana, and it is possible that they breed in northern Zimbabwe, although some authorities consider them extinct in the latter region.
These lovebirds mainly occupy the Mopane forest, but they are also found in Acacia woods and agricultural areas, where there are permanent reserves of surface water, as they need daily access to water. . During the dry season, they may congregate in large groups of 800 or more individuals.
This species is fairly common in parts of its small range, but it is vulnerable as its small population is in continuing decline likely caused by the gradual reduction or disappearance of water bodies in its very localized range.
Vocalizations are loud, piercing cries or high-pitched, shrill chattering. However, their calls are not as penetrating as those of other lovebird species.
- The black-cheeked lovebird is slightly smaller than Fischers members or masked members of the “eye ring” or “personata” group. (The eye rings are named after the featherless white rings around the eyes). The adult is on average 13 to 14 cm long (including its short tail) and weighs between 40 and 45 grams.
- Black-cheeked lovebird plumage is mostly green, its face is black, its forehead and crown are reddish-brown, its cheeks and throat are brownish-black, the orange patch under the throat changes to yellowish-green, and its feet are gray.
- Adults have a bright red beak, while juveniles of the species are similar but with a more orange beak. Juveniles are dull in color until the end of the first molt. Young birds have black markings at the base of their beak.
- Mutations: Black-Cheekeds have no confirmed (true) mutations. The mutations that are generally available in the market are hybrids of the black-cheeked bug and the masked bug. That being said, a striking blue mutation has been reported – but its purity has yet to be confirmed.
SOURCE: Alejandro Mola García-Galán
The black-cheeked beetle feeds mainly at ground level on annual grass seeds, but also on other plant matter and insect larvae, as well as corn, sorghum, and millet.
Captive lovebirds should be fed seeds, in addition to providing them with vegetables and fruits (apples, berries, etc.). It is recommended to supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals. Bird-specific vitamins are available from veterinarians or pet stores. Mineral Blocks and Cuttlebone should be provided year-round.
Drinking water and fresh bathing water should also be available to them at all times.
Black-cheeked lovebirds are relatively easy to keep, but having only recently been established in aviculture, they are not as hardy as other more established lovebird species.
This is probably due to the extensive inbreeding of the existing stock due to their low numbers. This may explain the decline in fertility, low hatchability of fertile eggs, poor survival of young, and increased susceptibility to disease.
They usually begin breeding at 10 to 12 months of age and may continue until they are five or six years old.
Black-cheeked lovebirds are docile and peaceful by nature and breed in colonies; however, overcrowding can be stressful. It is also important to keep in mind that during mating season the male displays more aggressive behavior.
Compatible black-cheeked lovebirds can be prolific breeders, potentially producing three broods in a season. However, they should be allowed to rest between clutches to avoid clear eggs, dead-in-shell eggs, and weak and exhausted parents, and to avoid health problems in the female in particular.
The breeding season usually begins in March or April. Before the start of the breeding season, nest boxes should be inspected and thoroughly cleaned. There are birdhouses for lovebird-sized birds, but if they are not available, a cockatiel-shaped birdhouse will do. Old nesting material should be replaced with a clean substrate (hay, peat, moss, etc.).
The hen will likely add fine twigs, bark, and feathers to line the nest box. The Black-cheeked lovebird male can help in the construction of the nest. Once the nest box is prepared to their liking, courtship, and copulation take place.
The male’s behavior usually consists of frequently scratching his head, then rolling over on the perch in front of his female. The hen crouches on the perch with both wings outstretched, inviting the male to mate with her. The pair are seen regurgitating food and feeding on each other.
Before laying eggs, the female’s excrement is larger and more watery. She spends more time with the cuttlefish to acquire the calcium she needs for egg production.
Once laying begins, the hen lays on different dates. The average clutch size is 3-6 eggs and the hen incubates the eggs for about 21-23 days. The female only leaves the nest to feed or relieve herself. The male enters the nest box to feed the female.
Newly hatched chicks are covered in pink down. Their eyes are closed and remain so for about 10 days. During this period, the parents are very protective of their nest and are easily disturbed by nest inspections, which should be kept to a minimum. When the young are in the nest, they must be provided with rearing food. Young sweet corn in the milky stage is eagerly accepted.
The young will be cared for by the female until they leave the nest at around six weeks of age. The father then takes charge of feeding the youngsters for about two more weeks until they are weaned.
Black-cheeked lovebird is best to provide weaned young with their own nest box. One way to identify compatible couples is to allow them to unite and mate naturally. It is possible to find true, compatible pairs sleeping together in a nest box before they are old enough to breed.
At the end of the breeding season, the nest boxes should be cleaned, the ground covered with a suitable substrate, and returned to the aviary for the birds to roost in and keep warm during the winter.
Strapping should be done when the chicks are 12-14 days old. The chicks will leave the nest box at around 42 days of age when they are fully feathered and able to fly.
Once the female has started laying again, it is best to remove the weaned young.
Flight perches should be natural branches of varying sizes, which is essential for healthy legs.
Training and Behavioral Guidance
As this insect is highly endangered, experts would like any black-cheeked insect in captivity to be placed in a well-managed breeding program to ensure the survival of the species.
However, if an individual is not able to reproduce and you consider it a pet, the following points may be of interest.
Lovebirds are pretty easy to deal with for most people. They are not as destructive and noisy as their larger cousins. However, if they are not properly socialized, they will find that their beak is a method of “disciplining us”.
It is really important to learn to understand them and guide their behavior before unwanted behavior is established. There are a few things to consider…
- Biting: If they are not properly socialized, they will find that their beak is a method of “disciplining us”. They can be very aggressive towards other animals (including birds), if they don’t know them or are jealous of the attention they receive from their favorite human.
- Noise: Lovebirds are very noisy birds, making loud, high-pitched noises that can be annoying. They make noise all day, but especially at certain times of the day.
- Chewing: As stated above, lovebirds are also very active and love to chew on things. When they are let out of their cage, it would be wise to watch them carefully and protect furniture, electrical wires, or anything else they might chew on. They are not great chewers, as their preferred medium is “paper”.
- Paper: They love to tear paper, especially when they’re in the “mating” mood, which is the case all year round for birds kept indoors (not exposed to the seasons). I learned not to leave important papers lying around – and even to use them to occupy my dove.