The Abyssinian Lovebird


S tanley discovered and named this vibrant lovebird species after the beautiful Taranta Pass in Ethiopia in 1814, where even today it's known to be commonly found.

The rare Abyssinian Lovebird, also known as the Black-winged Lovebird is exceptionally quiet, unlike other lovebird species. Their scientific name is Agapornis Taranta. French Name(s):

Psittacula a masque rouge. German Name(s): Taranta Unzertrennlicher; Tarantapapagei; Bergpapagei. Dutch Name: Abessijne agapomis.

In 1906 Italian bird dealers are believed to have brought the first Abyssinians into Europe. Although it wasn't until 1909 that there is documentation of the first successful breeding.

In 1931, 0. Neuman named a smaller race Agapornis taranta nana. He also named another race of the Abyssinian, which in size is between the taranta and nana races. He found this bird in Schoa near the higher part of the Sobat River. This bird he named the Omo Inseparable and is the size of the Agapornis roseicollis. These races have not generally achieved subspecific recognition.

Helmut Hampe published the first photograph of this bird, called "Die Unzertrennlichen" in 1934.

Within the last few years Abyssinian breeders in the U.S.A. have just begun to make a worthwhile effort to keep this species alive and promises to see that its many different bloodlines continue to flourish. In the last couple of years two federally approved United States Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Breeding Programs have been bringing

imported birds into the U.S.A. I am the coordinator of CB034. Our European counterparts, especially in Amsterdam and Belgium have had great success with this species and have not been afraid to share their knowledge and experiences.

This species' iridescent green body feathers combined with their bright rich red beak grasps one's eye and attention for more than just a minute. Their natural behavior keeps their interest in many things such as toys and new foods which piques an aviculturist's constant attention and curiosity. This perky and active lovebird species keeps its caretaker's constant eye and attention, as there is always something new to learn about their behavior.

The largest of the nine species of lovebirds, Abyssinians measure in at 6.5 inches. They weigh about 40-65 grams. It doesn't appear that one sex is larger than the other.

It is also one of three sexually dimorphic lovebird species (this means that one can tell their sex by their feather colors). The other two dimorphic spoecies are the Madagascar (smallest lovebird) and the Red-faced.

In the Abyssinian, both sexes have bright red beaks but it is only the male that displays the bright red forehead. From the top of its beak to the middle top of its head and thinly lined around his eye are bright red feathers. It is a common thought among Abyssinian breeders that if a male and female display dark red beaks then they are considered to be in tip top breeding condition. Such as male budgerigars 

would display a dark rich blue cere and a female a dark brown one. Both sexes have black tipped tail feathers and gray legs.

Abyssinians display more parrotlike characteristics than any other lovebird. In Germany they are also called the Mountain Parrot. They tend to like to climb, swing, and hang upside down. Many will hold their food while eating, - peanuts held with their toes, for instance. I've also witnessed many spending a great deal of time on the cage bottom.

The "Abbys" for short, are very docile lovebirds. It's not uncommon for Abyssinian breeders to have a few tame birds even though they are not handfed or handled on a daily basis. For this reason they do great in bird shows, as they tend to stand extremely still and are not alarmed by sudden movement or loud noises.

This species is also very quiet.

Their chirp is more like a song than a disturbing chatter.

Prior to entering my bird room I make my "entrance call" to let my birds know I'm entering. Many times each Abyssinian pair will talk back to me and they don't seem to quiet down until I have given them individual one on one attention such as a kiss through the cage wire. They also seem to thoroughly enjoy grooming the hairs on my goatee and moustache.

Last year I added a pair to my aviary that had been bonded for about six years but had never produced for their original owner. My first observation was that they liked to hide in the nest box all the time. They appeared to 

be shy which is quite rare for this species. 1 took the nest box away and they soon became accustomed to my entrance call. Within months they produced two healthy clutches for me.

In the wild, Abyssinians tend to live in small groups and are found in the forests and mountain areas of southern Eritrea and the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia up to 9,000 feet.

This species enjoys raking a bath even in cold weather. Each morning when I change their water it seems that they are just waiting for me to close the cage door so that they can jump in and bathe.