The Rare Lovebirds ... A Future Focus & Breeding the Tui Parakeet


~re are nine species in the


genus l~~apornis, six of which are categorized as the "rares." They are Madagascar A. cana, Abyssinian A. taranta, Nyasa A. lilinae, Black-cheeked A. nigrigensis, Red-faced A. pullaria and Black-collared A. sunnderniana.

The Black-collared is unknown in American aviculture. The remaining five species are infrequently kept and considered more difficult to breed and maintain than the Peach-faced, Masked or Fisher's Lovebirds. For this reason, it has become of paramount importance that experienced breeders specializing in these birds work together to maintain genetic diversity. The quantities of some of these birds in aviculture is alarmingly low and failure to outcross to new bloodlines can eventually lead to the bird's disappearance from our aviaries.

In this upcoming series of articles, I have attempted to gather information from experts on each of the respective species. I have been fortunate enough to breed all the rares except the Redfaced (although I'm still trying) and the Black-collared. In researching these articles, I was amazed how the methods used in attaining breeding success had some similarities, but also a great deal of variance. Understand, there is no right or wrong; success is success! I will try not to editorialize and allow you to draw your own conclusions. Besides my own experience, spoke at length with Barbara Broske of Florida, Ben Cooper of California and Mark Roberts of Georgia. All have been successful in breeding Madagascars. I thank them for their contribution.

The Madagascar is one of the smaller lovebirds and inhabits the island of Malagasy Republic and a few surrounding islands. They are a more primitive species, as are most of the fauna of Madagascar.

Madagascars have been imported frequently but have proven extremely difficult to establish on a long-term basis. The birds are prone to air-sac mites and a dealer told me that many were lost until the problem was identified and treated. Newly imported birds are also sensitive to temperature extremes. Housing

I have maintained Madagascars in both cages and aviaries, and they have bred in both locations. However, in an aviary this bird is wild and nervous and virtually unapproachable.

Barbara Broske breeds in cages two feet square. She said she has offered larger three foot square cages but does not feel they work as well. Broske said, "It takes at least a year before they trust you."

Ben Cooper started with cages two feet square; however, changed to 14 inches square and the birds seemed steadier.

I bred them twice in planted flights 4' wide x 12' long x 7' high, as well as in 24 inch cages. I do not find these birds to be steady in an aviary. They are shy and elusive, although from a distance their courtship is fascinating to watch. The females are dominant and solicit the males for breeding. Males have been killed by aggressive females. I lost several many years ago in this way. My first hen acquired from the San Diego Zoo proved very selective in her choice of mates. There is a weird irony here. In captivity, there seems to be more females lost than males and in the nest there are usually more males born.

Breeding the

Tui Parakeet

The Tui Parakeet (Brotogeris sanctitbomae sanctitbomae) is part of the Brotogeris family. The Tui is a "cousin" to the ever popular Grey-cheeked Parakeet, as both are in the Brotogeris genus. The Tui is a small bird of seven inches in length, and built on the more slender side compared to its cousin. A nice different feature from the Greycheek is that the Tui Parakeets do not have a harsh loud voice. They have a voice like most Brotogeris, but just do not seem to use it as often. I would consider them quiet compared to the Grey-cheek.

The Tui is mainly shades of a bright green, with the breast, abdomen, under the wings and tail, lower back and tail coverts more of a yellowish green. The wing flights are bluish green, with the blue a bit brighter on the primary coverts. The most noticeable differences of the Tui Parakeets compared to other Brotogeris parakeets are the chestnut-colored beak and glowing golden colored iris. The head is the most striking feature of this little bird. Those golden eyes are really set off with the bright yellow forehead. To many people, the Tui Parakeet appears to be in color a mini version of the Yellow-crowned Amazon (Amazona ochrocephala). The Tui Parakeet inhabits areas over eastern Amazonas, Brazil, westward through southeastern Colombia and northeastern Peru to eastern Ecuador and northern Bolivia.

Over 10 years ago, I was fortunate enough to purchase a few of these beautiful birds. Once the birds were surgically sexed, I ended up with two pairs to work with, in high hopes of producing more of these beautiful birds. It took years to finally get a pair to settle in and produce successfully.

The two pairs were set up outdoors in wire cages, no added heat or cooling, for the weather here rarely drops below 40°F. Each pair was set up in an individual breeding cage. The cages measured 48" wide, 17" tall and 15" deep. For perches I prefer to use natural tree branches. The branches used are from my own orchard of over 50 various fruiting trees grown on my property. I do not use insecticide so I can assume they are safe. The wooden nest boxes used measured 11" x 10" x 7" wide, having a round 2" diameter hole; these were offered to each pair. The nest boxes were lined in a dark cork, which was adhered to the inside with a non-toxic glue. To the bottom of the nest box three inches of pine shavings were added to use as a base. Photos and more details on nest box lining is described in my book "Grey-cheeked Parakeets and Other Brotogeris," T.F.H.

All my birds that are set up in breeding cages are in a large wire enclosure. This wire building houses many pairs of birds which do not seem to be bothered by their close neighbors of different species. A few pairs of birds set up right next to the Tui Parakeets are Painted Conures, Pearly Conures, Peach-fronted Conures, Dusky Conures, Blue-crowned Conures, Senegal Parrots and Tovi Parakeets. The diet I provided for the Tui Parakeets is very similar to the diet I offer to most of my other parrots. This diet in detail can be found in either of my books, "Breeding Conures," T.F.H. or "Greycheeked Parakeets and Other Brotogeris," T.F.H. The Tui Parakeets have available to them at all times a variety of dry seeds including medium size gray sunflower seed, safflower seed and a parakeet mix containing 42% canary seed. Along with the dry seeds the birds are given a daily bowl of fresh cut up fruits, vegetables, sprouted seeds and greens. Corn on the cob and apple are their favorite foods which are always the first to be eaten.

At the end of May 1992, I found an egg buried in one of the nest boxes of Tui Parakeets. This egg was removed, the shell was slightly porous, but even though it appeared no good I still placed it in my incubator. This egg