The Peach--faced Lovebird Agapornis roseicollis and its Mutations


The Peach-faced Lovebird, from Angola and Southwest Africa is, along with the Budgerigar and the Cockatiel, the most common psittacine species in aviculture. In the wild there are two distinct races, one having brighter coloration and found in an isolated limited range. Ironically, the Peach-faced was not one of the first species imported, however with its willingness to go forth and propagate, its popularity caught on quickly. It has produced a myriad of mutations and combinations, and done so in a relatively short period of time.

My very first bird was a male Peachfaced, and he lived for 16 years and sired many off spring. At 14 (my age when I got him) they did not often hand- feed baby lovebirds for pets. However, at the Palos Verdes Bird Farm, where I acquired him, there was a tame baby on a playpen and I knew that's what I wanted. (Actually, I originally wanted a Mynah Bird, but when my mother saw the bottom of a Mynah's cage, she said, "no way!") Unfortunately the baby on the playpen was sold, but the employee at the bird farm assured me they were easy to tame if acquired young, and this proved correct. So home I went with a baby bird fresh out of the aviary, with some black still on his beak and his wings clipped. I was so excited that I immediately took him to the bathtub with a wooden dowel and within 15 minutes he was sitting calmly on my finger. Thus began a love affair that has cost me thousands of dollars to this day. While I have kept and bred many species of birds, the Agapornids remain one of my favorites, and I have never been without them in the collection. "Tiki," as I named him remained quite friendly for his entire life, even when breeding (a trait I attribute more to the males than females). He and his first mate actually had their first brood while I was in Africa, and I had them boarded with a friend. I was disappointed not to have been there to witness this, however the couple rewarded me with many more clutches of babies over the years.

While the Peach-faced Lovebird has produced many color mutations, some say even more than the Budgrigar, the normal Green is still a beautiful bird. In this article I have decided to concentrate on the mutations and various combinations that have evolved. However, first let me explain the difference between a mutation and a combination. Two of the first mutations produced were the Blue and the American Yellow (Cherryhead). A combination of these two can eventually produce an American White (Silver). A combination is thus defined as a pairing of two or more "pure" mutations. In the early days when the new mutations were being established, the genetics were fairly easy to comprehend. However, as more and more combinations were tried, the genetic backgrounds of many birds became so diverse it was virtually impossible to predict what some pairings would produce. In my opinion this is unfortunate and it is primarily due to the fact that normal Greens were not used as a control when breeding. There is a warning "flag" to this as well. Some of the original mutations such as the American Yellow (or Golden Cherryhead as it was first called) are not common now as newer varieties have been developed.

Second, the size of the bird is starting to decline, something that would not happen if the birds were periodically outcrossed to Normal Greens. For example, a pairing over successive generations of Lutino to Lutino will definitely result in smaller and probably weaker birds. So, as I have stated in other articles, I feel it is imperative to maintain a con- trol flock of Normal Greens when working with the mutations and combinations. One of the most commonly asked questions I receive is, "If I mate a Blue bird with a Yellow bird what will I get?" I used to be able to answer that question, however, without knowing the

background of the Blue bird or the Yellow bird, your guess is as good as mine!

So, now let us begin to look at the evolution of the mutations and combinations in the Peach-faced Lovebird. In order to understand this, one must know that there are three methods or patterns of inheritance. They are recessive, sex-linked and dominant factor. In the simple recessive, a Green Normal mated with a Blue will produce babies that are all of a Normal Green coloration, however are split or are capable when paired with either another split or a Blue bird of producing a Blue offspring.

Let me try to simplify the RECESSIVE

in the charts below.

Normal Green mated to or "x" Blue= Normal Green split to Blue babies. We chart this:

Table One

Normal Green x Blue = Normal Green/Blue

Note the first color is the visible color and the "/" mark indicates SPLIT, followed by the color for which the bird is split.