This magnificent bird lives in equatorial and western equatorial Africa. They frequent the scarcely wooded savannah’s in groups of twenty to thirty birds. They mainly feed on the abundant grass seeds. On these savannah’s one also finds their breeding places. The Red-faced (Agapornis pullarius), unlike the other lovebirds, breed in termite mounds. It selects the nest of an arboreal ant as a nesting site, much less frequently a termite hill on the ground is used. The hens excavate a tunnel with a small nesting chamber at the end. Eggs are laid every other day. Strangely enough the termites leave the birds in peace. This is probably due to the fact that the Red-faced only uses an uninhabited part of the ant-hill. Some sources state that A. pullarius also consume ant eggs. This does not seem very likely seeing the usually extremely aggressive nature of termites. The inside temperature of an ant-hill remains practically constant. The hen therefore can leave the nest for extended periods during incubation. The young hatch after twenty-three days. They have no natal down. The first down only appears after a few days. It is not know for sure how many rounds are laid. This normally depends on the circumstances. In the wild we observe birds breeding when everything is favourable: sufficient food, good nesting facilities, ideal temperatures, sufficient daylight. We think that only rarely more than two rounds will be raised.
Next to the nominate race the sub-species A. p. ugandae exists. As the name suggests it is mainly found in Uganda. It’s rump is a paler blue compared to the main race.Personally I have some doubts with this subspecies.
The Red-faced measures about 15 centimetres. In a full-grown cock the face and the crown are deep orange-red. It’s main body colour is bright green, more yellowish green in front and beneath. There is a small ring of minute bluish-white feathers around the eye. The bends of the wings and the under wing covert are black. The rump is blue. The green tail shows a red and black sub-terminal band, the tip is green again. The bill is red, the feet are grey and the claws are black. Hens have a much paler orange on the head. They also lack the black under wing covert, which are green.
© Dirk Van den Abeele