Agapornis roseicollis and Swinderns lovebirds are considered intermediate forms between the sexual dimorphic group and the white eye-ringed group. Agapornis roseicollis show no sexual dimorphism.
Agapornis roseicollis roseicollis was already discovered in 1793. It was considered a Red-faced subspecies at first but recognised as an independent race in 1817. Now a Peach-faced sub-species is known: A. r. catumbella. It lives in Angola and was described in the 1950’s. I also have some doubts with that subspecies.
The Peach-faced lovebird is 15 centimetres long. It’s main colour is green. The face – as the name implies – is peach coloured, though slightly darker on the crown and paler under the bill. The rump is blue. The bill is horn coloured, the feet are grey and the claws are dark grey to black.
An inhabitant of the south-western part of Africa it lives in flights of twenty to thirty birds. They often breed in the nests of weaver birds. They chase off the rightful occupants and invade the nest. Having done so the hen does not carry nesting material into the cavity. When nesting in trees or under a roof the hen will stick small pieces of leaves or bark under her rump feathers and transport them to the nest this way. She turns these pieces into a pad-like nest.
In aviculture peach-faced breed freely which has made them into the most widely kept and almost domesticated lovebird. Shortly after hatching young wild coloured Peach-faced show orange down. This soon is replaced by a second layer of whitish down and only thereafter the first (pin) feathers appear.
They fledge after six to seven weeks and resemble their parents. All colours are paler however and they show a dark spot on the bill. After the juvenile moult they can no longer be distinguished from their elders.
As in all domesticated or near domesticated animals a large number of colour mutations has appeared. For all lovebirds BVA uses colour names based on feather structure and on the variations of the pigments present in those feathers. The wild form is taken as the point of departure and is called a green (Not only in Peach-faced, but in all species of lovebirds and other parrot-like birds).
Lately on the European exhibition benches the “new” Peach-faced made its appearance. It’s face is bright red and the bill almost colourless. In size they approach seventeen centimetres. Special sized rings have to be used . The classical dimension of 4.5 millimetres (inside diameter) is too small and one has to use a 5 millimetre ring instead. Incidentally: continental breeders close-ring all their birds ranging from macaws to humming birds. If you want to show it at an exhibition as an Owner Bred bird this is compulsory.
When the “new” Peach-faced was shown for the first time the usual discussions and rumours started to spread. To cite but a few: The birds were so big because they were fed some secret potion. Not true. They were given hormones. Again not true, They were crossed with the sub-species catumbella.
The truth is really simple; these Peach-faced were a result of the myostatine gene.
© Dirk Van den Abeele