This beautiful lovebird was first described in 1864. They then were thought to be a Peach-faced sub-species. In 1894 only they were classified by Shelley as a distinct species. He named them Agapornis lilianae in favour of Miss Lilian Sclater, the sister of W.L. Sclater, a famous ornithologist.
Imported into Europe in 1926 breeding successes followed almost immediately.
They originate from southern Tanzania, northern Zimbabwe and the eastern part of Zambia. Sometimes colonies of over a hundred birds are found, always close to water. It can be very hot in their territory. Apart from that they love to bathe. Locally distributed in their native countries they are found in large numbers in one valley and not at all in the next.
The Nyasa measures 12 to 13 centimetres. It’s body is green, the head a bright red-orange head. The back of the head is yellowish-green. The tail is green with an orange-black band near the green tip. The bill is bright red at the tip changing into pinkish-white at the base. Cere and eye ring of bare white skin. Feet grey, claws black.
Some geniuses have found a way to improve this lovebird. By hybridising with Fischer’s they claim to make them more resistant to stress and disease. But a strong hybrid still remains a hybrid. The existing stock of pure Nyasa lovebirds is very small. No breeding experiments should be tried with this species.
Signs of impurity are almost similar to those of impure Black-cheeked:
1. The typical elegant type is quite different from the Masked and Fischer’s lovebird.
2. The bill is much smaller and more curved then in Masked and Fischer’s.
3. The bill is coral red at the tip and fades into a pinkish-white at it’s base. Hybrids have all red bills
4. The rump must have the same colour as the back. Any blue or violet feather means it has been hybridised with Masked or Fischer’s along the line. A dark green rump indicates Black-cheeked ancestry.
5. Nyasas are significantly smaller in body size than Masked or Fischer’s.
6. Adult birds showing black in the face are suspect. Newly fledged pure bred Nyasas sometimes show some dark suffusion on the lores but that disappears after moulting.
© Dirk Van den Abeele