Overview

Brief Summary

The Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) is found in southern Zambia and, formerly, extreme northern Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls. The Black-cheeked Lovebird is sometimes treated as conspecific with the Nyasa Lovebird (A. lilianae, from which it is separated by 100 to 150  km of unsuitable habitat) and occasionally even with the Fischer's and Yellow-collared Lovebirds (A. fischeri and A. personatus).This species is found in specific types of medium-altitude deciduous woodlands, usually close to a reliable water source for daily drinking. Due in part to its extremely restricted range (perhaps only 6000 square km), this species is considered to be endangered.

(Collar 1997 and references therein; Juniper and Parr 1998 and references therein)

  • Collar, N.J. 1997. Genus Agapornis. P. 409-411 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4. Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  • Juniper, T. and M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
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Biology

The need to drink water at least twice a day is a critical determinant of the daily and seasonal activities of the black-cheeked lovebird (6). In the non-breeding season, this species congregates in large flocks of up to 800 birds, reaching maximum numbers in the early mornings and late afternoons, when the birds drink and feed. It feeds mainly on the seeds of annual grasses and herbs, including crops such as millet and sorghum, but will also forage for a wide range of other items such as leaves, nectar, fruit pulp, invertebrates, bark, lichen and soil. Natural cavities in live mopane trees are utilised for roosting and breeding. The breeding season extends from mid January to early May, and corresponds with annual maximum rainfall and the beginning of the dry season. Each pair probably uses the same nest site year after year, and produces a single clutch of six to seven eggs (2) (6).
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Description

The lovebirds comprise nine species of small but solidly built parrots, renowned for their strong pair bonds (4). The black-cheeked lovebird is bright green except for a dark brown head, olive nape, bold white eye-ring, red bill and an orange patch on the chest. The juvenile is similar in appearance to the adult bird, but its bill is grey or orange. In common with the screeching chatter of other lovebirds, this species has a loud, shrill call (2) (5).
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Distribution

Range Description

Agapornis nigrigenis occurs patchily in south-west Zambia between the Kafue river to the north and the Zambezi river to the south (Warburton 1999b), with an Extent of Occurrence of c.14,400 km2, within which the core breeding areas cover c.2,500 km2 (Dodman 1995b, Dodman et al. 2000). The species is found in an area of 4,550 km2 of mopane woodland, 3,200 km2 of which occurs in the Zambezi catchment (Dodman 1995c). It used to occur more widely, although some isolated historical records may reflect feral populations, as may unconfirmed records from the eastern Caprivi region of Namibia(Dodman 1995b, Dodman 1997). However, these might refer to birds from wild populations (Dodman 1995c). There have also been unconfirmed records from Botswana and Zimbabwe. The core population can be split into two subpopulations during the dry season, those in the Zambezi catchment (c.6,200 birds in 1994) and the Kafue catchment (c.3,800 birds in 1994) (Dodman 1995c). In 1994, the overall population density in presumed breeding habitat was c.2.2 birds/km2 (this does not reflect their clumped distribution [L. S. Warburton in litt. 1999, 2000]) and the total population was estimated to be 10,000 individuals (Dodman 1995c, Dodman et al. 2000). Evidence from farmers and bird-trappers suggests that this is a considerably lower total than in the early 20th century (Moreau 1948, Dodman et al. 2000).

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Range

S Zambia and extreme n Zimbabwe.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Range

The black-cheeked lovebird occurs patchily in south-west Zambia, with two sub-populations distinguishable during the dry season in the catchments of the Zambezi and Kafue rivers (2) (6). Unconfirmed records of this species also exist from Botswana, Zimbabwe and Caprivi region of Namibia (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits deciduous woodland, dominated by mopane Colophospermum, not Baikiaea (Benson and Irwin 1967) as formerly reported(Moreau 1948), where permanent supplies of surface water exist (Dodman 1995c, Dodman et al. 2000). It commutes to adjoining habitats, such as riverine vegetation and agricultural areas, to forage and drink (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). It requires daily access to water, and needs to drink twice each day (Dodman 1995c, Warburton 1999a, b, Dodman et al. 2000, Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005d). In the dry season it congregates in large flocks of up to 800 or more in some areas (Warburton 1999b). It relies on water sources that are not regularly disturbed by humans and livestock (Warburton and Perrin 2005d, T. Dodman in litt. 2007). It breeds in holes in mature mopane trees near roosting sites(Dodman 1995b, Warburton and Perrin 2005a), during January-May(L. S. Warburton in litt. 1999, 2000, Warburton 2003). Fidelity to nest-sites is suspected(Warburton 2003). The breeding season coincides with the annual maximum rainfall and the beginning of the dry season, and pairs usually raise a single clutch (Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005c). Broods of six and seven nestlings have been observed (Warburton and Perrin 2005c). The species roosts in naturally formed cavities in live mopane trees (Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005a). Food largely consists of annual grass seeds, other seeds of annual herbs and ripening crop seeds (millet and sorghum) (Dodman 1995c, Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005b). They have also been observed to consume invertebrates, leaves, flowers, nectar, bark, lichen, resin and soil (Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005b). The crop-ripening season coincides with the species's breeding season (Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005d) and its appetite for crop seeds has earned it a reputation locally as a pest(Dodman 1995c). In south-west Zambia, it has been recorded that 18% of millet seed heads suffered more than 20% damage from the species during the ripening season (Warburton 2003). Flocks were observed feeding in sorghum and millet fields in early 2012, mainly east of the Machile River (N. Buys in litt. 2012).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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This lovebird occurs in deciduous, mopane (Colophospermum mopane) woodlands, where there are permanent supplies of water (2).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
C2a(ii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Aspinwall, D., Dodman, T., Irwin, M., Leonard, P., Rockingham-Gill, D., Warburton, L. & Buys, N.

Justification
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population which is undergoing a continuing decline, principally owing to the gradual dessication of water bodies within a highly localised range.


History
  • 2012
    Vulnerable
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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
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Population

Population
The population, based on surveys in 1994, has been estimated at c.10,000 individuals, however due to suspected declines in the population since this year, the population is placed in the range bracket 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Three factors are thought to have caused its decline the past century: heavy exploitation for the cage-bird trade from the 1920s to the 1960s (Moreau 1948, Dodman 1995c), gradual desiccation of its habitat (Moreau 1948, Dodman 1995c), which is thought to be (currently) the main threat given the highly localised range of the species (Warburton 2003), and the partial replacement of sorghum and millet crops, (an attractive food source [Dodman 1995b, L. S. Warburton in litt. 1999, 2000]), with maize, between c.1930 and 1950 (Dodman 1995c, Dodman et al. 2000). There is evidence that the wild-caught trade in this species is currently at a very low level, with only isolated incidences of trade and export (Dodman 1995c, Warburton and Perrin 2005c), although it is clear that any international demand would be met eagerly(Warburton and Perrin 2005a, d). Some birds are caught for subsistence consumption and it is also persecuted as a pest, however these birds would usually be eaten as well (Dodman 1995c, Warburton and Perrin 2005c). Farmers take measures to mitigate damage to crops, but they are largely ineffective and rarely lethal (Dodman 1995c, Warburton 2003). The current levels of hunting and capture are unlikely to have any serious long-term impact on the population, but could threaten local populations suffering from the effects of desiccation (Dodman 1995c). Recently there may have been local declines due to loss of surface water supplies in the dry season, perhaps due to long-term climate change(Dodman 1995b, c, Warburton 1999b, Dodman et al. 2000). The number of permanent water sources in mopane woodland has decreased since the early 20th century(Dodman 1995c). The low availability of water in the dry season is probably the principal factor in the disappearance of permanent populations from the Bovu and Sinde Rivers, and changes to the Ngweze River population (Dodman 1995c). This is exacerbated by a decrease in the annual rainfall in the species's habitat of, on average, about 5 mm per year between 1950 and 1995, increasing the species's reliance on artificial water sources (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). The recent establishment of hand-pumped boreholes along the catchments of the Ngweze, Sichifulo, and Machile rivers may lead to a decrease in the availability of surface water as people reduce their water source creation activities in riverbeds (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). In some areas, water pools are poisoned to kill fish and this can impact the species (Dodman 1995c). The species may be threatened by the declining dry-season availability of water in temporary rivers in south-western Zambia, due to declining levels of rainfall (T. Dodman in litt. 2007). Mopane woodland is exploited for firewood and timber, though the habitat is regenerating and encroaching into other habitats in some areas (Dodman 1995c). Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease Virus is present in the wild population (Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005c), but there is no evidence that this is a serious threat.

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Between the 1920s and the 1960s, the black-cheeked lovebird was heavily exploited for the cage-bird trade (2). Fortunately, current trade in live specimens is at a very low-level. However, since the mid-20th century, gradual desiccation within the black cheeked lovebird's range, attributable to a decline in annual rainfall of around five millimetres a year, has significantly narrowed the amount of suitable habitat available to this species. This is further exacerbated by the recent establishment of numerous hand-pumped bore-holes, which under heavy usage reduce the amount of groundwater supplying natural water sources. Consequently, the black-cheeked lovebird, which avoids water actively disturbed by humans or livestock, is increasingly more dependant on artificial sources, such as watering points for cattle (2) (6). This lovebird is also considered by farmers to be a serious agricultural pest, accounting for significant damage to millet and sorghum crops in southern Zambia (2) (6) (7). However, efforts by local farmers to protect their crops are largely ineffective and rarely harmful to the birds (2) (6).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Trapping of birds for trade is now banned (T. Dodman in litt. 2000) although a number of captive populations still exist and flourish. In Zambia, a trade ban on wild-caught birds was implemented in 1930 (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). Approximately 35% of its habitat lies within Kafue National Park and surrounding Game Management Areas (P. Leonard in litt. 1999, T. Dodman in litt. 2000), whilst most of its core range is included within the Machile and Kafue National Park IBAs (Leonard 2005). Detailed research programmes on this species were underway in the 1990s (Dodman 1995b, Warburton 1999a, b, Dodman et al. 2000, T. Dodman in litt. 2000) from which reports have been published. An education project focusing on the species was conducted in south-west Zambia in September 2001, involving local schools, villagers and Zambia Wildlife Authority scouts (Warburton 2003).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct regular (e.g. monthly) counts at selected sites (such as water sources in the dry season) to monitor its population, concentrating on the core distribution(Dodman 1995c, Dodman et al. 2000, Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005d). Conduct annual monitoring in areas such as the mid-Machile and Sichifulo rivers and the Mabiya pools region of south Kafue National Park and monitor the availability of surface water in the dry season (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). Investigate its status in the eastern Caprivi (Dodman (1995c, Dodman et al. 2000). Encourage its return to former range areas, initially through piloting the provision of undisturbed water sources and strips of sorghum and millet(Warburton 1999b). Continue a programme of environmental education involving school-visits and meetings with farming communities (Dodman 1995c, Dodman et al. 2000, Warburton 2003) to reduce trapping and disturbance at water sources (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). Provide training in ornithology and conservation for potential local bird guides and hold meetings with villagers on the protection of resources such as trees and water (Dodman 1995c). Maintain and create water resources with minimal disturbance (Warburton 2003). Continue to enforce the trade ban on wild-caught birds of this species (Warburton 2003, Warburton and Perrin 2005d) and further develop captive breeding programmes. Investigate the effect of burning on the availability of grass seeds (Warburton and Perrin 2005b). Manage water sources to encourage use by the species, and assess the impact of pumped boreholes on surface water supplies (Warburton and Perrin 2005d). Identify a selection of reasonably accessible sites where visitors can go to see the species, and ensure options for revenue generation through ecotourism, in collaboration with BirdWatch Zambia (T. Dodman in litt. 2012).

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Conservation

While evidence suggests that the demand for wild caught black-cheeked lovebirds is very low, it remains important that a ban, instituted in the 1930s, in the trade of wild caught birds continues to be enforced. The current primary objective of black-cheeked lovebird conservation is to reduce disturbance at existing water sources and to create additional permanent drinking sites. It is hoped that this will encourage the species to return to areas within its former range. A further priority of conservationists is to continue interacting with farming communities, particularly in schools, to promote lovebird conservation amongst local people. In the long-term, it is also imperative that the black-cheeked lovebird population is monitored on a regular basis to inform future conservation measures (2) (6).
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Wikipedia

Black-cheeked lovebird

The black-cheeked lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) is a small parrot species of the lovebird genus. It is mainly green and has a brown head, red beak, and white eyerings.[2] It is endemic in a relatively small range in southwest Zambia, where it is vulnerable to habitat loss.[1][3]

Description[edit]

Upper body

The black-cheeked lovebird is 14 cm (5.5 in) in length,[2] with mostly green plumage, reddish-brown forehead and forecrown, brownish-black cheeks and throat, orange bib below the throat which fades to yellowish-green, white eye-rings and grey feet. Adult have bright red beaks, while juveniles of the species are similar but with a more orange bill. Vocalizations are loud, piercing shrieks, which are very similar to those of other lovebirds.

Taxonomy[edit]

The black-cheeked lovebird is monotypic.[2] The black-cheeked lovebird is sometimes seen as a race of Lilian's lovebird.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The black-cheeked lovebird inhabits deciduous woodland, where permanent supplies of surface water exist, as it needs daily access to water. In the dry season, these birds may congregate in large flocks of up to 800 or more.

It is listed as a vulnerable species since it has a small population which is in decline due to continuous habitat loss, particularly due to gradual desiccation of water bodies.[1]

Diet[edit]

The black-cheeked lovebird feeds mainly at ground-level on annual grass seeds, but also on other vegetable matter and insect larvae, and on corn, sorghum, and millet.[4]

Aviculture[edit]

The black-cheeked lovebird is relatively easy to breed in aviculture, but there was little interest in breeding them during the first half of the twentieth century at a time when imports were numerous. Now they are uncommon in aviculture and uncommon as pets.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2013). "Agapornis nigrigenis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Le Breton, Kenny. Lovebirds...getting started. USA: T.F.H. Publications. pp. 97–98. ISBN 0-86622-411-4. 
  3. ^ a b Birds of Africa south of the Sahara, Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan (2003) Struik ISBN 1-86872-857-9
  4. ^ "Species factsheet: Agapornis nigrigenis". BirdLife International (2008). Retrieved 9 July 2008. 
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