Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis)

Black-cheeked Lovebird

[order] PSITTACIFORMES | [family] Psittacidae | [latin] Agapornis nigrigenis | [authority] Sclater, 1906 | [UK] Black-cheeked Lovebird | [FR] Inseparable a joues noires | [DE] Russkopfchen | [ES] Inseparable Cacheton | [NL] Zwartwangagapornis | [copyright picture] Birdlife


Monotypic species


Agapornis, an African genus of parrots allied to Loriculus of Asia, has usually been classified in nine species. Five species in the African lovebird genus Agapornis are the only parrots, other than Monk Parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus), that construct nests. Four species (A. personata, A. fischeri, A. lilianae, and A. nigrigenis) build domed nests within cavities, and a fifth (A. roseicollis) builds a cup-shaped nest within a cavity. The other members of the genus have nesting behavior that is more typical of other parrots: A. cana and A. taranta nest in cavities that are lined with nesting material, and A. pullaria excavates burrows in arboreal ant or termite nests. Eight species are native to the African continent, while the Grey-headed Lovebird is native to Madagascar. Their name stems from the parrots’ strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods which paired birds spend sitting together. Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat fruit, vegetables, grasses and seed. Black-winged Lovebirds also eat insects and figs, and the Black-collared Lovebirds have a special dietary requirement for native figs.

Physical charateristics

Fast-flying parrot. All-green, apart from dark brown head, orange bib below throat, and white eye-ring. Bright red bill. Juvenile similar but with more orange bill.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 38 days fledging max.: 43 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 8  


Africa : South Zambia. It occupies 2,500 km2 within a core extent of occurrence of 4,550 km2 Zambezi River to the south and Kafue River to the north in south-west Zambia. May occur in small
patches elsewhere such as in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. It has also been recorded from Botswana, and as possibly breeding in Zimbabwe.


It inhabits deciduous woodland, dominated by mopane Colophospermum, where permanent supplies of surface water exist. It needs daily access to water, in the dry season congregating in large flocks of up to 800 or more.


It breeds in holes in mature mopane trees near roosting sites, during January-April. Black-cheeked lovebirds can take up to 4 weeks to build their dome-shaped nest. They lay 4 to 6 eggs. The female incubates the eggs only leaving to feed. The male will bring food to the female. Eggs are incubated for 24 days and the chicks will fledge after about 41 days.

Feeding habits

Food largely consists of crop seeds (sorghum, millett, maize etc) and wild tree fruits and seeds.

Video Black-cheeked Lovebird


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


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.
Three factors are thought to have caused its decline this century: the partial replacement of sorghum and millet crops, an attractive food source, with maize between c.1930 and 1950, heavy exploitation for the cage-bird trade in the 1920s, and gradual dessication of its habitat. There is no evidence to suggest that a wild-caught trade currently exists, although it is clear that any international demand would be met eagerly. Some birds are caught for subsistence consumption. More 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.
Black-cheeked Lovebird status Vulnerable


Sedentary with some local movements

Distribution map

Black-cheeked Lovebird distribution range map

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