Agapornis canus - Grey-headed Lovebird

Photo: Copyright © by Eugène Rakotomahenina – Instagram profile: @e_rakotomahenina

The Grey-headed Lovebird/Gray-headed Lovebird or Madagascar Lovebird – Agapornis canus (Gmelin, JF, 1788) – is the only Lovebird specie that does not live in Africa itself but on Madagascar.

They are not very common in captivity and are sensitive to cold weather. They are shy and nervous by nature and therefore not as suitable as domestic birds. They may be aggressive to art mates. They are more difficult to breed than other Lovebirds. With proper care they can reach a lifespan of 10-20 years.

They have relatively large wings and are good and fast flyers.

It is listed on CITES Appendix II and EU Annex B.


The body color is green with darkgreen back and wings. The chest is a lighter green and lightgreen rump. The beak and feets are lightgrey.

The species is sexually dimorphic: The male has a light grey head and upper part of the chest – the female has a green head and chest.

Size:  13 – 15 cm
Weight: 25 – 31,5 gram


Two subspecies are recognized:

  • Agapornis canus canus (Gmelin, JF, 1788) 
  • Agapornis canus ablectaneus (Bangs, 1918) 


The Grey-headed Lovebird is native to Madagascar. The two subspecies live in different regions on Madagascar:

  • Agapornis canus canus : Southern Madagascar
  • Agapornis canus ablectaneus : Madagascar except southern part

The Grey-headed Lovebird  have been introduced to several of the other islands off the east coast of Africa: Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritus and Zanzibar.


Wild birds mainly feed on grass seeds.

The diet should be based on a good quality pellet; also provide a mix of small seeds like millet, canary, oats and hemp. Fruits and green leaves.


They are not common as domestic birds and are more difficult to breed than other Lovebird species. They prefer to mate during autumn.

They are very shy and nervous and easily frightened in the aviary.

They have low tolerance to cold weather.

A vertical box about 15 x 15 x 15 cm (6″ x 6″ x 6″) is used as nest box.

The clutch contains 5-7 eggs. Incubation time is about 22-23 days; the chicks reach fledging age after 6 weeks.



  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittaculidae
  • Genus: Agapornis


  • Danish: Gråhovedet Dværgpapegøje
  • English: Grey-headed Lovebird, Gray-headed Lovebird, Madagascar Lovebird
  • French: Inséparable à tête grise, Inséparable cana
  • German: Grauköpchen, Grauköpfchen
  • Portuguese: Inseparável-de-faces-cinzentas
  • Spanish: Inseparable de Cabeza Gris, Inseparable Malgache
  • Scientific: Agapornis canus

IUCN Red List

BirdLife International 2018. Agapornis canus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22685326A131875130.
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