Agapornis pullarius - Red-headed Lovebird

Photo: Copyright © by Diego Recanati – Instagram profile: @flayagain

Red-headed Lovebird – Agapornis pullarius (Linnaeus, 1758) – is native to a wide range covering several states in Central and Western Africa. They are not very common in captivity.

The pairs tie a strong band – they sleep together and can spend a very long time preening each other’s feathers.

Outside of the breeding season, they can be seen in large fast-flying flocks of up to 30 birds flying far to find food before returning to their roosting place in the evening.

They are listed on CITES Appendix II and EU Annex B.


Small parrot with a short tail. The plumage is overall light green. The beak is coral red. The eyes are dark brown.

The male has orange-red forehead and cheeks, cobalt-blue on the lower back and rump. Underwing coverts are black. The tail is green with yellow-green coverts, lateral tail feathers are red at the base and yellow tips banded with black. 

The female has orange forehead and cheeks. The beak is paler than the male.

Size: approx. 15 cm
Weight: approx. 43 grams


Two subspecies are recognized:

  • Agapornis pullarius pullarius (Linnaeus, 1758) – nominate form, colors as described above.
  • Agapornis pullarius ugandae (Neumann, 1908) – is similar to the nominate species but has a paler blue color along the lower back and rump



  • Agapornis pullarius pullarius – from Guinea and Sierra Leone to Sudan, DR Congo and Angola.
  • Agapornis pullarius ugandae – from western Ethiopia to eastern DR Congo and north-western Tanzania.


Wild birds feed on grass seeds, fruit, some cultivated crops and insect larvae.

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.


Where most parrots build up in a hollow tree, the Red-headed Lovebird prefer to dig a nest in a thermite nest. The female digs a tunnel in the thermite nest – the tunnel may be up to 30 cm deep. She then bring nesting material by carrying grass and leaves between her feathers.

The Red-headed Lovebird is difficult to breed in captivity as it prefer to burrow to make its nest and also the nest must be kept at about 27 °C (81 °F). Some breeders have experimented with using cork which the female can burrow into.

She usually lays about five eggs.. The eggs are hatched after approximately 24 days. The juveniles  leave the nest seven weeks after hatching.



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


  • Danish: Orangehovedet Dværgpapegøje
  • English: Red-headed Lovebird, Red-faced Lovebird
  • French: Inséparable à face rouge, Inséparable à tête rouge, Inséparable pullaria
  • German: Orangeköpfchen, Unzertrennlicher
  • Portuguese: Inseparavel de cabeca vermelha, Inseparavel-de-cabeca-vermelha
  • Spanish: Inseparable Carirrojo, Inseparable de Cabeza Roja
  • Scientific: Agapornis pullarius

IUCN Red List

BirdLife International 2016. Agapornis pullarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22685330A93068275.
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