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Discover the Fascinating World of Black-Collared Lovebirds: Behavior Diet and More!

When it comes to bird species, the Black-collared Lovebird or Agapornis swindernianus is one that is often adored by bird enthusiasts and pet owners alike. With their vibrant coloration and intriguing behaviors, these little parrots have captured the hearts of many.

In this article, we will explore everything from the identification and field identification of these birds, to their plumages and molts.


As the name suggests, the Black-collared Lovebird is marked by a black collar around its neck. They also have green upperparts and a yellow breast with orange-red under wings and rump.

The beak is notable for being a reddish-orange color. The species is generally small, weighing between 43 to 58 grams and measuring up to 14 cm.

Juvenile birds have a duller coloration and lack the black collar of the adults.

Field Identification

To identify the Black-collared Lovebird in the wild, one must pay attention to their vibrant coloration and characteristic shape. While their green upperparts and yellow breast are relatively common to many bird species, the orange-red under wings and rump are unique to this species.

This coloration is especially conspicuous when the birds are in flight. Their small size and short tails are also distinguishing features that help birders identify this species with greater ease.

Similar Species

There are several species of lovebirds that are similar in appearance to the Black-collared Lovebird, including the Peach-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis) and the Nyasa Lovebird (Agapornis lilianae). The Peach-faced Lovebird has a more prominent pink-colored face with no black collar around the neck.

Meanwhile, the Nyasa Lovebird has a more subdued coloring with a yellow face, less red on the underwings, and lacks the characteristic black collar. To tell these species apart takes careful observation and the use of field guides.


Like many bird species, the Black-collared Lovebird undergoes two molts each year. Juvenile birds and adults have different plumages.

Juvenile birds are duller in color than adults, with less vibrant green on the upperparts, a brownish-grey tinge to the yellow breast, and no black collar. It’s only after about a year that they develop the classic coloration and feature of the Black-collared Lovebird, such as the black collar around the neck.


The first molt of the Black-collared Lovebird occurs during its first year of life, typically between three to six months of age. During this time, the bird sheds its juvenile plumage in favor of a more adult-like coloration.

The second molt then occurs during the breeding season when the birds change their plumage from duller overwintering plumage to brighter, breeding plumage.


Overall, the Black-collared Lovebird is a beloved species for both bird enthusiasts and pet owners for its vibrant coloration and characteristic behavior. This article has explored the various ways of identifying the species, with particular attention to its plumages and molts.

With this knowledge, everyone can add this delightful parrot to their must-see birdwatching list.

Systematics History

The study of the Black-collared Lovebird’s systematics has been a subject of interest among ornithologists for many years. Its classification has undergone various changes due to its resemblance to other lovebird species and the discovery of new information.

Geographic Variation

The Black-collared Lovebird has a wide range and is found in a variety of habitats, such as woodland, savanna, and semi-arid zones. Its natural range includes central Tanzania, northwestern Zambia, and southeastern Angola.

However, the species has also been introduced in other locations, including other parts of Africa, as well as the United States and Europe.


There are four recognized subspecies of the Black-collared Lovebird:

Agapornis swindernianus emini: Found in southern Tanzania and central Zambia, this subspecies is smaller and has a more yellowish-green upperparts compared to the other subspecies. Agapornis swindernianus swindernianus: This is the nominate subspecies and is found in southeastern Angola, northern Namibia, and southwestern Zambia.

Agapornis swindernianus zenkeri: This subspecies occurs in central Tanzania and northern Zambia. Its upperparts are greener, and it has more extensive red tail feathers.

Agapornis swindernianus sp. nov.: Recently, there have been discoveries of a new subspecies of the Black-collared Lovebird in southwestern Angola.

Information about this subspecies is still limited, and further studies are required to establish its characteristics fully.

Related Species

Black-collared Lovebirds are part of the lovebird tribe and are closely related to other species like Fischer’s Lovebird (Agapornis Fischeri), Grey-headed Lovebird (Agapornis canus) and the Peach-faced Lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis). These species share many traits, such as their small size, short tails, bright colors, and characteristic beaks.

However, they can be differentiated based on their plumage and other physical characteristics.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Black-collared Lovebird has undergone various changes over the years. Originally, the species was only found in central Tanzania, northwestern Zambia, and southeastern Angola.

In the early 1900s, several specimens of the species were taken from the wild and brought to Europe, where they were kept as pets in aviaries. These birds then escaped or were released, leading to the introduction of the species in various countries worldwide.

In the late 1990s, there was a decline in the population numbers of the Black-collared Lovebird in the wild. This was due to the destruction of its natural habitat and trapping of the birds for the pet trade.

Several conservation efforts were put in place, such as the establishment of protected areas and breeding programs, to address the bird’s decline. In recent years, there have been reports of sightings of the Black-collared Lovebird in new locations.

For instance, the species has been reported in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. The expansion of the bird’s range is believed to be due to reintroduction efforts, escapes from captivity, or natural spreading.


In conclusion, the Black-collared Lovebird is an intriguing species with a complex systematics history. Ornithologists have made several discoveries concerning the bird’s subspecies and related species.

Additionally, its distribution has undergone several changes over the years due to a myriad of factors. Through continued research and conservation efforts, we can ensure that the Black-collared Lovebird remains a vibrant and cherished species for future generations.


The Black-collared Lovebird is a species that thrives in a variety of habitats across its range. They are commonly found in areas with acacia woodland, savanna, and thornscrub.

In the wild, these birds are often seen perching in tree holes or on the branches of shrubs and trees. They also prefer to nest in tree holes.

The use of these holes provides the birds with protection from predators and the elements. The species can also adapt to rural and urban areas, and are often kept as pets.

Movements and Migration

The Black-collared Lovebird is not known to migrate. However, there have been reports of the species moving outside their established range in search of food or water.

These movements are limited, and the birds seldom venture too far from their typical habitats. In their natural range, the birds are known to form small flocks, and pairs will form long-lasting bonds.

The species is also known to have strong site fidelity, which means that they have a strong attachment to their specific habitats and nesting sites. Black-collared Lovebirds are monogamous and will often stay with the same mate for life.

While the species is generally sedentary, they may move within their range in search of food and water during the dry season. During this time, they may gather in large numbers around sources of water, such as rivers or waterholes.

In some areas, they may also venture into cultivated lands to feed on crops such as maize. In the wild, the only known predation of Black-collared Lovebirds is by birds of prey, particularly Lanner Falcons and African Harrier-Hawks.

These predators pose a significant risk to the species, and in areas where the population of birds of prey is high, the population of the lovebirds may be negatively impacted.

In captivity, Black-collared Lovebirds are known for their characteristic behavior of running and hopping on their perch and climbing around their cages.

They thrive in captivity as pets and are popular due to their small size, vibrant colors, and playful personality. However, it is important to note that captive-bred birds should not be released into the wild, as they may not have the necessary survival skills and may introduce diseases to the wild population.


The Black-collared Lovebird is a species that is well-adapted to its environment. They make use of various habitats, forming long-lasting bonds with their mates.

While they are generally sedentary, they may move in search of food and water during the dry season. Their playful personality and adaptability make them a favorite amongst pet owners.

While captive-bred birds are popular as pets, it is important that they are not released into the wild, as this may have negative implications for the established population.

Diet and Foraging


The Black-collared Lovebird is an omnivore, with a diet that includes fruits, seeds, insects, and occasionally, small vertebrates. In the wild, they forage on the ground or in trees, using their strong beaks to open seeds and fruits.

They also use their feet to hold food and climb branches while foraging. In captivity, their diet can be supplemented with a variety of foods, including commercial bird seed mixtures, fresh fruits and vegetables, and pellets specifically designed for parrots.


The Black-collared Lovebird’s diet is mainly composed of fruits and seeds, with fruits being a significant source of water and nutrients. Trees such as the baobab, mopane, and acacia are known to produce fruits that make up a significant part of their diet.

The species also feeds on seeds and grains such as maize, millet, and sorghum. Insects and other invertebrates are an important source of protein, particularly during the breeding season when the birds require high levels of energy.

During the dry season, when food is scarce, the birds may feed on dried-out fruits and seeds, or even venture into cultivated lands to forage on crops such as maize, millet, and sorghum. They may also gather in large flocks around waterholes to feed on aquatic plants and algae.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Black-collared Lovebird has a high metabolism and temperature regulation, which allows it to maintain its body temperature in hot environments. The species is adapted to its arid habitat and can withstand high temperatures and prolonged periods without water.

This adaptation is achieved through various physiological and behavioral mechanisms, including panting, seeking out shaded areas, and reducing its activity level during the hottest parts of the day.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Black-collared Lovebirds are known for their vocalizations, which are varied and species-specific. They have a repertoire of sounds, including screeches, trills, and warbles.

They use these vocalizations to communicate with their mates, young birds, and other members of their flock. The birds are also known to make vocalizations while in flight or when perched high up in trees.

Male birds may use vocalizations to attract a mate during the breeding season, with their calls often being more elaborate and louder than those made outside of this period. Anecdotal evidence suggests that captive birds may also mimic human speech, although this is not well-documented in scientific literature.

In addition to vocalizations, Black-collared Lovebirds also communicate through various bodily gestures. They may use their wings and beaks to display aggressive behavior towards other birds or to reassure their young.


In conclusion, the Black-collared Lovebird is a species with a varied diet, foraging behavior, and unique vocalizations. They feed on a variety of seeds, fruits, and insects, which they forage by climbing trees and walking on the ground.

Additionally, they have evolved various adaptations to withstand the heat and aridity of their natural habitat. The species is known for its varied vocalizations, which are used for communication between individuals, attracting mates, and signaling aggression.

Understanding these behaviors is essential for bird enthusiasts and pet owners alike, as it enables them to care effectively for the birds and appreciate their unique characteristics.



The Black-collared Lovebird is an agile and active bird with a fast and erratic flight pattern. They have strong and nimble legs that enable them to climb trees and clasp onto branches.

The species is known to have a playful personality, often observed running and hopping on their perches, playing with toys, and exhibiting acrobatic feats. In the wild, their foraging activities involve walking on the ground and up and down the branches of trees, using their beaks and feet to hold and manipulate their food.


Black-collared Lovebirds are fastidious with their personal grooming, using their beaks and tongues to preen and maintain their feathers clean and healthy. They also regularly bathe, both in water and in the dust, which helps to remove dirt and excess oil from their feathers.

In captivity, pet owners can help by providing regular opportunities for their lovebirds to bathe, such as by providing a shallow dish of water or a misting spray.

Agonistic Behavior

Black-collared Lovebirds exhibit agonistic behavior when defending their nests or when competing for resources such as food or mates. During agonistic encounters, the birds use a combination of vocalizations, beak clashing, and wing-fluttering to warn off their opponents.

The intensity of these encounters can range from mild posturing to full-blown physical fights, with males often being more aggressive during the breeding season.

Sexual Behavior

The breeding season for Black-collared Lovebirds generally takes place during the wet season when food is plentiful. The species is monogamous, with pairs forming strong bonds and breeding together for several years.

During courtship, males will chase and feed the females, and the pair will engage in preening and allopreening activities. Once paired, they will begin the process of constructing a nest, which is located in a tree hole or other crevices.


Black-collared Lovebirds typically breed in the wet season when food is abundant. The pair will work together to excavate a nest hole using their strong beaks, usually in a tree or a dead stump.

The female will then lay one to four eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 24 to 26 days. Once hatched, the chicks are fed by their parents, who primarily feed them by regurgitating partially digested food into their beaks.

The young birds fledge between 35 to 45 days, after which they are still dependent on their parents for food and protection.

Demography and Populations

The Black-collared Lovebird is classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, populations of this species have declined significantly due to habitat destruction, human disturbance, and trapping for the pet trade.

Efforts to conserve the species have been implemented, including the establishment of protected areas and successful breeding programs. In the wild, the lifespan of Black-collared Lovebirds is estimated to be around 10 to 15 years on average.

In captivity, they can live up to 20 years or more, provided they receive proper care and nutrition. The species is frequently kept as a pet, and due to its small size and playful personality, it is a popular choice for bird enthusiasts.


The Black-collared Lovebird is a beloved bird species, known for its playful personality, unique behaviors, and striking appearance. Understanding their behavior, breeding habits, and the factors that affect their populations is essential to ensure their continued survival.

By providing them with appropriate care and conservation, we can help to safeguard their future and preserve this charming species for generations to come. In conclusion, the Black-collared Lovebird is a fascinating species with a rich history, diverse behavior, and myriad of adaptations to different habitats.

Understanding its systematics history, diet and foraging habits, vocalizations, mating behavior, and population dynamics is essential for bird enthusiasts, pet owners, and conservationists alike. Although the species has faced challenges, including habitat destruction, human disturbance, and trapping for the pet trade, steps have been taken to conserve the bird and protect its natural habitats.

Through education, research, and conservation efforts, we can ensure that the Black-collared Lovebird continues to thrive, bringing joy and fascination to people around the world.

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