Looking for a small parrot with lots of personality to add to your family? If you settled on the colorful Fischer’s lovebird (Agapornis fischeri), that’s not surprising. These African birds are among the most popular pet parrots out there! But… what will yours need to thrive?
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about Agapornis fischeri lovebirds and their care.
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|Name(s) (common, scientific)||Fischer’s lovebird, Agapornis fischeri|
|Natural habitat||East African savannahs|
|Adult size||Up to 15 cm/5.9″ and 60 grams|
|Lifespan||Up to 15-20 years|
Agapornis fischeri appearance
The Fischer’s lovebird is not a large parrot at all, even among lovebirds, reaching only around 15 cm or just under 6″ in length with a stubby tail. Its maximum weight is around 60 grams.
This species forms part of the so-called “eye-ring” group of lovebirds. These can be recognized from the white ring of bare skin around their eyes. One popular eye-ring lovebird that you could mistake for Agapornis fischeri is the yellow-collared lovebird, Agapornis personatus, but that one sports a darker-colored head.
Fischer’s lovebirds are very colorful, and several selectively bred color mutations exist:
- Wild color: Light green belly, dark green wings and back, yellow chest, brownish orange head, red beak.
- Blue: Turquoise belly, back and wings, white chest, grey-white head and pinkish beak. There are also variations showing a more violet blue.
- Lutino: Like wild color, but without the green. Brighter orange on the head.
- Pied: Occurs with any color. White spots can show up anywhere on the body.
- Albino: Fully white with red eyes and skin-colored beak.
- Sable: No grey at all on the head, only clear color.
- Yellowface: As the name suggests.
This list is by no means complete: hobbyists and professionals are always busy selectively breeding lovebirds in order to create new color mutations.
There are also hybrid birds available that are crosses between Agapornis fischeri and another lovebird species. A. fischeri x A. personatus and other crosses between eye-ring lovebirds are fertile. Crosses between A. fischeri and other lovebirds, like the popular A. roseicollis, are not, as they’re too far removed genetically.
There is some discussion on whether hybridization of lovebirds and other parrots is a desirable thing or not. If you’re wondering whether yours is a hybrid, this page may be helpful.
Did you know? Telling the difference between a male and female Fischer’s lovebird is not possible visually, as they’re identical. Find out how to tell whether your lovebird is a boy or a girl in the post on sexing a lovebird.
Agapornis fischeri natural habitat
All nine species of lovebirds are naturally found in Africa. Agapornis fischeri specifically has a relatively small range, occuring only in Tanzania. Here, it shares its natural habitat with the likes of giraffes, lions, zebras, rhinos and other typical animals we’d imagine when thinking of Africa.
Fischer’s lovebirds are also sometimes found in Rwanda and Burundi, but it’s unclear whether they travel there to find water during droughts or if these are just feral populations. The parrots pop up in farmland and even cities, but are still considered Near Threatened by the IUCN as a result of trapping, habitat loss and hybridization.
As with a bunch of other lovebirds, feral populations of A. fischeri are actually pretty common. They’re adaptable and have settled in places close to home like Kenya, but also further away, like in Puerto Rico, Florida, Portugal, France and more.
In their natural range, small flocks of Fischer’s lovebirds are almost always located close to water. They prefer wooded grassland, like savannahs, with trees like Acacia and Commiphora (myrrh). During the dry season in particular, they can also be found along rivers.
The species roosts (sleeps) and nests in hollow spaces, palm trees or even sometimes in other birds’ nests. The latter isn’t something parasitical; these Agapornis co-exist pretty peacefully with various species, especially the rufous-tailed weaver.
Unfortunately, the IUCN considers the Fischer’s lovebird to be Near Threatened, with population numbers decreasing. It notes that at some point, this was the most commonly traded wild bird in the world!
Although trapping it has been made illegal and the species is now bred in captivity, the practice still occurs.
Did you know? The Fischer’s lovebird is named after Gustav Fischeri, the German explorer who was the first Westerner to discover the species.
Agapornis fischeri diet
In the wild, Fischer’s lovebirds are mainly seed eaters. Their comparatively large beaks are perfectly designed to crack open even tough seeds! They particularly enjoy grass seeds, including corn if they can get it from nearby farmland.
Other foods eaten by this species include Acacia seeds, as well as fruits from the fig family Ficus and others. I think it’s safe to conclude from the photo below that they’ll also consume Euphorbia ingens fruits if given the chance.
With a parrot like this one, which almost exclusively consumes seeds in the wild, it can be tempting to assume that they’ll do well on a commercial birdseed mix. That’s what parrots eat, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work like this.
The dry seed mixes you can buy at the pet store don’t contain the same variety in terms of ripeness nor in seed types that your Fischer’s would find in the wild. On top of that, seeds are pretty fatty. They’re much too high in calories for domestic birds, which don’t move around nearly as much as their wild counterparts.
So what should you be feeding your Fischer’s lovebird, then? Well, a high-quality seed mix can absolutely form part of its diet (20%, for example). You can even increase their nutritiousness using the seed sprouting method.
Other foods that are good for these little parrots include:
- High-quality pellets for small hookbills
- Plenty of fresh vegetables (see: veggies for parrots)
- Some fresh fruits (see: fruits for parrots)
- Cooked grains like rice, pasta, quinoa and more
- Foraged foods like (pesticide-free) dandelion leaves, herbs, flowers, parrot-safe tree branches and more.
Obviously, your lovebird should also always have access to fresh water. To help keep its bones and feathers healthy, it’s a good idea to offer a calcium block as well.
Agapornis fischeri housing
Don’t let their small size fool you. Lovebirds are very active little parrots that need plenty of space to move around. The typical small, round bird cage is out of the question.
How large your bird’s cage should be depends on how much time it will get to spend flying free around the house every day. If it’ll mostly be able to enter and exit its cage freely, something like 18″ x 18″ (45 x 45 cm) should be okay.
If your Fischer’s lovebird will spend the majority of its time in its cage, you should go for something considerably larger, like 36″ x 36″ (91 x 91 cm). Horizontal space is more important than vertical space, since parrots mostly tend to hang around the top of their house.
For fully caged birds, like those kept outside, a big flight cage or aviary is needed. Remember that a maximum bar spacing of 1/2″ is important to prevent these inquisitive parrots from getting their heads stuck.
It’s not just cage size that matters… it’s also about what you do with the available space! First off, your lovebird needs plenty of perches, especially near the top of the cage, but they should be positioned in such a way that there’s still flying space in the middle.
Perches should be made of natural wood, not dowel or plastic, to ensure healthy birdie feet in the long run.
Other important cage accessories include lots of toys (see the section on enrichment below), as well as multiple food and water stations.
Agapornis fischeri enrichment
In Spanish, lovebirds are called “inseparables”. It’s commonly thought around the world that they must be kept in pairs, and that if one half of a pair passes away, its partner will soon die as well.
This is not necessarily true, and Agapornis don’t form stronger bonds with their mates than other parrots. What is true, however, is that they’re extremely social and will wither without enough interaction. An attention-starved lovebird can become aggressive, begin self-harming, turn apathetic or start chirping incessantly.
Social interaction can be with you or with another lovebird. If you have a lot of time to spend with your Fischer’s, like if you work from home, you don’t necessarily need to get yours a friend or mate. If you’re away a lot, like if you’re on a 9-5 work day, it’s probably best to keep two.
Tip: It’s often said that you will lose your bond with your parrot if you get a second one. This is true only if you don’t put in the work to maintain your connection. In my opinion, keeping small parrots like lovebirds in pairs is actually really fun! I will personally not be keeping parrots solo anymore.
Although plenty of social contact will do a lot to keep your Fischer’s lovebird entertained and happy, it needs more than that. Remember, despite their size, these birds are very smart. In the wild, they spend most of their day putting their little brains to work, so don’t let yours sit in its cage bored.
First off, it’s a great idea to decorate your lovebird’s cage with plenty of colorful, shreddable, sound-making toys for small parrots. Foraging toys specifically can keep a parrot busy for hours. To keep things interesting, rotate toys regularly. To keep it safe, discard any that are too banged up.
Secondly, as we’ve alluded to, your bird will need to spend time outside of its cage daily unless it’s in a big aviary. This doesn’t just reduce the risk of obesity by allowing it to spread its wings, but also keeps it entertained. You can set up a little play area on top of the cage. Make sure the room is safe.
Other excellent enrichment ideas for Fischer’s lovebirds and other parrots include:
- Training. It’s a triple whammy: you spend time together, your bird learns something useful, and it makes a great boredom buster. You can begin with taming.
- Bathing. Most lovebirds love to splash around! If yours doesn’t want to use its bird bath, you can see if it likes to be misted with room-temperature water.
- Foraging. Expand the concept beyond just toys by making a foraging box, picking some wild grasses outdoors or even just by serving fruit and veggies whole rather than cut into neat pieces. Get that birdie to work for its food.
Agapornis fischeri temperament
Fischer’s lovebirds are true little pocket rockets. They’re fiercely loyal and love social contact, but they do sometimes need a little socializing to keep them from becoming nippy. They may be small, but that beak can draw blood! Parrots in general are also destructive and love chewing up whatever they can find.
I’d describe lovebirds as fun, hyper, curious, often cuddly, always ready to party and amazingly smart for their size. You can easily teach yours loads of tricks: fetch, waving, holding up notes, birdie basketball and more.
All in all, despite their feistiness and occasional drama queen antics, I think Fischer’s lovebirds are suitable as first time parrots. Always be careful if you have children around.
Is Agapornis fischeri noisy?
If you’re here because you’re looking for a quiet pet, I’ve got bad news. All parrots are loud, and that includes Fischer’s lovebirds! Although they’re by no means the most vocal species around, they’re definitely not quiet either. You need to make sure you’re ready before getting a noisy pet like a lovebird.
Agapornis flock calls, which they use to locate flock members, are shrill and squeaky. You’ll hear these most often during the early morning and at sundown. The rest of the day, your bird is likely to produce plenty of chattering and whistles.
You can have a listen at XenoCanto.
Can Fischer’s lovebirds talk?
Ehh, I wouldn’t put Fischer’s lovebirds and other Agapornis on the list of best talking parrots. That being said, all parrots possess some ability to imitate humans. Lovebird peeps will sometimes include fragments like their name, kissy noises or little tunes they’ve picked up.
You can read more and listen to examples in the article on lovebird talking.
Agapornis fischeri safety & emergencies
Like all parrots, Fischer’s lovebirds have a unique talent for getting themselves in trouble. They’re fragile and easily hurt, and don’t forget that some seemingly inconspicuous items can be dangerous to them.
Keep in mind the following:
- Parrots should not be in contact with other pets. No interactions with cats, dogs, different parrot species and other animals, please!
- Due to their extremely sensitive lungs, parrots and other birds can die when exposed to fumes from non-stick cookware, perfume, candles, insecticides and more.
- Any room your Fischer’s lovebird can roam in should be parrot-proofed. No toxic plants, no open windows, no power cables to chew up.
- You should take your lovebird to an avian vet after buying it, for a check-up. After that, going yearly is a good idea. Keep an emergency number on hand.
- You need to be aware of what a sick parrot looks like, because they’re very good at hiding their discomfort. Symptoms can include puffed feathers, lethargy, nasal discharge and more.
- It’s a good idea to keep a little parrot first-aid kit on hand. It can have items like a blood-clotting agent, tweezers, gauze, cotton buds, disinfectant and more.
If you have any more questions about Agapornis fischeri or if you’d like to share your own experiences with these delightful lovebirds, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
Mwangomo, E. A., Hardesty, L. H., Sinclair, A. R. E., Mduma, S. A., & Metzger, K. L. (2008). Habitat selection, diet and interspecific associations of the rufous‐tailed weaver and Fischer’s lovebird. African Journal of Ecology, 46(3), 267-275.