Lovebird Mutations Guide (With Photos)


Cinnamon cockatiel
Cinnamon cockatiel

The term “Love Bird” refers to the nine species of Agapornis. Eight of these species are native to Africa, with the ninth hailing from the island of Madagascar.

The Common Species

In captivity, three species of Love Bird are rather common: Peachfaced, Masked, and Fischer’s.

  • Peachfaced Love Bird (Agapornis roseicollis)

  • Masked Love Bird (Agapornis personata)
Blue masked (dark factor), sometimes called cobalt
Green masked Love Bird (wild-type)
  • Fischer’s Love Bird (Agapornis fischeri)
Two green Fischer’s and their albino baby
Blue Fischer’s

The Rares

The following species are either uncommon or unknown in aviculture, and are referred to collectively as “the rares.”

  • Nyasa Love Bird (Agapornis lilianae)
Green Nyasa Love Bird
Lutino and blue Nyasa Love Birds
  • Black-Cheeked Love Bird (Agapornis nigrigenis)
A young black-cheeked lovebird in flight
Blue black-cheeked lovebirds
  • Madagascar Love Bird (Agapornis cana)
  • Abyssinian Love Bird (Agapornis taranta)
Left, female Abyssinian lovebird; right, male
A clutch of Abyssinian babies. Pairs generally have four chicks in a clutch.
  • Black-Collared Love Bird (Agapornis Swindernia)
Black-collared Lovebird
(Agapornis swindernia)
Known to be very shy birds who do not breed well in captivity.

The enormous diversity of color mutations that have been created is one of the most interesting elements of raising and breeding Love Birds. The Peach-faced Love Bird has at least 17 different mutations, perhaps more than any other species of captive parrot save the budgerigar. More information on the presently known Love Bird mutations may be found below.

For our more advanced breeders, you can try out Rasek’s Genetics Calculator for more mutations and combinations.

Peach-faced Mutations

Recessives

  • Blue, Whitefaced Blue, and Seagreen.
  • Orange-faced

On the left is an Orangefaced Lacewing, while on the right is an Orangefaced Lutino. Lacewing mutations occur between Ino and American Cinnamon or Australian Cinnamon and American Cinnamon. The Lacewing below is a Lutino as well as an American Cinnamon. Lacewings are very uncommon birds, with just a 3% chance of generating a Lacewing crossover. Because the female bears the sex-determining chromosome pair in lovebirds (unlike humans), there is generally just one sex-linked mutation. When the crossover happens, both sex-linked mutations end up on the same chromosomal pair. The male bird must carry (either visibly or split to) American Cinnamon and Lutino in order to create a lacewing (or Australian Cinnamon).

Unlike the American Dilute, the feathers have no lacing or edge, contrary to what the name implies. Lacewings have cinnamon-colored flights, a light blue rump, and cinnamon stripes across the tail feathers, with the rest of the body looking similar to the Ino (notice the red eyes).


Photo Credits: Linda Brandt- Orangefaced Lacewing and Orangefaced Lutino


  • Fallow
  • American Yellow (Dilute) and Japanese Yellow (Imperial Golden Cherry)
  • Australian Recessive Pied (dark-eyed clear)

Sex-Linked Characteristics

  • Lutino, American Cinnamon, & Australian Cinnamon
  • Lacewing
  • Opaline

Opaline is a novel mutation identified in Becky Anderson’s aviary in Michigan in 1997. On January 18, 1997, the first Opaline infant was born. This mutant was created by breeding two apparently common green birds. What a lovely mutant! The green opaline features a hood-like redhead and a red-orange tail. Opalines are also a brighter shade of green than traditional greens. Unlike a conventional green bird, the rump is green like the rest of the body. Babies are readily identified by their thick yellow down and, as they get bigger, the red on the rear of the skull. The red covering the whole head will begin to appear when the babies go through their adult molt. Opaline is a sex-linked mutation that may be paired with a variety of other mutations to create even more stunning birds.

The ALBS membership decided in 2003 to include an Opaline Section in the show categories. Only a few years have passed, yet Opalines are currently being bred all over the globe!!


Photo Credits: Linda Brandt – Green, Medium Green, and Dark Green Opalines



Photo Credits: Blake Ma – American Cinnamon Opaline Baby



Photo Credits: Lisa Viteri – Green Opaline Pied



Photo Credits: Royan Webb – Lutino Opaline and Australian Cinnamon Opaline

Royan Webb – Medium Seagreen Opaline

Partial Dominants

  • Dark Factor
  • Violet

Dominants

  • American Pied
  • Green

Other

  • Longfeather

The Longfeather is bigger and stockier than the usual Peach-faced Lovebird, and its coloration is fairly bright. Chicks in a Longfeather pair’s nest may vary in size. Some may be enormous ‘genuine’ Longfeathers, while others may be smaller ‘Intermediates.’

Longfeather Peachfaced Lovebirds have more vivid coloration, a wider upper mandible, are broader across the chest and have bigger feet and stout legs when compared to our other Peachfaced Lovebirds.


Photo Credits: Marilena Salmones



Photo Credits: Blake Ma (Birds owned by Lisa Viteri and Blake Ma)



Photo Credits: Lisa Viteri
(At 40 days old tjos American Cinnamon Longfeather already weighed 60 grams)

Color Changes That are not Genetically inherited

  • Red Suffusion

Mutations in the Masked, Fischer’s, Black-Cheeked, and Nyasa

Specific mutations

  • Blue
  • Lutino
  • Yellow (Dilute)
  • Dark Factor
  • Violet
  • Fallow
  • Pied

Mutations in other Love Bird Species

  • The Abyssinian Love Bird (Agapornis taranta)

This is one of the “rares,” since it is the biggest of the Agapornis species and is not often kept as a pet. This species is dimorphic, which means that the male and female can be distinguished visually.

  • The Madagascar Love Bird

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