Nyasa Lovebird Agapornis lilianae


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because its moderately small population may be in decline. If the total population is found to be smaller, it may qualify for a higher threat category.

Population justification
The total population is estimated to number less than 20,000 birds. It is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals, equatiung to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species and unsustainable levels of exploitation.

Distribution and population

Agapornis lilianae occurs along the Zambezi Valley in Mozambique and into Zimbabwe, northwards along the Luangwa River into Zambia and southern Tanzania, and along the Shire River into Malawi, where it occurs throughout Liwonde National Park (Mzumara et al. 2014). Although it has been described as common in most of its range (Collar 1997), the total population is estimated to number less than 20,000 birds (UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database, January 2005). The global range may be less than 20,000 km (Harrison et al. 1997, UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database, January 2005).


The species has a strong association with mopane Colophospermum mopane woodland in the south of its range, but also inhabits belts of Acacia on aluvium and riparian forest, and frequents fig trees in the north of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1997). In Liwonde National Park, Malawi, it occurs in a variety of habitats, but instead of mopane woodland it is most strongly associated with wet grassland (Mzumara et al. 2014). It feeds on grass seeds, including Hyparrhenia, millet and wild rice Oryza perennis, but also takes flowers, seeds and fruit of other species. Breeding takes place from January to March and in June and July in Zambia, with laying possibly occurring in January and February in Malawi, and young have been observed during April in Zimbabwe. The nest is a roofed structure in crevices in mopane trees. In captivity the clutch-size is three to eight eggs, with an incubation period of c.22 days and a fledging period of 44 days (del Hoyo et al. 1997).


Its population has been reduced considerably by flooding of a large section of the Zambezi valley by Lake Kariba, and very likely also by the Cahorra Bassa Dam in Mozambique. It is considered a pest by small-scale farmers (Harrison et al. 1997). In addition to legal trapping of large numbers for the international cage-bird trade (over 10,000 since 1981 when it was listed on CITES Appendix II), many are captured and sold locally in Mozambique, and the species is also captured and traded in Zimbabwe and Zambia (V. Parker in litt. 2003, UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database, January 2005). The species also suffers some unintentional mortality as pools are poisoned by hunters to catch larger birds, but this species is killed as a byproduct of this (Mzumara 2012)

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. An engagement project is underway in Liwonde National Park, Malawi (Mzumara 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an overall population estimate. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Control or halt trapping and trade in order to prevent over-exploitation.


14cm. Small green parrot with an orange head, a short tail, strong red bill and extensive white occipital area. Similar spp. Fischer's Lovebird A. fischeri has a bright blue rump and is larger.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Stattersfield, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.

Parker, V.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Agapornis lilianae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/12/2022.