Friday, April 17, 2009

Colourful bird is a Fischer's Lovebird: Bird Park

Pretty feathered friend pays visit to my home

Jurong Bird Park has identified this colourful bird seen at a Buangkok flat as a Fischer's Lovebird.

In an earlier STOMP story, STOMPer Vanillajis said the bird paid a visit to their Buangkok home on the Sunday afternoon of April 12.

The STOMPer said the colourful bird seemed very friendly and did not show any sign of being afraid, even when they put a big zip lock bag over it.

The Fischer's Lovebird, which goes by the scientific name Agapornis fischeri, is a small parrot species of the Lovebird genus.

They were first bred in the United States in 1926, but were originally discovered in the late 1800s.

The bird was named after German explorer Gustav Fischer.

It has a high-pitched chirp and loves eating a wide variety of foods, including seeds and fruits.

Related article:
Pretty feathered friend pays visit to my home

Related post: Pretty feathered friend pays visit to my home

As seen in a previous post, Singapore is becoming a place where all sorts of exotic birds might be encountered, as a result of the international trade in birds as pets.

Singapore has been a centre for the exotic bird trade since the 19th century, and a great number of birds from all over the world can be found in pet shops. Parrots, being extremely popular as pets, are a group of birds that can be commonly encountered as escapees. Naturalised and feral populations of various species can be found in areas far from their native lands, from flocks of rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri) in London to yellow-crested cockatoos (Cacatua sulphurea) in Hong Kong, to monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus) in New York.

Simply because of the fact that so many parrots are being exported and traded as pets, the chances of an urban birdwatcher encountering an escaped or released parrot are much higher. And because of this same fact, there is a likelihood that a newly escaped or released bird will be able to find other members of its species in the vicinity, which can lead to the establishment of a breeding population. Also, many parrot species are very long-lived, and even if an individual bird is unable to find a breeding partner, it can afford to wait for years or even decades for an opportunity to present itself.

This article on naturalised urban parrots discusses many interesting examples of how parrots manage to adapt to city life far from their native habitat, and suggests the possible conservation implications; considering that many of these naturalised urban parrots actually belong to species threatened in their native range, perhaps it is possible to alleviate some of the effects of habitat loss by encouraging parrots to adapt to urban areas.

Here in Singapore, home to 3 native parrot species, more than 20 other species have been recorded as free-flying flocks or individuals. It is most likely that all of these were escaped or released pets. Although only a minority of these species have bred successfully in the wild, it is possible that there are some negative impacts on native birds. In fact, both the native long-tailed parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) and the introduced rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) appear to be in the process of being displaced by the red-breasted parakeet (Psittacula alexandri). Given that parrots nest in cavities, there is also likely to be competition for nest sites with other bird species.

The Fischer's lovebird is the second species of lovebird encountered in Singapore*, a blue mutation of the peach-faced lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis) having been spotted at Venus Link last year. I'm not sure if we can add this record of the Fischer's lovebird to our bird lists just yet, although it certainly is a very interesting record.

*Do note however, that the peach-faced lovebird had a companion, and while the photo does not provide a definitive ID, there is the possibility that the second lovebird may have been a blue mutation of the Fischer's lovebird or masked lovebird (Agapornis personatus).