Peach-faced Lovebirds Prosper in Arizona

January 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

There is something so enjoyable – so soothing – about watching a wild-bird frolic in your backyard. That pleasure increases somewhat when the bird in question is a peach-faced lovebird. These delightful little birds are not only a pleasure to look at, but their curious antics make for enjoyable bird watching.

The peach-faced lovebird is an attractive little bird with its peach-colored facial plumage, green body feathers and bright blue tail feathers. The small bill, grey around the eye and diminutive size – a body length of roughly 17 or 18cms – round up the picture and give it a very cute appearance. This is the creature that has gotten many bird lovers in Arizona out into their gardens where they can enjoy watching them at their leisure. Why is that unusual? Because the peach-faced lovebird hails all the way from south-west Africa where it thrives in natural arid habitats such as the Namib Desert. How then, did these non-migratory birds get all the way from Africa to Arizona in the US where they are now commonly spotted splashing around in backyard garden fountains or snacking at bird feeders? Well, it seems they had a little help.

According to Greg Clark, the creator of the peach-faced lovebird spotting website and a coordinator for the nonprofit group called Wild at Heart, the wild bird populations of this species probably originate from large aviaries that existed in the area a few years back. The birds bred well in captivity and before long, large flocks of them were flourishing. The aviary owners decided to turn the birds loose, creating a strong and large enough population for them to continue to reproduce well in the wild. However the true key to success of these birds is the fact that they were released in an environment which suited them down to the bone. The hot, dry and dusty arid conditions found in Arizona were similar to the conditions they enjoyed back home and so the peach-faced lovebirds thrived where other birds, such as parakeets and cockatiels, have failed. The planting of a number of exotic plants in the area and the absence of natural predators has further contributed to their success. Normally the existence of such a species would be problematic, but it seems that the peach-faced lovebird isn’t causing too many problems in its new habitat. In fact, its beautiful plumage and delightful behavior is catching the attention of non-bird watchers, drawing even more people to the wonders of nature. So, while authorities are keeping a strict eye on the little bird, it seems that for now, they are content to let them stay in their new home.

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