Learn all about the agapornis swindernianus, a bird from Africa.

Know everything about this very unknown bird, called the Agapornis Swindernianus but we could also call it a ghost agapornis because this bird is mysterious.

Description and Similarities

First described in 1820 by Kuhl, it was named after Dutch professor Théodore Van Swindern of the University of Groningen. Little is currently known about it until 182 years ago, as this species has never been introduced into Europe, or even kept in captivity for more than a few days.

Only its blue rump and green tail feathers crossed with red and black are there to remind us of its belonging to the genus Agapornis like roseicollis or pullarius, a species to which it is most likely related. As a result, three subspecies of the black-necked parakeet have been described.

From west to east, we encounter first and foremost the Liberian black-necked weeping bird, Agapornis swinderniana swinderniana, which appears to be the nominal form, and which is also the rarest. At about 13 cm long, barely larger than the gray hummingbird, males and females are similar in color and sport dark green plumage with a black collar lined under a brownish red nape collar.

Unlike all other Agapornis, the agapornis swindernianus has a black beak and the iris of the eye is bright yellow.( See Article: Gray Wheatear )

Distribution area

From Liberia to Uganda through Nigeria, Gabon and Zaire. In Cameroon, to the east, are found variety agapornis swindernianus zenkeri, originally described as a separate species (Agapornis zenkeri), which differs from the former by an orange-brown collar and not under the black clamp. It seems that this is the most common, or rather the least rare species.

Finally, in Zaire and Uganda, geographically isolated, we found the third form agapornis swindernianus emini, larger (15 cm) with black collar and yellow neck.

As extensive as their range is, there are currently no images of any of these birds alive. The only images available are those of naturalized birds in different museums. That is why we will content ourselves with observing them in “watercolor” form.

If these birds were never captured in very small numbers, it is because they are very difficult to locate due to their small size, dark green color and forest habitat. And yes, unique among Agapornis, these birds live at the top of trees in dense tropical forests up to 2000 meters altitude, in bands of 15 or 20 and rarely descend to the ground.

Eggs and nests have never been observed, but it is a safe bet that they nest in hollow branch cavities or termite mounds very high in trees, and no doubt build a summary nest made of a few twigs carried in rump feathers like Agapornis roseicollis and Agapornis pullarius.

The discovery of well-developed testicular males in July suggests that breeding occurs at this time of year.


Their diet remains an enigma and our knowledge is limited to what we might find by examining the contents of the crop of dead birds. Fresh fig seeds seem to be the basis of their diet, but they also feed on millet, fruit, ripe corn and especially insects and their larvae. I recommend you to see this article about Poultry Meal .

Can You Breed This Swindernianus Lovebird?

Father Hutsebout, a Belgian missionary, is said to have bred some individuals of the zenkeri species, probably in the Congo, and he mentions that without fresh figs, the birds die in only 3 or 4 days.

In 1979, a famous German breeder, Siegfried Bischoff, undertook on his own initiative a trip to the original homelands of Agapornis swindernianus, to learn a little about it. He only saw, and without being sure, some birds flying in the distance, without being able to affirm that they were indeed Agapornis swindernianus. ( See Article: Royal Swift )

Since then, no further missions have been carried out, and at present nothing is known about the numbers of this species in the wild. The wide range of the species will probably limit its decline, but its visibly highly specialized diet puts it in a delicate position where nothing seems to be able to counteract the massive destruction of a highly coveted forest.

All researchers who spent the years from 1939 to 1961 came to the same conclusion: despite all attempts to find an alternative diet, no one succeeded in keeping these birds alive in captivity. The exception to the current 1961 rule in the Congo, by Father Hutsebaut.

He had managed to keep captured subjects for several months by providing fresh figs of different species, but also green millet, unripe or boiled corn and various insects and larvae that gather in the forest. ( See Article: Agapornis Canus )

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