African Zoology

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Characteristics of roost cavities used by Lilian’s Lovebird Agapornis lilianae in Liwonde National Park, Malawi

Tiwonge I Mzumara, Michael R Perrin, Colleen T Downs


Lilian’s Lovebird Agapornis lilianae is a non-excavating cavity user of mopane Colophospermum mopane woodlands. We investigated roost characteristics of Lilian’s Lovebirds in Liwonde National Park, Malawi. We quantified tree and roost site variables for roost and non-roost trees. Sixty-six roosts were found. Roosts were in large tall mopane trees with a mean diameter at breast height (dbh) of 57.4 ± 1.64 cm, a mean height of 16.5 ± 0.42 m, and with a mean cavity entrance height of 10.0 ± 0.05 m. Non-roost areas had significantly smaller trees (mean dbh = 39.4 ± 1.72 cm). Human disturbance was low in both areas, but browsing of African elephant Loxodonta africana was evident by large areas of stunted mopane woodland recorded in non-roost areas. We recommend that the current Liwonde National Park vegetation map be updated to highlight areas of stunted mopane woodland unsuitable for Lilian’s Lovebird roosts. The impact of elephant browsing on large mopane trees should be assessed to understand its impact on the availability of suitable cavities for lovebirds and other tree cavity reliant vertebrate species.

Keywords: Agapornis lilianae, cavity, conservation, lovebird, mopane, parrot, roosting
AJOL African Journals Online