For the Love of Lovebirds
©2009, Kimberly Hartfield
Lovebird is the common name for a small parrot, which has a large hooked beak and brightly colored plumage and is commonly kept as a pet bird. They usually snuggle up quite close to their mate with their heads leaning against one another. Love birds are popular cage birds because they are fairly inexpensive, easy to care for, resistant to most disease, and have a variety of colors to choose from. They are truly a joy to watch, and the sound of their delicate tweets is beautiful to hear, and they are quiet at night. Lovebirds are one of several species that originally came from Africa and Madagascar in the 1800s. The main ones are the Gray-headed Lovebird, the Red-faced Lovebird, the Black-winged Lovebird, the Black-collared Lovebird, the Peach-faced Lovebird, the Masked Lovebird, Fischer’s Lovebird, the Nyasa Lovebird, and the Black-cheeked Lovebird. There are several Hybrids in addition to these. These lovebirds range from about five to seven inches long, having large heads and short tails. Their coloring is generally green, blue or yellow with red, yellow, gray, blue, or black markings on their heads, necks, or tails. The females are usually a little bit larger than the males.
Lovebirds are good for beginners and not very expensive to own. The birds themselves usually cost less than their cage and accessories. A lovebird can live more than ten years in a cage, without needing any kind of medication, being quite resistant to most disease. They are very tolerant to wide fluctuations in temperature and are the bird of choice for many bird keepers. They are fairly easy to breed, but take about a year to do so. The male and female are very hard to tell apart, so if you want a breeding pair, you may have to pay a little more to insure that your birds will breed. Otherwise you just have to take your chances unless you buy a half dozen young ones or so and let them pair up on their on as they mature. The Peach-faced is known to be the easiest to breed. A pair will generally produce three clutches a year. They usually lay about four to six eggs to a clutch, with both parents helping to raise the chicks. Breeding pairs need to be separated from other pairs, but even breeding pairs will sometimes bicker and fight, much like their human companions that pair up. Most of the time, they gently groom each other and just snuggle. Now that’s what I call love! Have a good squabble and make up later! The females often dominate the males, which simply do as their told. This is a good relationship! But males can be abusive to the chicks, so you may have to remove him. Lovebirds will bite, when they feel their nest is threatened.
In the wild, Lovebirds eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, buds, dandelion greens, berries, figs, mealworms, grubs, insects, corn, and many grains, including grass seed and millet. They will not overeat, nor eat something that’s not good for them, so you can experiment quite a bit to see what they like. You can provide a cuttlebone or crushed eggshell for calcium. Figs are a favorite of the wild birds, so try those if you have a fig tree. A good parrot seed mix should be their base diet, but you can add any of the above as they are available to supplement the seed mix. Fresh water should always be provided as well, along with eggshells and sand or grit, which helps in digestion. Honeysuckle vines are a good nesting material for the nesting box, which should be placed high in a fairly large sized cage or aviary.