A lovebird are a social and affectionate small parrot!
A lovebird are a social and affectionate small parrot. Eight species are native to the African continent, and the grey-headed lovebird is native to Madagascar. Their name stems from the parrots’ strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods which paired birds spend sitting together. Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat fruit, vegetables, grasses and seed. Black-winged lovebirds also eat insects and figs, and the black-collared lovebirds have a special dietary requirement for native figs, making them problematic to keep in captivity. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Lovebirds are 13 to 17 centimeters in length and 40 to 60 grams in weight. They are among the smallest parrots, characterized by a stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large, sharp beak. Wild type lovebirds are mostly green with a variety of colors on their upper body, depending on the species. The Fischer’s lovebird, black-cheeked lovebird, and the masked lovebird have a prominent white ring around their eyes. Many color mutant varieties have been produced by selective breeding of the species that are popular in aviculture. It is preferable to obtain birds bred in captivity, rather than birds caught from the wild. Wild birds may be harboring a disease, such as avian polyomavirus. Captured wild lovebirds also may mourn the loss of association with a mate or a flock. Their age is likely to be unknown, and they may have an unsuitable personality for domestication. Currently, lovebirds are no longer imported from the wild. Lovebirds are not necessarily best kept in pairs, as their name suggests, although relationships with humans are then less likely to be as intense when paired. Birds kept individually or brought up hand-fed, make very good pets. However, single birds require frequent attention to stay happy. Some lovebirds talk, but many will not: there is a chance they may learn to mimic human sounds if taught to do so at a young age. Lovebirds are noisy, with calls ranging from cheerily pleasant to highly irritating; in the wild, parrots must call to each other over long distances to keep flocks together, and it is through such signals that most of their communication is made. It is best to spend frequent, short periods of time with a lovebird, rather than having just one or two interactions every day.
A yellow-collared lovebird perching by the entrance to a nest box in a large aviary at Honolulu Zoo, Hawaii, USA lovebirds require an appropriately sized cage or aviary. Minimum recommended space per bird is 1m×1m×1m. Lovebird’s beaks are made of keratin, which grows continuously. Chewing and destroying wood toys and perches helps to keep beaks trim. Cuttlebones help provide beak-trimming and a source of calcium and other necessary minerals. Natural perches and special rough surfaced perches of varying diameters placed at different levels in the cage will allow greater climbing mobility and gives them a choice to select the most comfortable spot to roost. They also require plenty of toys, such as willow branches, swings, tunnels, boxes and safe things to chew on and play with. Lack of toys, keeping the birdcage covered too many hours, and lack of companionship or social stimulation may lead to boredom, stress and psychological or behavioral problems (nervousness, aggression, feather-plucking, screaming, depression). Lovebirds are extremely social birds and will enjoy several hours of interaction a day. Without this interaction, daily exercise, a roomy cage/aviary, and many toys to play with, they may resort to feather-plucking, or screaming, and both behaviors can be difficult to cure. It is suggested that if the owner leaves the house that they leave a radio or TV set playing, to provide sound. Lovebirds are intelligent, and if a relationship is to form they need a human who will dedicate lots of time with them. Lovebirds enjoy baths and like to sun themselves daily.
As with pet parrots in general, the tips of lovebirds’ toenails should wear down adequately by the parrot climbing over rough surfaced perches. If the parrot has an inactive lifestyle, however, occasionally the toe nails grow long and may need to be trimmed. Only the very tips of the toe nails are trimmed. If too much of a toe nail is trimmed away, it will be painful and bleed from the blood vessels in the centre of the nail. This bleeding should be stopped as soon as possible with the use of styptic gel or powder. Sharp pointed toe nails that scratch the owner can be blunted by simply filing the point. These procedures are usually done with the help of an assistant carefully holding the parrot wrapped in a towel.
A fresh mix (with or without dehydrated fruits and/or vegetables) of excellent quality combining various seeds, grains and nuts generally represent the typical basic diet. Ideally the basic mix will contain or will be supplemented with an about 30% portion of any bio/organic (naturally coloured and flavoured and without any conservative agent) and/or of any natural (naturally coloured, flavoured and preserved) pellets.
Ideal basic dry mix: Home made:- 40% Yellow millet – 18% canary seed – 10% White millet – 9% Peeled oats – 5% Japanese millet – 4% Safflower – 4% Buckwheat – 3% Paddy rice – 3% Oats – 2% Linseed – 2% Hempseed.
Lovebirds are very vocal birds, making loud, high-pitched noises. Some make noise all day, especially during dawn and dusk. This is a normal parrot behavior as flock animals, where they are calling to each other before the start of the day and just before they settle down for the night. Lovebirds are also very active and love to chew things. When they are flying within a household, it is wise to watch them carefully and protect any furniture, electrical wiring or anything else that they could possibly chew on. Try to place fresh willow or oak branches in a favorite spot (e.g. near a high/sunny platform) to satisfy this natural behavior. Other things to be aware of when keeping lovebirds (also applies to other pet birds) at home are the danger spots in the house, such as open toilet bowls for drowning, clear glass walls which might be rammed in full force by the bird, fumes from all teflon or anti-stick coating in the kitchen, microwave coatings, oven coatings and chemical fumes from regular household cleaning products. Interaction with other pets in the house must also be supervised, such as cats and dogs which may view the lovebird as a prey animal. Some people who keep birds as pets practice the clipping of the flight feathers for safety reasons as mentioned above. This also promotes tameness between the bird and the owner; the bird is unable to react to flee and must become dependent on its owner for lengthy travel.