What do lovebird have that makes many people fall in love with this curious bird? Its beauty? The simplicity of its care? Or maybe it’s how sociable it is with human beings?
Types of lovebirds
What is a lovebird?
A lovebird, which is the common name of the Agapornis roseicollis, is a bird that belongs to the Psittaculidae family originally from Africa. Its name comes from the New Greek word agape, which means love or affects, and ornis, which means bird.
Since the male and the female lovebirds are inseparable, they spend a lot of time together, arranging each other’s feathers or giving affection together, it’s a name that describes them very well.
What do lovebirds look like?
Its shape is quite peculiar. These are small parrots, with a total of 9 species, whose size is between 13 and 16 cm, depending on the species. Its feathers are very colorful and stand out for their short tail.
In most cases, their wings are green, as well as tail, which can be a little bit darker green. The breast and forehead are usually in a red-orange color. In some other cases, the wings are not green but yellow.
The characteristics and behavior of a lovebird
The agapornis are usually quite reliable animals with the human being, although much more so with their own species and other birds. As a general rule it is not usually a violent animal or that usually attack, unless it feels very threatened. There are a number of clues to help you understand the bird’s state of mind.
- Happy: if the lovebird is happy, it will be active, will snoop around and fix its feathers, and will make sounds. It will never stop, which is a signal of its good mood.
- Calm: When the agapornis is calm, it will stretch its legs and pose with its feathers hollowed out. It’s also common for them to show a quiet state when their head is back while they’re on their hanger.
- Sad: it’s normal for the lovebird to be in motion. However, if the bird doesn’t move or isn’t as sociable as other times, it’ll be because it’s sad, or maybe it wants to get out of its cage or feels lonely inside of it.
- Sociable: The lovebird is a very sociable bird. With other agapornis you can see how they feed each other, they stand together on the stick or keep make sounds at each other.
- Aggressive: it’s not common to see an aggressive lovebird, but if it is, it will start flapping its wings constantly, making threatening noises, trying to hurt itself or scratching with its legs. An example of how they can be like this is because they believe their brood’s in danger.
What is a lovebird lifespan?
You have surely wondered how long do lovebirds live. Life expectancy of lovebirds is similar for all species, and they’re one of the longest-lived birds.
A lovebird lifespan is about 12 years, but with good care, these birds can live up to 15 years as long as they have been well fed and the owner gives them the proper care. It’s not difficult to achieve, as the animal only requires about 20 minutes of attention per day.
How to tell the sex of a lovebird?
Is my lovebird male or female? Everybody says it’s better to look at the bird’s genitals when you’re wondering how to tell the sex of a lovebird. It’s because the bones of the male’s pelvis are closer to each other, and the same ones in the female are separated and they have a rounded shape, which allows them to lay eggs.
There are other guidelines to help you know the lovebird gender. For example, unlike other birds, a female lovebird is often larger than a male lovebird, due to the hard task of laying eggs. Female agapornis usually have a rounded head and larger beak, while male agapornis have a more uniform head and a smaller beak. Females tend to be more aggressive and territorial with other birds than males.
How do I get my lovebird to trust me?
There are many YouTube videos where owners will quietly carry their lovebirds on their shoulder or in their hands. It’s not something you get in one day. It takes a lot of work and patience for the bird to trust its owner.
At first it’s better to keep a little distance. The lovebird is locked in a cage and that makes it feel sad. It’ll also find itself in an unknown environment, which may make it a little nervous. So, during the first few days, avoid touching it or trying to catch it.
A couple of days later is when you have to start trying to gain the bird’s trust. The best way to do this is to place the cage in a room where there’s social life, such as a living room or a dining room. Little by little you have to get close to the cage and say its name, so that it gets used to your voice. If you notice that the lovebird avoids your physical contact, it will better to leave it alone. Step by step the animal will come closer to its owner to recognize him/her. But it won’t be ready to be touched yet.
There will come a time when the lovebird will not be frightened to see its owner is near the cage. In that case, try to start feeding him directly by holding your hand. Your pet lovebird may hesitate to get closer, but gradually it will do so. You may not get it the first time, but soon you will.
Once you find it to eat its snacks from your hand, it’s time to start trying to get the agapornis up on your finger. To do this, you have to slightly touch its breast, giving it a soft push to encourage it to climb up. You may be able to get off right away, so stop and try it again the next day. It will soon get used to getting on your finger, and then it will be time to take it out of the cage carefully. It’s important that the room is closed, because it’s common for the bird to try to explore around the place.
Is it recommended to let the lovebird out of the cage?
There’s no problem in letting the agapornis out of the cage to fly around the house. But it should only be done when the bird trusts its owner and with the rest of the people in the house.
You can let it fly around the house, but only if all the windows are closed, although it’s better to close the door of the room where the cage is located to avoid the lovebird escapes. When the bird gets tired of exploring, it will return to its cage by itself. And if it doesn’t, just put some of its favorite food in the feeder which will induce it to go back in.
You don’t have to worry about the agapornis hitting against the furniture, this is common when a bird doesn’t know the room.
All about the lovebird cage
There are several things you should know when it comes to buying and maintaining a lovebird cage. In this section we give you the details.
What to consider when buying a lovebird cage
The cage is the home of your lovebird and shouldn’t buy the first one you see. You have to buy a good quality lovebird cage. Consider that it will be where your pet bird will live throughout its life.
The size: we might think “the bigger the better”, but there’s no reason to buy the bigger one. For a couple of birds, the lovebird cage size would have to be 1 meter long, 0.5 meters wide and 0.5 meters high. So, in case you’re planning have only one bird, it has to be 0.5 meters long and 0.47 meters high and 0.47 meters wide. The best choice is to buy a bird cage designed for two birds, so the agapornis has enough space to fly. Additionally, the cages always have lovebird toys inside, so they end up becoming smaller.
The shape of the cage is as important as the size. It should not be round, as this causes them insecurity as they don’t have a reference point with which to feel at ease. For the birds all the points in the cage will be the same. It’s also not recommended a cage with the shape of a small house. Most of them are made of plastic, which makes it impossible for them to climb up the walls. So, the best choice is a rectangular cage with horizontal bars so that they can be grabbed with the legs or the beaks. The distance between the bars should not be more than 1.5 cm, thus preventing them from sticking their heads between them and dying by suffocation.
The lovebird cage must have at least two doors, one for water and food, and the other one for a nest outside. It can be needed for breeding or for the bird to go out and stretch its wings whenever it wants. The feeders should be filled from the outside, because if they’re filled from the inside they can be given an escape route from the cage. Related to the water, it’s the same as the feeder. You should buy a plastic tube for your pet agapornis to drink.
There are many different opinions about the bottom grid in a lovebird cage. It’s true that if it doesn’t exist, it’s easier to clean, but it also makes these animals eat food that has fallen on the ground, which may be contaminated by their feces, which is not recommended.
To make the cage easy to clean, it’s recommended to put newsprint or kitchen paper at the bottom. It can also be combined with special bird sand.
Lovebird toys to put in the cage
There are several toys for lovebirds. When you buy a cage for lovebirds you already have some plastic hangers included. It’s not that they’re a bad option for them, but they don’t benefit them either, because they can’t file their nails with plastic. Hangers with nail file are not recommended, because they’re rough and can damage its legs.
The best choice are the natural perches. You can find a wide options of these hangers in the pet shops, or make them by yourself. They’re not harmful to birds and they can file their nails with no risks. Your birds will also jump from one branch to another and exercise in the cage.
The biggest mistake we make is to fill the cage with a lot of toys. It represents less space for the agapornis to move around. That’s why you only have to buy them a couple of toys, like a rope or a swing. Unlike other birds, you can put a mirror inside, but it’s not a benefit for them, because they could be attracted to themselves, believing they have a partner in the cage.
How to clean a lovebird cage
Lovebirds are very clean birds, and you can prove it as they groom their wings every now and then. They like to live in a very clean space.
Once a week you should completely disinfect the cage by using a cloth with warm water and a little bleach, including the bars and toys. Then it should be rinsed to complete remove the bleach and dry it with another towel.
As for the bird, it’s normal to clean its feathers by itself, but you can put a large bowl with water and it will wash itself. It doesn’t really like it when humans clean it up, so it’s better to let it do it itself.
Where to put your lovebird cage
Is it difficult to find the perfect location for a lovebird cage? Well, sometimes it’s not that easy. It must be located in a place with no airtreams, that is, it must not be near the doors, windows or balconies. That is a very common mistake.
The best location to put the cage is a place where two sides of the cage are attached to the wall. Your agapornis will feel secure, free of smoke and lights that can directly reach to it.
What do lovebirds eat?
The feeding of agapornis is quite important, as they tend to get fat if they don’t come out of their cage to stretch their wings. That’s why their diet has to be made up of a balanced diet.
It’s normal for lovebirds to eat a mixture that’s composed of different types of seeds of a medium size, in which there are no seeds or fats that can fatten the animal. These are on the market, and the better composition is: 40% canary seed, 12% yellow millet, 12% white millet, 8% safflower, 4% buckwheat, 6% hemp, 6% cane, 2% oats, 6% red millet, 6% linseed and 4% blackcurrant.
Agapornis can also eat other types of food, this is essential to ensure good health. Therefore, something extra that can be given is a feed specially designed for them, which will provide them many nutrients that will help them to be healthy. They may not want to eat it at first, but in time they will accept it as just another meal.
Can lovebirds eat fruits?
There are many doubts about it. Many people ask: can lovebirds eat bananas? Can lovebirds eat watermelon? Can lovebirds eat grapes? Can lovebirds eat strawberries? We want you to know what fruits lovebirds can eat.
It’s recommended that once or twice a week your pet lovebird eats fruits and vegetables so that its body can receive the needed nutrients. The most recommended are strawberries, oranges, apples, pears, grapefruit, tangerines, papaya, garlic, lettuce, corn and green beans. All of them in tiny pieces to make the feeding easier.
There are several forbidden foods for being deadly to lovebirds, such as avocado, potatoes, pumpkin, meat, coffee, parsley, alcoholic drinks, soda, chocolate, sweets or salty foods. Nor should they be given milk instead of water to drink, as this can cause serious digestive issues.
To ensure the bird is healthy, especially during the breeding season, it’s better to give it some vitamins. These can be supplied through water, in small doses so that the animal doesn’t detect and reject them.
You have to think that when agapornis are young, they cannot eat the same as their parents. In these cases you have to look for breeding pastes, especially designed for the brood. Many studies have determined that the brood fed on it grow healthier. Many types can be found in the pet stores, made in collaboration between the major brands and professional breeders.
Known lovebird diseases
Agapornis are not free of disease. Some can be fatal, but others, if caught early, can be cured in a few days.
- Respiratory acariasis: The bird breathes tired, has a scratchy throat and feathers. It’s usually due to mites that nest in the mucous membranes of the throat. It can be easily cured with antibiotics.
- Cold: The common cold will make it difficult for the lovebird to breathe. If it has a cold, is because it’s in a draughty area.
- Asthma: It will breathe fatigued and feel down. This is because it’s in an area of the house with too much moisture or there are bacteria or fungi in its food. It’s better to mix antibiotics with food to help it recover.
- Dysentery: It will start to release soft stools, its movements will be rough, and it may peck at the food aggressively in the most severe cases. It can be produced by eating spoiled foods or an excess of overripe fruits or vegetables.
- Coccidiosis: The most common symptom is bloody stool from parasites. In these cases, you should disinfect the cage and the food before the birds eats it.
- Colibacillosis: The lovebirds are not hungry and usually spend the day sleeping. It can be a life-threatening disease, so start giving antibiotics as soon as possible.
- Enteritis: The bird will not be hungry because of the intestinal inflammation, but it will be thirsty. It’ll have parasites in its body due to emotional stress. Antibiotics should be given with the water to help it expel them.
- Abnormal molting: Parts of the agapornis’ body will be plucked, with a distorted, clumsy plumage. In these cases, you should feed it with lots of vitamins. It’s often common when it feels lonely or lost its partner.
- External parasites: Mites, lice or other parasites will appear by the feathers. In these cases, the cage should be cleaned, as well as the lovebird.
- Pneumonia: The lovebird will breathe with difficulty because of mucus in its cere. Like the cold, it’s caused by the airstreams. Antibiotics and vitamins should be given to help it recover.
- Psittacosis: It’s a rare disease with a viral origin. It has no cure and is deadly to humans as well. The lovebird will be nervous, very sleepy, will not sing, will not drink and will have strong attacks of diarrhea.
- Bites: If there are many mosquitoes in the house, it’s common they bite your bird. In these cases, place some protectors in the cage to prevent mosquitoes from biting. If the bird has been bitten, a special ointment should be applied to the affected area.
- Salmonellosis: Although it will look thin, its belly will be very swollen. Its breathing will be difficult, it will be very thirsty, but it won’t feel like eating. You should give them antibiotics and vitamin B should with food.
How to train lovebirds
Lovebirds are quite clever animals and can be trained so they can learn a few tricks when you have some guests.
A lovebird won’t speak as good as other birds, but it’s possible to make it come to you when you call it by its name. You can also try training it to take away the pencil you’re writing with or drink water from one of the glasses on a table, and even more…
Lovebird training should begin at an early age, when it’s about two or three months old. It’s the perfect stage when it’s ready to learn something new. There are some things to consider:
- Although it may be interested in learning new tricks, it’s possible that the bird will end up getting bored of doing the same thing over and over again, so if you notice that it lost the interest in the exercise, it’s better to leave it alone.
- Each day you have to dedicate a couple of sessions to lovebird training, with a lot of patience, because at the beginning it will be difficult for it to pay attention.
You should reward your lovebird whenever it has done something right, with a snack or its favorite food. But to make it more special, it has to be something the agapornis eat only once in a while. Some food that you give it a couple of times a week, which will make it work hard to get it.
When you start training your lovebird, the room you’re in should be closed to prevent it from escaping through the window or door. You don’t have to force it to do what it doesn’t want to do. Even if the agapornis already trusts you, it may be a little reluctant to try something new, no matter how much it likes it.
It’s possible that the lovebird pecks at you during the first few days of training. In this case you have to say “no” and put it back in the cage, so that it learns this is not something it can do whenever it wants.
This bird is normally taught the trick to climb on your finger or go to eat by your hand. In the beginning, this should be done inside the cage, and when the lovebird already trusts you, you can take it out of the cage standing on our finger. You can begin by calling it by its name. First you have to be close to the cage, and then, little by little extend the distance, just so it gets used to going when the bird hears its name. If the lovebird succeeds, it must be rewarded with the food it likes the most.
Among other things, it can be taught to go to the table to eat with the rest of the family or with the guests, even to do some small trick to get the attention in the house. Under no circumstances you should take it by force, since this makes it lose confidence. If the agapornis starts to fly over the room, you must let it return to the cage on its own.
All you have to know about breeding lovebirds
Although it’s normal for agapornis to make their own nests, you can buy an artificial one for them to live in. The best options are those made of wood. These nests must be large, as they spend between four and six eggs at each laying.
You don’t have to be afraid if you notice that the female lovebird becomes more aggressive, because when they are in heat, it’s quite normal. She will want to be in the nest and the male is responsible for feeding her by regurgitating the food in her beak. That’s a way to show the love they have to each other. We don’t recommend forcing females into breeding, it will happen when she’s naturally ready.
Since the female is so weak during the breeding season, it’s necessary to provide her food with calcium: a piece of fruit or some vitamins with this mineral in the water.
After mating takes place, the female lovebird will enter the nest and will not come out again. It will lay an egg every other day, and it can reach up to 6 eggs. Once the eggs are is in place, it takes about 24 days of incubation for the brood to hatch and another month and a half for them to be independent enough to have their own place in the cage.
So, if you are part of a lovebird breeders who love this animals, follow these advices. And if you want to learn how to breed lovebirds, these tips will help you a lot.
Final tips for lovebird care
Considering how to take care of your agapornis, do you want some final advice?
- It’s important not to give them candies, as they get fat easily. You have to get them used to the fact that a kiss or a caress can also be a reward.
- During lovebird training it’s important that it does not exceed 20 minutes, so that the bird does not get too tired. If it practices 20 minutes a day, it’ll be happy with you.
- It’s possible that if you try to feed it by the hand, it pecks at you. In this case, don’t move your hand away, as it will understand that its beak is a weapon and could be used to attack.
- When it trusts you enough to letting you touch it, you have to be calm, as it detects you’re nervous and it will be nervous too.
- Never shout at an agapornis, as this generates fear and mistrust.
- A lovebird should spend at least 22 hours in the cage, so it won’t get too used to be outside. It’s good to let it come out, but just to eat out of your hand or to show your friends it’s trained.