By Anne Johnson

Lovebirds are one of the smallest parrots. All nine species are in the genus AGAPORNIS. Native to Africa and surrounding islands many species were imported into the U.S. in large numbers in the past few decades.

The most common is the Peach-Face. Peach Face Lovebirds come in a wide variety of color mutations including Dutch-Blue, Lutino, Pied, Creamino, Cinnamon, and in combinations of the above. Due to the relative ease of breeding in captivity peach-face are quite common in aviaries and in pet stores. Color does not reflect on individual pet quality so choose your bird for its personality.

Of the eight remaining species of lovebirds the Masked are the most readily available of the eye-ring species, so named because of the featherless ring around their eyes. Masked lovebirds can be purchased at costs equal to Peach-Face. Other eye-ring species include the fairly common Fischers (who are on the CITES appendix 1), and the less common Nyasa and Black-Cheeked. In their natural habitat all of the eye-rings are similar in appearance. They all have red beaks and a green body. In captivity other color mutations exist such as the Blue-masked, Yellow-Masked, White-Masked, Yellow Fischers to name a few. Hand-fed Masked and Fischers make excellent pets. They tend to be a little shier than the peach-face, less nippy and also make wonderful companions.

The eye-ring species of lovebirds are not as prolific in captivity as the peach-face. The Nyasa is very rare and breeders have not beeen very successful establishing this species in captivity. Breeders are having better success with the Black-Cheek, yet their numbers in captivity remain relatively small.

Other very rare species of Lovebirds are the Madagascar, Red-Faced, and Abyssinian. Habitat destruction and illegal poaching are major causes of species endangerment in the wild. Hopefully, breeders will become successful establishing these and other rare species of birds before their numbers in the wild decrease to extinction.

Birds who were hand-fed make excellent pets. Parent raised lovebirds can be difficult to tame. When considering the purchase of a lovebird you should take into account the fact that they are full of energy, and can be quite noisy with their endless chattering and shrill scream (though not anywhere near as loud as the larger parrots).

Lovebirds are extremely playful and a joy to watch with their boundless energy. They will swing from toy to toy, hop from perch to perch, never seeming to tire. There is nothing more comical than watching a lovebird do the “birdie splits”, or playing in their water dish, or rolling around on the bottom of the cage with a ball. Affectionate and intelligent, lovebirds can be taught to give kisses, step-up, wave a foot, and many other tricks. They enjoy sitting on your shoulder and playing in your hair.

As with most hookbills, lovebirds also have the ability to learn to whistle and talk. They can speak with clarity and will respond to your voice with eager enthusiasm. But beware, Peach-Face Lovebirds can become nippy if they are not raised with consistency and gentle guidance. Fearless by nature, lovebirds will stand up to other pets in the house, so please keep them apart. I have a lovebird who ATTACKED my Blue and Gold Macaw.

By purchasing a young bird you can set the guidelines for appropriate behavior using positive and negative reinforcement. They cost around $50.00 to $75.00 with the rarer color mutations costing more. Don’t let their diminutive size fool you. You get all of the big bird personality in a tiny parrot.

As with all parrots, lovebirds who receive proper care can live many years with their human companions. This must be taken into consideration when purchasing a bird with the average life span of over 10 years. Long term commitment is required. Lovebirds are popular first time pet birds. They do require a daily portion of fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to seed and /or pellets for a balanced diet. Lovebirds will attack spray millet with gusto while ignoring other more nutritious foods, so only offer it as a treat.

Lovebirds need a large clean cage, at least 24 inches wide, that will allow for a lot of activity for these little energetic birds. Purchase the largest cage that your budget and space will allow. Safety is of the utmost importance when purchasing a cage. Think of how much time your bird will be spending in his cage. The cage bar spacing should be every 1/2 inch. Bar spacing, or any other gaps that are too close together can catch toes and beaks causing injuries. Likewise, with spacing that is too far apart. Scroll work is attractive but can pose a safety hazard. Be sure to check for sharp edges and doors that are not easily opened, to prevent accidental escapes.

The addition of several toys will not only help keep these active guys busy but help keep beaks in good condition. Lovebirds' beaks are made of keratin which grows continuously, just like human finger nails. Chewing and destroying wood toys and perches helps keep beaks trim. Natural perches of varying thicknesses 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. A daily cage cleaning is a must for a healthy bird. Take proper care of your lovebird and you will be rewarded with many years of companionship.

One of the biggest misconceptions about lovebirds is that you must purchase them in pairs. Lovebirds were given their name because two birds will bond closely together and ignore everyone else. A single lovebird will form a close bond with its owner. However, single lovebirds require attention on a regular basis. Lovebirds may become aggressive if allowed to go extended periods without attention.

Purchase your lovebird from a breeder who plays with the babies on a regular basis, has a clean facility, feeds a nutritious diet, has an Avian certified veterinarian, and who will give you a written health guarantee.

Lovebirds are not the type of pet that can be acquired and then ignored. If you want your pet to become and remain affectionate, you will have to put some effort into the relationship. You won't be disappointed.

On the other hand, if you are charmed by lovebirds but don't have enough time to devote to one as its sole companion, consider getting a pair and delight in the antics of lovebirds being lovebirds!


Lovebird owners and breeders... tell us about your birds. E-mail rustyh@petstation.com

Return to Bird Barn Library

Return to Bird Barn Main Menu