Lovebirds

Lovebirds are one of the most popular pets in the US, but many people don’t know much about them. If you’re considering getting a lovebird, here are some facts you should know. Lovebirds are small parrots that are native to Africa. There are over 30 species of lovebirds, and about a dozen of them are commonly kept as pets in the United States. 

They are small, typically no more than 2.5 inches long (but many as pets can get up to 6 inches long), with long tails that can be as long as their bodies. They are mostly green with red tails and a red patch on their faces. Their beaks are usually yellow or orange, and they have black or gray bands around their ankles.

Lovebirds are great birds for your family to own. They can make great pets for single people, but are also comfortable with a family. They are beautiful to look at and have a pleasant chirping sound that is less annoying than some other birds. They are not hard to care for, partially because they are small. Note that this is not a suitable pet for young children.

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Information about Lovebirds

  • Average Length: 5 to 7 inches
  • Colors: Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Good Pet: With early socialization and training, yes
  • Safe with Children: With training
  • Good with Other Lovebirds: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes because they aren’t as noisy as other parrots
  • Suitable for First-Time Pet Owners: Yes
  • Training: They require patience and you need to establish trust with your bird first
  • Exercise Needs: Low
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: They tend to have Parrot fever, Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, Candidiasis, and Feather Plucking and Mutilation Disease
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 10 to 12 years
lovebirds

Physical Appearance of Lovebirds

Most Lovebirds have a green plumage with heads having a different color than the rest of the body. The birds also have very short tail feathers. Lovebirds have a hooked beak and four toes. Two of the toes face to the front and the other two faces backwards.

Temperament of Lovebirds

A Lovebird is curious, funny, and playful. Lovebirds are also known to be aggressive and territorial, particularly towards other pets. Experts say that the female Lovebirds become more jealous and territorial compared to male ones. The birds enjoy chattering and squawking. When they want attention, they’ll make loud chirps.

Lovebirds are also very social and often form strong bonds with their paired mates and caregivers. If you’re looking for a cuddly bird, then a Lovebird is the perfect pet. Lovebirds become so attached to their caregivers that they can attack other pets that you show attention to. 

When buying a Lovebird, it’s recommended to buy a baby Lovebird that’s fully weaned and knows how to feed from the hands of its caregiver. Getting a young bird makes it possible to fully train it otherwise the Lovebirds are known to be stubborn and possibly aggressive. Once you take this bird home, spend time with it so it will become used to handling. Set time each day to gently stroke the feathers of your bird so that it becomes used to your attention.

Training Lovebirds

Before trying to train your bird, spend time to create a bond with it so that the Lovebird feels comfortable with you. A sign that your bird enjoys your company is if it feeds from your hand. Training a Lovebird requires patience especially if you are dealing with an older bird.

To calm your Lovebird before training, try to place your hand inside its cage without touching it. To encourage the bird to come to you, you can offer a treat such as a fruit. Lovebirds can learn tricks such as eating from your palm, sitting on your shoulder, or even speaking some words.

Their Compatibility with Children

The funny, entertaining, and curious character of Lovebirds make them ideal pets for kids older than 6 years. Children shouldn’t be given the sole responsibility of taking care of Lovebirds. The birds crave attention especially if kept alone and children may not give them the attention they need. When a Lovebird wants attention they’ll most likely make very loud chirps which may frighten children.

Until you know how your child and the bird will react towards one another, children shouldn’t handle the Lovebird without the supervision of an adult. Some Lovebirds especially those not used to handling can become aggressive and even bite the child.

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lovebirds

Best Habitat for Lovebirds

Lovebirds are very active birds and they require spacious cages to let them move around and not feel cramped. A standard cage for housing a pair of Lovebirds should measure at least 18″ width x 18″ length x 24″ height. The bar spacing should be 3/8 inches wide to prevent your birds from escaping. The bigger the cage, the better because it will give your birds enough space to fly while leaving space for feeding bowls, perches, and toys.

Perches are a necessity for Lovebirds because they help them exercise their feet and to also prevent arthritis. Perches should be of different sizes so that your bird doesn’t hurt their feet standing in one position for a long time. The minimum perch size should be about a ½ inch in diameter.

The bottom of the cage should have a dropping tray for easier cleaning. It’s also recommended to have a metal grate over the dropping tray so that your Lovebird doesn’t come into contact with the droppings. Lining the bottom of the cage with layers of newspapers is also a great way to make cleaning faster and easier.

Habitat Maintenance

Each day at least the top layer of the newspaper substrate should be replaced to avoid growth of mold and fungi.  Clean the feeding bowls every day to keep your birds healthy. Deep cleaning the cage using warm soapy water is recommended once a week. When cleaning the cage, also clean the toys and perches. Once you’re done cleaning, disinfect the cage using an avian disinfectant and let it dry completely before placing your birds back.

Replace torn toys or damaged perches to keep your Lovebird from injuring itself or eating small pieces. It’s also recommended to change the toys in the cage every few days to prevent boredom. The toys shouldn’t have any lead or zinc chemicals because if eaten they are toxic for your bird.

The Attention a Lovebird Needs

Lovebirds require a lot of attention especially if kept alone. If kept as a pair, the birds may keep each other company reducing their need for human interaction. Spending at least two hours with your lovebird will make your bird happy and strengthen your bond. If you have a busy schedule, then Lovebirds aren’t the best pets for you.

Health Issues

Lovebirds and generally all birds rarely show signs of illness. By the time you see any signs, the bird is usually seriously sick. The instinct of not showing signs of sickness is a natural to protect themselves from predators that target sickly birds. Here are some of the signs to alert you that your bird needs to see a vet.

  • Diarrhea
  • Perching with eyes closed for a long time
  • Dull and ruffled feathers
  • Droopy head, tail, and feathers
  • Breathing difficulties

Most diseases that attack Lovebirds are viral. 

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

The disease is viral and is a common illness among Lovebirds. Sadly, the disease doesn’t have a cure and is highly contagious. Avian experts say that vaccines are being developed to control the illness. These are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for.

  • Deformed beak and feathers
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of feathers
  • Loss of appetite

The only way to control the spread of this disease is isolation of sick birds. The disease also weakens the bird such that they become susceptible to other illnesses that may even kill it.

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Feather Plucking and Mutilation Disease

The main cause of this disease is poor diet. When a Lovebird doesn’t eat a well-balanced diet, they tend to become self harming. As a way of relieving their irritation, they pluck their feathers. Going for a long time without bathing your Lovebird could also lead to feather plucking as it tries to self-clean. Generally, this health issue is as a result of poor diet and hygiene. An improvement on feeding and cleaning could help you control this.

Candidiasis

Candidiasis is another common illness among Lovebirds and is caused by a yeast infection that develops in the crop of the bird. A crop is an extension of the oesophagus in birds and is located right above the chest. Birds use the crop to store food before digestion. The infection then spreads from the crop to the rest of the digestive system. A sick bird appears restless and may release loose droppings. It’s impossible to look at a sick bird and diagnose Candidiasis which is why a visit to the nearest avian vet is needed. The illness is treatable with the right medication if detected early.

lovebirds

Parrot Fever or Psittacosis

Parrot Fever is a contagious bacterial disease that spreads through droppings and feather dust from one bird to another. The disease is caused by lack of proper nutrition and poor hygiene within the bird’s cage. A sick bird will show the following signs.

  • The bird withdraws and hides for long periods
  • Diarrhea (greenish in color)
  • Weight loss
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing

Sick birds can also pass the bacteria to human beings leading to Chlamydia in humans. Diagnosis of the disease is often difficult because the bacteria is dormant in birds and may not be detected easily. Because a sick bird will eventually die, most Vets will euthanize the sick birds to prevent the spread.  

If you notice that your bird has any symptoms of Parrot fever, visit a vet promptly. If you’ve housed a sick bird with other Lovebirds, isolate it to protect the rest of your Lovebirds.

Bathing and Cleaning

Lovebirds just like other birds enjoy bathing. Place a bowl of warm water every day in the cage so that your bird can clean itself. If you prefer, you can also mist spray your Lovebird with warm water for a few minutes daily. When cleaning your Lovebird, avoid using soap and other detergents because they can irritate the skin of your bird.

Feeding Lovebirds

Seeds and pellets should make up about 80 percent of the diet for your Lovebird. The seed and pellet diet isn’t sufficient and should be complemented with fruits, vegetables, and occasional treats. Some of the best fruits for a Lovebird are grapes, mangoes, papayas, and oranges. Healthy vegetables for your bird include broccoli, zucchini, kale, carrots, and squash. Fruits and vegetables not eaten within a few hours should be disposed of because they go bad very fast.

It’s also recommended to sprout seeds before feeding the birds but if you prefer, you can feed them dry seeds. Sprouting the seeds makes them more nutritious and easier to digest for your Lovebird. The seeds should be soaked in water for several days and then rinsed before feeding the birds.

Treats such as nuts, small quantities of yogurt, and dried fruits are also healthy for your bird. The treats should be given in moderation because your bird could refuse healthy food so that they feed on the treats. Another method of feeding treats is during training sessions as a reward for good behavior.

It’s important to remember that all food should be chopped into small sizes. Large foods can easily choke your bird or even discourage it from feeding.  When feeding Lovebirds make sure that you clean the fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove any pesticides or chemicals.

Water is also an essential part of a healthy diet for a Lovebird. Make sure that the water is in a clean bowl every day so that your bird can drink at will. The water given to your bird should be chlorine free to prevent digestive problems.

bird seed

Related Questions:

Can Lovebirds eat people food?

Birds enjoy certain cooked foods such as lean meat, cheese, sweet potatoes, eggs, and fish. Junk food such as chocolates and lots of dairy should be avoided if you want to have a healthy bird. Alcoholic drinks and caffeine should also not be fed to a Lovebird.

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