Friday, February 9, 2007
There are LOTS of different kinds of lovebirds. I don't have much experience with lovebirds personally. But, I'll do my best to cover all the general information about lovebirds. I get to learn about them right along with you!
There seems to be some kind of 'old wives tale' or something that lovebirds must be kept in pairs. That's just simply not true. They do just fine on their own.
As any of you have a pair of Love Birds know, they groom and preen each other constantly, and sit and sleep as close together as possible. These endearing antics got them their name. Their scientific name Agapornis comes from the Greek Agapa meaning 'love' and ornis meaning 'bird'
Love birds -
Both in the wild and in captivity these little birds are very intelligent. acrobatic. and of course, affectionate. They make excellent pets and can and do bond very well with humans. Give them lots of different kinds of small bird toys to play with but change them weekly so they don't become bored.
In the wild, (Africa and Madagascar) large flocks can sometimes be seen foraging in woods and scrublands for crops and green seeded grasses. Where there are still birds near now inhabited farm lands, they have been known to damage crops. Some species nest in tree holes; the female carries nest material tucked into her rump feathers and runs bits of grass or leaf through her bill to soften them. The 4 to 6 eggs are incubated for about 20 days.
Two closely related species of small African parrots, the peach-faced lovebird and Fischer's lovebird, have completely different methods of carrying nesting material. The females of both species prepare nesting material by cutting long, narrow strips of bark, leaves, or paper. The peach-faced lovebird tucks each strip, after she cuts it, into the feathers of the lower back, or rump. When she has accumulated about six strips, she flies to the nest cavity, retrieves the strips, and places them in her nest. Fischer's lovebirds carry each strip in the bill, one at a time, to the nest cavity.
Many breeders belong to the ALBS (African Love Bird Society) and show the birds just as one might show a dog or cat.
Show Standards for the African Love Bird
1. Beak should be neat and well tucked in; head full and round; eyes centered, clear and bright
2. Neck should be full and wide
3. Shoulders should have no appearance of the neckline
4. Breast should be deep, broad, and well rounded, tapering gradually to the tail
5. Back line should not be slack or hollow; almost straight
6. Wings should be held neatly in line with the body; flights must not droop or cross
7. Tail should be held neatly in line with body
8. Legs and feet should be straight and strong, firmly gripping the perch
Give them plenty of exercise and as much time out of their cage to be with you and you as possible and you will have a happy, healthy, long lived little friend.
Commonly kept: Peach-faced, Fischers and Masked lovebirds.
There are nine species and I don't even know how many mutations of each. Some species seem to be more 'hybridized' than others. Mutations and hybrids would be a subject better covered by a breeder.
Commonly kept: A. roseicollis (Peach face); A. fischeri (Fischerâ€™s); A. personata (Masked)
Rare: A. lilianae (Nyasa); A. nigrigenis (Black-Cheeked); A. cana (Madagascar); A. tatanta (Abyssinian); A. pullaria (Redfaced) and A. Swindernia (Black-Collared)
Native continent: Africa
Probable life span: 12 to 18 years
Personality: They may be small, but can be just as outgoing, stubborn, and playful as bigger parrots. They are generally active and really get into chewing. Lovebirds also need lots of exercise.
Habits: In the wild, they tend to hand out in flocks of 20 to 80 birds outside their breeding period. The flocks gather in cultivated areas and forage in millet fields. Groups move around probably migrate seasonally.
When asked what the best diet for a Lovebird is, I believe in species specific diets are best. What this really means that I personally like to try to keep my bird's diet as close to what he would eat in the wild as possible. As with any parrot, variety is the way to go. Remember, in the wild, these little guys are flying around, playing and eating most of the day. They do not sit in one spot and nibble on dry seed mix or little prepared pellets. Give them sprouted seed mixes, raw shredded veggies, fresh, unsprayed flower buds from your garden. A little dry seed mix from time to time is okay, just don't use it or a dry seed mix on a regular basis, make them more like a once a week treat. regular half-ripe grass and millet; plenty of greenfood, vegetables and fruit; sprouted food, softened rusk and eggfood (strictly rationed) for rearing; provide young with regular vitamin C and mineral supplements. Natural diet consists of seeds, berries, fruits and buds.
Housing: Minimum of 18' x 18' by 18' cage for a single bird. Bar spacing should be 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch. A wider cage is better than a taller cage for lovebirds, if you have a choice.
Talking / Noise Level: Medium noisy. Calls can be loud and shrill. Of course, some lovebirds are a whole lot noisier than others. Lovebirds can talk, but very few do, nor do they sing. They do have a variety of peeps, cheeps, chirps, and squeaks. You will soon figure out what many of these sounds mean to your lovebird.
Behavior issues: Lovebirds can be quite territorial of their cage, a toy, another bird or their favorite person.
Sexing: According to the African Lovebird Society, three of the nine species of lovebirds are dimorphic. A species is dimorphic if the cock is visibly different in color from the hen. The following three love bird species are dimorphic, Madagascar, Red-faced, and Abyssinian. For the other species, both male and female both look the same, at least to us humans. Best have a professional determine the sex of your lovebird.
African Lovebird Society http://www.africanlovebirdsociety.com/
The Complete Lexicon of Parrots http://www.arndt-verlag.com/index.html
Birds n Ways http://www.birdsnways.com/articles/lbfaq.htm
Do you have a story about your bird? Please share it with us. Just email me with your story and a picture of bird.
Nick & Dr Jeannie