Lovebirds in Brief
Scientific Name: Several species available
Adult Size: 5½ to 6 inches (14 to 15 cm)
Weight: 1¾ to 2½ ounces (50 to 70 g)
Life Span: 12 to 15 years, possibly more
Talking Ability: Poor
The beautiful, friendly, and energetic lovebird is a small parrot who is commonly kept as a pet. Let’s learn a little more about lovebirds to help you decide if this bird is right for you. If you already live with one, I’m sure that you will learn something new.
Generally speaking, lovebirds are short, stocky parrots with short tails. They have large heads and beaks. Their faces (sometimes the whole head) and neck are usually a different, brighter color than the rest of the body. The exact coloration depends on the species. Very young lovebirds have a black band across the top of their bill that fades as they age.
Like all parrots and parakeets, lovebirds are part of the large group (technically known as an order) of birds called Psittaciformes, and parrots are sometimes called psittacines [pronounced SIT a seens]. Parrots are also called hookbills, for their strongly hooked bills that they use for climbing, digging, cracking open seeds, and preening their feathers. The lovebirds are closely related to each other; all belong to the scientific genus Agapornis. Agapornis comes from the Greek words agape (love) and ornis (bird).
In the Wild
Lovebirds are found in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, and some nearby islands. Most species inhabit savannas and dry forests, although some range into rainforests as well. Lovebirds live in flocks that can range from just a few to more than 800 individuals. Larger flocks tend to form around food and water sources during the dry season. They eat a wide range of foods in the wild, including leaves, fruits, nuts, twigs, seeds, and the occasional insect or small animal.
There are nine species of lovebirds, but only three are common as pets. In all three species, it is very difficult to tell males from females, but both sexes make great pets.
Fischer’s lovebird (Agapornis fischeri) has a bright white circle of bare skin around his eye, making him one of the “eye-ring species.” His wings and back are dark green, and his body is a brighter green. His neck is yellow, and the color fades into the bright orange of his face and head. His beak is a bright orangey red. Fischer’s lovebird is a hardy and robust species, and his voice can be piercing.
Like Fischer’s, the masked lovebird (Agapornis personata) is an eye-ring species. As you might guess from his name, the masked lovebird has a black face and head, making him look like he’s wearing a ski mask. His body and wings are green, and his chest and neck are yellow. He is usually a playful and affectionate pet.
The most commonly kept lovebird is the peach-faced (Agapornis roseicollis). His body and wings are green, with some blue feathers in the tail and wing edges. His face and neck are a vibrant peach to pink color. His beak is a pale pinkish tan. Like the other species, the peach-faced lovebird is an energetic but devoted pet.
Lovebirds as Pets
Contrary to popular belief, lovebirds do not need the company of other lovebirds to be happy. A single lovebird will live a full and happy life provided his human companion can spend an hour or more socializing with him daily. If you can’t spend that much time with a lovebird but still want one in your home, your pet will need a cagemate. Single lovebirds tend to bond more deeply to their human companions than those kept with other lovebirds. Most lovebirds are very aggressive to other bird species, so a lovebird may not be the best choice if you already have another bird.
Lovebirds need large, sturdy cages, preferably made of wrought iron or powder-coated steel. Make sure that the bars of the cage are spaced so that your bird cannot stick his head out between them—bar spacing of 3/8 inches (9.5 mm) is recommended. He also needs perches in a variety of sizes and materials to keep his feet healthy. Provide numerous toys to keep him mentally stimulated when you aren’t around; rotate them regularly so that he doesn’t get bored. You will also need to spend more than an hour each day petting, grooming, training, and interacting with your lovebird.
Your pet will need fresh food—a variety of fruits, vegetables, cooked grains and beans, and healthy human food—two times a day. Make pellets available all day, and provide a small amount of seeds and nuts once a day. Fresh, clean water must be available at all times. Like other parrots, lovebirds can be messy eaters, so be prepared to clean the water bowl, cage, and surrounding area regularly.