Lovebirds - General Information

By Laurie Hess, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

The peach-faced lovebird (Agapornis roseicollis) is the largest and most commonly kept of the nine species of lovebirds. Other species of lovebirds that are commonly kept as pets are the black-masked lovebird, blue-masked lovebird, and Fischer's lovebird.

This small, colorful, short-tailed parrot originates from Africa. Lovebirds are incredibly inquisitive, playful, and possess a delightful, spirited sassiness. They are, in general, poor talkers but commonly full of delightful chatter. They love to hide under paper, on shoulders under long hair, or even in pockets. Although not generally very destructive, they do enjoy chewing. Providing pieces of paper, soft wood, and bird-safe toys affords many hours of entertainment for these curious little birds.

"Despite the name lovebird, when they feel frightened or threatened, these animals can be very territorial and aggressive in a colony situation or with other bird species."

During breeding, like their wild counterparts, pet lovebirds will take strips of chewed paper or other materials, tuck them under their wing and tail feathers, and then carry them to certain areas to build a nest. This repetitive behavior is often seen in lone female birds. Young, single lovebirds bond closely with their owners and can be a wonderful, affectionate, and interactive family pet. A pair of lovebirds often bonds more strongly to each other, even if they are the same sex, than they do to their owners. Most lovebird pairs can be housed together successfully and may attempt to build nests. Despite the name lovebird, when they feel frightened or threatened, these animals can be very territorial and aggressive in a colony situation or with other bird species.

Obtaining a Lovebird

Lovebirds may be purchased from pet stores or reputable breeders or adopted from rescue organizations. Young birds may be easier to tame and train than older, wild-caught, or colony- or parent-raised birds. Hand-raised babies often are more affectionate pets since they have been socialized with humans. Young birds typically adapt more readily to new environments and situations. New birds should be exposed early to different events (different people, other pets, car trips, visits to the veterinarian, etc.) to help them become calmer, more well-adjusted pets. Healthy birds are more likely to be lively, alert, and not easily stressed. After bringing your new bird home, you should have it examined by a veterinarian familiar with birds to help ensure that it is healthy.

Veterinary Care

Like all other pet birds, lovebirds require annual, routine veterinary health check-ups. Your veterinarian can perform a physical examination, grooming (including nail or wing trims, as necessary), and laboratory tests, as needed. During these annual health check-ups, your veterinarian can address nutritional and care issues. Veterinary check-ups help prevent disease and aid in the maintenance of a long-lasting, healthy relationship between you and your bird.

Characteristics and Housing

Depends on the species; predominantly green with orange, yellow, blue, black, white or gray markings, usually more dominant on the head, neck, and rump.

Similar to the adult.

Sexing: No obvious external differences between males and female. Females typically weigh slightly more than males. Blood testing is generally used to differentiate males and females.

Weight: Average (depending on species) 1.5-2 ounces (40-60 grams).

Size: Average (depending on species) 5-6.5 inches (13-16.5 cm) in length.

Lifespan: Average 6-12 years (maximum 14 years).

Breeding: sexual maturity is 8-12 months. Prolific breeders in captivity.

Brood size: 3-7 white eggs hatch in 18-24 days; young leave the nest in 5-6 weeks.

Cage size: Minimum 2 wide ft x 2 ft tall x 3 ft long (60 cm x 60 cm x 90 cm).

Related Articles