|A feral Rosy-faced Lovebird eating seeds in Chicago, USA|
Nine - see text
A Lovebird is one of nine species of the genus Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape 'love'; όρνις ornis 'bird'). They are a social and affectionate small parrot. Eight species are native to the African continent, while the Grey-headed Lovebird is native to Madagascar. Their name stems from the parrots' strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods in which paired birds will spend sitting together.
Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat fruit, vegetables, grasses and seed. Black-winged Lovebirds also eat insects and figs, and the Black-collared Lovebirds have a special dietary requirement for native figs, making them problematic to keep in captivity.
Some species are kept as pets, and several color mutations were selectively bred in aviculture. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Lovebirds are 13 to 17 centimeters in length and from 40 to 60 grams in weight. They are among the smallest parrots, characterized by a stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large, sharp beak. Wildtype lovebirds are mostly green with a variety of colors on their upper body, depending on the species. The Fischer's Lovebird, Black-cheeked Lovebird, and the Masked Lovebird have a prominent white ring around their eyes. The Abyssinian Lovebird, the Madagascar Lovebird, and the Red-faced Lovebird are sexually dimorphic. Many colour mutant varieties have been produced by selective breeding of the species that are popular in aviculture.
The lovebird genus comprises nine species of which five are monotypic and four are divided into subspecies. Eight of them are native in the mainland of Africa and the Madagascar Lovebird is native to Madagascar. In the wild the different species are separated geographically.
Traditionally, lovebirds are divided in 3 groups:
However, this division is not fully supported by phylogenetic studies, as the species of the dimorphic group are not grouped together in a single clade.
Species and subspecies:
|Common and binomial names||Photograph||Description||Range|
or Masked Lovebird
||14 cm (5.5 in) long. Mostly green, black head, yellow upper chest continuous with yellow collar, red beak, white eyerings||Northeast Tanzania; introduced to Burundi and Kenya|
||14 cm (5.5 in) long. Mostly green, orange upper body and head, blue lower back and rump, red beak, white eyerings||South and southeast of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania|
or Nyasa Lovebird
||13 cm (5 in) long. Mostly green including green back and green rump, orange head, red beak, white eyerings||Malawi|
||14 cm (5.5 in) long. Mostly green, brownish-black cheeks and throat, reddish-brown forehead and forecrown, orange upper chest, red beak, white eyerings||Zambia|
or Peach-faced Lovebird
||15 cm (6 in) long. Mostly green, orange face, blue lower back and rump, horn-coloured beak||Namibia, South Africa, Angola|
or Abyssinian Lovebird
||16.5 cm (6.5 in) long. Mostly green, red beak, some black wing feathers. Sexual dimorphism: only the male has red on forehead and crown, females plumage is all green||southern Eritrea to southwestern Ethiopia|
or Red-faced Lovebird
||15 cm (6 in) long. Mostly green with red on upper neck and face. Sexual dimorphism: the male has more extensive and a darker red on face and head, and the male has a darker red beak than the female||Large part of central Africa|
or Madagascar Lovebird
||13 cm (5 in) long. Mostly green with darker green on back, pale grey beak. Sexual dimorphism: male has a grey upper body, neck and head.||Madagascar|
or Swindern's Lovebird
||13.5 cm (5 in) long. Mostly green, brown collar which has a black upper margin at the back of the neck, dark grey/black beak||Equatorial Africa|
Feral populations of Fischer's Lovebirds and Masked Lovebirds live in cities of East Africa. Also present there are intergeneric hybrids between these two species. The hybrid has reddish-brown on head and has orange on upper chest, but otherwise resemble the Masked Lovebird. Feral population also exists in the U.S. many seen in Mesa,Az as of 03/01/10
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With their inclination to bond, they can form long-term relationships with people in tandem with their intra-species companions. Aggression is easily aroused in lovebirds, however, and biting may occur unless a bond is established with gentle handling. Provided with adequate space, a stimulating environment, and appropriate nutrition, a lovebird can become a cherished companion parrot. They love to snuggle and often preen their favorite people.
It is preferable to obtain birds bred in captivity, rather than birds caught from the wild. Wild birds may be harboring a disease, such as avian polyomavirus. Captured wild lovebirds also may mourn the loss of association with a mate or a flock. Their age is likely to be unknown, and they may have an unsuitable personality for domestication. Lovebirds are best kept in pairs, as their name suggests, although relationships with humans are then less likely to be as intense, whereas birds kept individually or brought up hand-fed, make very good pets. However, single birds require frequent attention to stay happy, and if the owner has limited time to spend daily with a single lovebird, it is preferable to grant the lovebird a companion of the same species, or a companion of another parrot species known to get along well with lovebirds. Lovebirds can become very interactive with humans, and when comfortable, will willingly perch on a finger or shoulders.
Some Lovebirds talk, but many will not: there is a chance they may learn to mimic human sounds if taught to do so at a young age. Lovebirds are noisy, with calls ranging from cheerily pleasant to highly irritating; in the wild, parrots must call to each other over long distances to keep flocks together, and it is through such signals that most of their communication is made. It's best to spend frequent, short periods of time with your lovebird, rather than having just one or two interactions every day.
Determining Lovebird sex is difficult. At maturity of one year, it may show signs of whether it is male or female, such as ripping up paper and stuffing it into its feathers (female behavior) or regurgitating for its owners (male behavior: the male feeds the nesting female). This behavior is a not a reliable indicator. The only sure method is DNA testing. Companies exist that provide such service.
Depending on the species of lovebird, the female will carry nesting material into the nest in various ways. Peach-face Lovebirds for example, tuck nesting material in their tail feathers while Green Masked Lovebirds carry nesting material back with their beaks. Once the lovebirds start constructing their nest, mating will follow. During this time, the lovebirds will mate repeatedly. Eggs follow 3–5 days later. The female will spend hours inside her nesting box before eggs are laid. Once the first egg is laid, a new egg will follow every other day until the clutch is complete, typically at four to six eggs. Without a nest, lovebirds will not produce eggs.
Lovebirds require an appropriately sized cage or aviary. Recommended space per bird is min 1m×1m×1m. Lovebird's beaks are made of keratin, which grows continuously. Chewing and destroying wood toys and perches helps to keep beaks trim. Cuttlebones help provide beak-trimming. Natural perches and special rough surfaced perches of varying diameters 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. They also require plenty of toys, such as willow branches, swings, tunnels, boxes and safe things to chew on and play with.
Lack of toys, keeping the birdcage covered too many hours, and lack of companionship or social stimulation may lead to boredom, stress and psychological or behavioral problems (nervousness, aggression, feather-plucking, screaming, depression, immuno-suppression). Lovebirds are extremely social birds and will enjoy several hours of interaction a day. Without this interaction, daily exercise, a roomy cage/aviary, and many toys to play with, they may resort to feather-plucking, or screaming, and both behaviors can be difficult to cure. It is suggested that if you must leave the house (to go to work for the day, for example) that you leave a radio or TV set playing, to provide sound.. Lovebirds are intelligent, and if a relationship is to form they need a human who will dedicate lots of time with them. Lovebirds enjoy baths and like to sun themselves daily.
As with pet parrots in general, the tips of lovebirds' toenails should wear down adequately by the parrot climbing over rough surfaced perches, if the parrot is active; however, occasionally the toe nails grow long and may need to be trimmed. Only the very tips of the toe nails are trimmed, because, if too much of a toe nail is trimmed away, it will be painful and bleed from the blood vessels in the centre of the nail. Sharp pointed toe nails that scratch the owner can be blunted by simply filing the point. These procedures are usually done with the help of an assistant carefully holding the parrot wrapped in a towel.
Adding these foods provides additional nutrients and can prevent obesity and lipomas, as can substituting millet, which is relatively low in fat, for higher-fat seed mixes. Adult Lovebirds often do not always adapt readily to dietary additions, so care must be taken to introduce healthy diets as young as possible (ideally weaned onto fresh foods before introducing chicks onto seeds). Lovebirds like any other Parrots learn mainly by mimicry and thus most adult Lovebirds will be easily encouraged to try new foods by observing another bird eating the food, or by placing the new food on a mirror.
Parrot species (including Cockatiels) are biologically vegetarian species. Consequently, they should be fed vegetarian diets that are ideally supplemented with vegetable proteins provided by the combination of any type of whole Grain/Cereal with any type of Legume/Pulse. Eggs (hard-boiled and/or scrambled) are the only one appropriately healthy source of animal proteins. Mostly for Birds in either breeding, growing, moulting and/or recovering conditions. High levels of Proteins (most particularly Animal Proteins) is unhealthy for Lovebirds living under any alternate conditions (i.e. non-breeding, pets...)
Intermediate species such as African Grey Parrots, LoveBirds, Poicephalus, RingNecked Parakeets... should be offered diets where pellets represent a moderate portion of about 1/3 to 1/2 of their daily diets.
In terms of health, if you want to be a pet owner, the least you can do is ensure the animal has plenty of exercise and freedom. If one does not have the space, one should not take these animals on.
Because of their dominant nature, Lovebirds should be supervised when socializing with other species/genera (whether it be cat, dog, small mammal or other bird species). Lovebirds can be aggressive to other birds. Hand raised Lovebirds tend not to be scared and pose even more of a threat to themselves. Toe biting can occur when Lovebirds are socializing/housed with small birds (i.e. Parrotlets, Budgies, and even docile Cockatiels). They should not be housed with other bird genera as they can be injured or pose a threat to other birds.
Lovebirds are very vocal birds, making loud, high-pitched noises. Some make noise all day, especially during the first morning hours.
Lovebirds are also very active and love to chew things. When they are flying within a household, it is wise to watch them carefully and protect any furniture, electrical wiring or anything else that they could possibly chew on. Try to place fresh willow or oak branches in a favorite spot (e.g. near a high/sunny platform) to satisfy this natural behavior.
Lovebirds of different species can mate and produce sterile hybrid offspring. These offspring display habits of both parents. It is recommended to only place birds of the same species together, or of the same sex for this reason.
Songs about lovebirds include:
The animated television series 3rd and bird features several characters described as lovebirds.