Lovebirds are adorable, come in many colors and varieties and are the subject of poetry and songs. They are the sweetest little feathered friends you could ask for, but before you run off and buy one you have to know the following and get some gear ready to go.
What to know before you get a Lovebird
Before you purchase your Lovebird here are some things you should know about your feathered pal. Not all type of Lovebirds is it possible to distinguish sex based on appearance. This means if you want to know the sex of your bird you may have to pay for a DNA test. Around here it will set you back $40. Sizes range from 4″, as in the Fischer’s, to 7″, as in the Peachfaced. Weights generally range from 50-60 grams and females tend to be larger than the males, and for the most part, more aggressive as well. Do not worry about biting in the beginning as this is a sign of fear and there are easy ways to train your new Lovebird not to bite and to trust you. However, if you want to make the process easier I suggest going to multiple places and holding Lovebirds until you find one that doesn’t shake much or at all and doesn’t bite you. Usually younger birds will be your best bet. Personally, I went to several places and handled over 10 birds until I found one that was very calm with me and did not bite. I purchased mine at the Aviary Nursery in Cauley Square. Again, if you’re set on a specific color patter, etc. but the bird you find bites and is scared, it just takes some patience and proper training to fix that.
Lovebirds usually live from 10-15 years. Lovebirds can live to be anywhere from 15 to 20 years allthough some may live to be 30 years old. Please make sure you can invest the time, money, and patience it requires to care for a Lovebird before you purchase. You will also need to do frequent wing and nail clippings. For a Lovebird that is around $5.
Contrary to popular belief it is a myth that Lovebirds need to be kept in pairs! However, they do need to have a strong bond with someone, so if you only purchase one bird make sure that strong bond is formed with you. That’s the nice part of buying only one bird, it will be more likely to bond strongly with you and more inclined to learn to speak a few words and do tricks. This does mean daily handling of your bird and spending time with them.
If you work all day, I would advise against a Lovebird as they need daily contact and sleep from sunset to sunrise. If you get home after dark it will be hard to spend enough time with your bird. Please consider this and make sure you have plenty of daytime time to spend with your Lovebird. When not home try leaving a radio on for your Lovebird to feel less longly and perhaps learn a few new sounds and words.
Cages for your Lovebird
Sleep is very important and as a basic rule cover their cage and let them sleep from sunset to sunrise in a quiet place. I have a cage on wheels so I may easily move the cage from the living room to a quiet dark bedroom to not disturb the bird while trying to sleep. A good size cage for a single lovebird is 18X18 and at least 24X24 or more for a pair. The bigger, the better! Here are some of my favorite cages:
My FAVORITE Cage for single lovebird is this one (in Sage Green)! It comes in so many fun colors too! I have it in white. My lovebird is crazy happy about it and loves having the perch above the cage to get a view from up high of her surroundings.
Another option is a portable perch, so your bird can hangout with you at your desk or on your coffee table as you watch tv. Here is a nice one or:
Remember that before you put your lovebird into a cage to remove the wood perches that come with the cage. They are very bad for lovebirds!!! Replace them with a few natural perches. Be prepared to replaces these natural perches often as the bird will ware them out over time.
Some branch perches:
Here, Here, and Here. Be sure they also have at least one pumice perch to file down their claws and beak like this one.
Be sure to always have at least 4 toys for your bird in their cage. You’ll need to rotate these toys weekly or at least monthly to keep them from getting bored. They will need a shredding toy, rope toys, swing, shinny or mirror toy, etc. Only give toys specific to birds as many materials contain toxins such as toilet paper rolls, newspapers, etc. Be safe and only use toys specific to birds. The adhesives used in many materials are toxic.
Here are some good toys for your Lovebird:
Shredding Toys: 1 | 2 | 3
Hanging, Swinging and Activity Toys: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Crinkle Toys: 1 | 2 | 3
Mirror Toys: 1 | 2 | 3
Hide Out Toys: 1 | 2 | 3
Warnings for Lovebirds
Keep their cage away from air vents and heaters! Be sure to keep them away from the kitchen as cooking fumes, smoke, and especially using Teflon pans may injure or kill them. If you must cook with Teflon pan, first note there are other safer options like this, this, or this. But if you still use it do so with the windows open and move your bird to another room for a few hours after you are done cooking. Be sure to not leave the pan for a second as to never let whatever you are cooking over heat or burn. An over heated pan (or burning of anything) is the most dangerous for your bird.
Avocado is reported to be potentially toxic.
Foods to feed your Lovebird
ZuPeem FruitBlend Premium Daily Bird Food – daily except Tuesdays/Thursdays
Seed mix for Lovebirds – Tuesdays/Thursdays
Daily you’ll also want to add some of the following healthy foods (without seasonings or oils, etc.), organic is recommend due to toxins used in non organic food pesticides. Be sure not to use the same foods too often and vary their diet daily for optimum health. Keep trying foods they won’t eat, give them a chance to get a taste for them. Go with veggies daily, and add some fruits every now and then.
– scrambled Eggs
– silver beets
– red and green bell peppers
– dandelion flowers
– corn on the cob or corn kernels (non GMO)
– chick weed
– mung beans
– snow peas
– cherries (not the pit)
– bok choy
– beans (cooked)
– cooked brown rice
– romaine lettuce
– sprouted seeds
– brussel sprouts
– carrot tops
Additional proteins can be offered such as nuts. Try some unshelled peanuts as well as hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and chestnuts. Lovebirds drink a lot of water, so will need fresh drinking water every day.
Getting your lovebird used to you after bringing it home
The following tips from from The Parrot Whisperer.
Taming your lovebird may not be difficult, but expect it to take a lot of time. Taming your lovebird is a huge commitment both during and after the taming process. Once tame, your lovebird will require your attention daily. These are very demanding birds. So again if you do not have the time to devote to your bird I suggest getting a pair and just having them for viewing enjoyment. A tamed lovebird will develop psychological problems if you fail to meet its emotional demands. They are monogamous, which means they mate for life. They will need to interact with you as must as possible.
To begin taming, let your lovebird get used to it’s new home. A nervous bird needs time to adjust and understand its surroundings. Let the bird locate its food and water dishes, reduce anxiety, and feel secure and confident about this new environment. This usually takes around two weeks. A good sign the lovebird is feeling comfortable is how it acts. A nervous and unsure bird will sit still on its perch. Before the taming process can begin it is important your bird feels secure about its environment. This means the bird will not flutter or show signs of intimidation while you are in its room (It will go about its business while you are present).
Placing the budgie in a busy room is ideal to start the taming process. Many times they are placed in quiet rooms upon their arrival, but if you look at the bigger picture this technique is counterproductive. A bird that has been separated will have to readjust to humans and this causes excessive stress. A busy room will help speed the taming process and will help the bird understand that humans are not predators. In a sense, you are conditioning your new bird for human interaction.
Once the bird has learned to accept your presence and it is active around you, you may start to gently open the cage door and place your hand inside the cage. This needs to be done consistently and regularly throughout the day until the bird can handle your hand inside the cage. During this processes of taming, avoid eye contact and sudden movements. They may flutter around the cage but do not react! This exercise needs to be done until the bird shows no fear of your hand. It can take weeks or days. Just be consistent and practice doing this often throughout the day.
Once the parakeet can confidently deal with the presence of your hand inside its cage, gently take your finger and try to make the bird step up on your finger. Most lovebird will jump and cling to the cage bars. Try to position your finger below the breast line and gently push up. It is important you not jerk your hand back during this stage. If you have a fear of getting bitten, then use a dowel. The bird needs to step up on your finger and needs to remain there for a while. Do not try to get remove the bird once this is finally achieved. Just let it remain on your finger or dowel as long as possible before it returns to another perch. Again, this needs to be practiced until the bird can do this without hesitation.
Once it it used to stepping up on a dowel, using the dowel more your finger to nearly the end of the dowel. Leave only an inch or two for the bird to step on to. Once the bird achieves this, remove the dowel and use your finger alone. This takes a lot of time and patience.
If your bird is stepping up on your finger inside its cage, then slowly try to coax him outside the cage while he is on your finger. Do not be surprised if the bird decides to quickly head for a perch or the cage bars. Just continue trying to coax him outside the cage. Once out, you can take the bird into a room that is not familiar, such as a small bathroom, While in this unfamiliar room, try giving your bird a treat. You might try step ups or just gently holding him on your finger while you recite nursery rhymes. During this process keep your voice soothing and mellow.
For more great video with tips on taming, training and all things birds…check out this YouTube page for the Parrot Whisperer.
Good luck with your new lovebird buddy! Get to the comments and let me know if you found these tips helpful. Here’s some pix of my new lovebird, Fifi!