By Dr. Becker
No animal represents the model of Valentine's Day better than the lovebird, a popular pet and favorite of bird enthusiasts.
A Geoffrey Chaucer poem, "Parliament of Foules," features two birds and is thought to be the first evidence of a link between the religious celebration of Saint Valentine's day and romantic love.
Lovebirds mate for life and are known to be bold, curious, active little companions. If you're thinking of adding a lovebird to your family, be sure to check your local shelters and rescue organizations for adoptable birds.
10 Fascinating Facts About Lovebirds
Lovebirds May Have Inspired Valentine's Day
A poem by Geoffrey Chaucer called "Parliament of Foules" features two birds that exhibit behaviors reminiscent of human love. The Chaucer poem is thought to be the first evidence of a connection between the religious celebration of Saint Valentine's day and romantic love.
There Are 9 Species of Lovebirds
Lovebirds belong to the genus Agapornis, and there are nine species. Four species have prominent white eye rings, including the masked lovebird, Fischer's lovebird, the black-cheeked lovebird, and the Nyasa lovebird.
The remaining five species have no eye ring, and include the peach-faced, black-winged or Abyssinian, the red-headed or red-faced, the Madagascar or grey-headed, and the black-collared or Swindern's lovebird.
The species kept most often as pets are the masked, Fischer's, and peach-faced lovebirds.
Most Lovebird Species Are Native to Africa
An exception is the grey-headed (Madagascar) lovebird, which is native to the island of Madagascar.
The most common lovebird in the U.S. is the peach-faced lovebird, followed by the black-masked lovebird. There are many feral populations of lovebirds in the U.S., especially in California, Arizona, and Florida.
Wild lovebirds live in small flocks. Their diet consists of grasses including seeds, fruits and vegetables. The black-winged or Abyssinian lovebird also eats native figs.
The Lovebird Is a Small, Stout Version of a Parrot
Lovebirds have stocky bodies, short tails, and large hooked upper beaks. Wild birds are usually green with various colors on their upper bodies, depending on the species.
Lovebirds average 5 to 7.5 inches in length and 1.5 to 2.5 ounces, making them among the smallest parrots in the world. The peach-faced lovebird is the largest species. The Abyssinian can be slightly longer in body than the peach-faced, but is slender and weighs less.
Male and Female Lovebirds Are Hard to Tell Apart
This is true for most species of lovebirds, and although the color of some males may appear more vibrant than their colorful female counterparts, the only way to determine the sex for certain is through DNA or surgical sexing.
However, once lovebirds reach about 1 year of age, there can be behavioral clues. For example, females tend to shred paper and stuff the paper strips into their feathers. Males may regurgitate in the presence of their owners, which is how they feed a nesting female, however, my female lovebird also exhibited this behavior.
Lovebirds Are Confident and Always on the Go
Lovebirds are naturally curious, active, bold little creatures. As a single, your lovebird will need plenty of interaction with you and other family members. He'll also need lots of toys and other safe items to chew on and keep busy with. If you have a pair of lovebirds, you should know they can form such a close bond that they become completely focused on each other to the exclusion of the humans in the household.
Lovebirds Are Vocal
Lovebirds tend to spend their days whistling and singing, and are especially vocal at dawn and dusk. They aren't the talkers other parrot species are, but most people find the song of the lovebird easy on the ears.
Keep in mind that the more lovebirds in the flock, the noisier they become!
Lovebirds Mate for Life
Lovebirds reach sexual maturity at around 10 months and are monogamous, which is crucial to the social stability of flocks. If one of a pair of lovebirds dies or becomes separated from the flock, the mate left behind exhibits behavior that is similar to human depression.
Pet lovebirds without mates have also been known to exhibit similar erratic behavior.
Lovebirds Are Cavity Dwellers
In the wild, lovebirds make their home in holes in trees, rocks, or shrubs. In Phoenix, Arizona, peach-faced lovebirds are often found nesting in cacti. Some species nest as a group; others nest with a mate away from the flock.
Lovebirds Can Be Aggressive
As lovey-dovey as these little birds can be with their mates, they can be mean to outsiders. Lovebirds are quite territorial and don't get along with birds of other species, or other household pets. Among lovebirds, jealousy and hormonal behavior is common during mating season.
Generally speaking, interactions between lovebirds and other pets (including dogs and cats) should be supervised, and lovebirds should not be kept with smaller birds. It's safest to house them only with their own species.
Check your local avian rescue organization first if you are interested in adopting one or two of these lively little fellows.