What to Know About Lovebirds

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on January 04, 2023
4 min read

Lovebirds are a popular type of parrot. They are beautiful and intelligent, and as pets, they make good companions. As their name suggests, they form loving bonds with their monogamous mate. When lovebirds bond, they spend time feeding each other and snuggling up at night. 

If you're considering a parrot but are concerned you're unable to handle a larger pet, consider a lovebird. Read on to discover more about this petite, distinctively plumed African parrot. 

These tiny parrots are native to sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Fossils of ancient species dating back almost 2 million years have been found in parts of South Africa. They enjoy hanging out near vegetation by standing water, cultivated fields, or dry woodland areas. Most lovebirds make nests in shrubs or trees, though some prefer to build their nest differently and away from the flock. 

In the mid-1990s, this commonly caged bird was accidentally released and expanded its population in Arizona. Areas in the American Southwest and San Francisco are home to feral populations of lovebirds that once belonged to an aviary. 

In urban settings, lovebirds search for areas with food and water and may rely on a tree or a crevice in a building to build their nest.

Once they've reached maturity, lovebirds are between 5 and 7 inches, measured from their beak to the end of their tail feathers. Because of their size, they are easy to house and a popular option for anyone who lives in an apartment or other small space. 

Although there are different species of lovebirds, they all belong to the Agapornis genus. Because lovebirds are parrots, they are categorized in the Psittaciformes order. 

Nine species of lovebird exist:

  • The masked or yellow-collared lovebirds, notable for their prominent white eye rings
  • The black-cheeked  
  • The Nyasa or Liliana
  • The peach-faced or rosy-faced 
  • The Fischer's
  • The Abyssinian or black-winged 
  • The Swindern  
  • The red-headed or red-faced 
  • The Madagascar or grey-headed 

Only three of the nine species are considered good to keep as pets. The most popular type of lovebirds to have as pets are peach-faced lovebirds. These birds have a mix of yellow, green, and blue feathers and are known for their bright pink faces. Black-cheeked, Fischer's, and Nyasa lovebirds are the only species that have endangerment concerns.

Another species of lovebird that makes a good pet is the Fischer's lovebird, which is known for having a charming temperament. Some species of lovebirds are often produced by selective breeding, which is done to bring out certain traits and differences in their looks.

Lovebirds mainly feed on grass seeds, vegetables, and fruits. For these pets, good nutrition starts with a balanced diet that includes the right vitamins and minerals. Feeding them an adequate amount of water, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber is crucial, and having them stick to a seed-only diet could result in them becoming malnourished. 

Certain table foods are healthy to feed your lovebird, but you must ensure they are free of any sauces or seasoning. Consult with a veterinarian if concerns arise about what you should and should not offer your lovebird.

Several factors affect the lifespan of lovebirds in the wild, such as shortages of food or water, unusual weather patterns, and predators. For lovebirds in the wild, the average life expectancy is anywhere from five to 15 years. With proper care, lovebirds in captivity can live between 10 and 20 years.

Although these creatures may be small, they are bold and chatty. Lovebirds mimic speech and sound and often chatter and chirp at one another. In flocks, they sing and whistle throughout the day. 

They are very active and require exercise to stay in good physical condition. Providing your bird with a safe place to play outside its cage is essential, as these intelligent animals require mental stimulation.

When it's time to hit the hay, lovebirds hang onto the side of their cages. Contrary to popular belief, lovebirds don't need to come in pairs, but if you buy a single lovebird, be sure to provide it with plenty of social interaction and activities, like playtime with toys. 

Lovebirds develop unique coping mechanisms after long periods of separation or stressful moments, like feeding one another to re-establish their connection. When a lovebird's mate dies, it may develop behavior that mimics depression or become erratic.

Lovebirds are a great option for a beginner, as long as you're willing to devote ample time and attention to your bird. These birds are friendly, affectionate, and highly intelligent. 

Showering your lovebird with attention and affection is the best way to build a strong relationship with your pet. Move slowly and speak softly to your young lovebird to help it grow comfortable with you. Motivate your lovebird with affection. 

You can even train a lovebird to go to the bathroom when and where you want it to go. Before taking it out of the cage and allowing it to explore, train it to go potty on command by reinforcing this positive behavior with treats or affection. 

Caring for your lovebird is important, and while it may not require the largest cage, give it the freedom to roam and exercise. Keeping your lovebird cooped up could lead to neurotic habits like self-mutilation. Buying toys for your small parrot is a great way to keep them active. 

Your lovebird may benefit from a relaxing bedtime routine, and covering the cage with a blanket can help calm your bird.