LovebirdsFischer’s lovebirds, Masked lovebirds, Peach-faced and many mutations of the Peach-faced lovebird are often kept in homes as companion birds. There are additional species that are less frequently seen in collections. These include the Red-faced lovebird, Madagascar lovebird, Abyssinian lovebird, Swindern’s lovebird, Nyasa lovebird, and Black-cheeked lovebird.
Lovebirds may be small but they tend to have big personalities. At times you would think they are as big as a macaw, or at least they think they are. Their short little tails and round heads make them hard to resist. Deep brown eyes also add to their endearing qualities. Because of their popularity in aviculture there is a wide variety of color mutations available. Their colors can be stunning.
Lovebirds are fast moving. This means training a lovebird requires good observational skills and the ability to respond quickly to reinforce desired behavior. Lovebirds can learn to do behaviors larger parrots do such as target, step up, recall, turn in a circle, retrieve, allow restraint in a towel, enter a crate for transport and more. Learn the basics of training from the DVDs Parrot Behavior and Training. An Introduction to Training and The Basics of Parrot Training. A Live Workshop.
Many lovebirds appreciate head scratches. They will also reciprocate by preening the fine hairs on your skin. Some lovebirds enjoy climbing into shirts and snuggling up against the neck of their caregiver.
If you are able to imitate their high pitched chirp, they will often chirp back and forth with you. They usually accompany the chirp with a big head bob.
Interesting Facts and Quirks:
Some lovebird species are known for shredding strips of paper and tucking them under their wings. They shred with precision and each strip is uniform in width with ragged edges. The strips are usually as long as the piece of paper. It is not uncommon for a female lovebird to look like she is wearing a paper skirt after a shredding session. Some lovebirds will take the paper back to a nesting cavity; however others won’t necessarily do anything with the paper after tucking it under the wings. In many cases they simply fly away and the paper strips fall to the ground.
Lovebirds do live up to their name. They often seek the companionship of another bird or human. If this companion is perceived as a mate you might witness a very elaborate courtship dance. Female lovebirds will spread their wings out, lift their tail and spin in a circle as they emit some quiet repetitive sounds.
A Lovebird shows a courtship dispaly.
Potential Behavior Problems:
The obsession to shred paper for some species can at times be problematic. This is because lovebirds will chew whatever is available. If a treasured book is left open, the pages could become the target of a shredding lovebird. You can prevent this by making sure paper that is acceptable for shredding is easily accessed and items you don’t want chewed are safely stored away when your bird is out.
Compared to a larger parrot the high pitched chirp of a lovebird may seem much more tolerable. However some people find the high pitch equally as irritating as a loud macaw scream. This means just as with other parrots it is important to avoid reinforcing vocalizing for attention. Teach your bird other sounds or activities will work to gain your attention. Get a free article on how to address screaming for attention at this link.
Lovebird also tends to form strong bonds with human or other avian companions. These pairings can lead to aggressive behavior towards other individuals, especially if there is an area that is perceived as a nesting cavity. Some caregivers like to provide enclosed areas for sleeping or hiding such as a cloth tent. It is important to observe your parrot’s behavior in those areas to make sure this does not encourage nesting behavior that might lead to aggressive behavior around the enclosure. Lovebirds can show quite intimidating aggressive behavior when defending a nest site or perceived mate. Learn more about addressing aggressive behavior in parrots from the book The Parrot Problem Solver. Finding Solutions to Aggressive Behavior.
Lovebirds also eliminate a bit more frequently than larger birds. Although their poops are small, they are plentiful. You can train your lovebird to eliminate on cue. It is recommended you teach your lovebird it is acceptable to “go” wherever there is newspaper. Using the same spot every time can cause the bird to “hold it” until allowed access to that location. Unfortunately this is how some birds are accidentally trained to avoid pooping in their cages. They learn to hold their poop all day until brought to the location to which they were trained. This is quite unhealthy for a parrot. Avoid this by training any location with newspaper is acceptable.
Lovebird Training Example: