The Lovebirds

The Lovebirds
Perfect Pairs

Friday, March 30, 2007

Masked Lovebird- perfect breeders for you...

Masked lovebirds (Agapornis personata personata) are native of Northern Tanzania. They are usually 16 cm long. Male and female are green in color. Head-black; Nape, throat, and breast yellow; white eye ring; beak red. Young- head a paler brown-black.

Masked lovebirds prefer to live in the grasslands of acacias and mimosa bushes. You can easily see a flock of forty birds at a point near the river banks, but they will avoid real highlands. They usually feed on grass and other seeds, as well as berries.

These lovebirds are always available from breeders or traders. Sexing these birds is really a daunting task. By observing the behavior, you can sex the birds to some extent. Male usually adopts the upright position and possess narrower eye ring. Males seldom reaches nest box. Females are larger and heavier. They usually line up the nest for laying eggs.

A single youngster kept in a cage soon becomes trusting. Its voice is less harsh than that of the peach-faced. Breeding has often proved sucessful, in a cage of 80 cm long. It is always wise to keep your birds as pairs, never more together, since otherwise fights break out.

Make sure that there is plentiful and constant supply of willow twigs because the birds use an enormous quantity of these in building their domed nests and the moisture that the twigs provide is important during incubation.

As for all lovebirds with white eye rings, incubation lasts twenty-one to twenty three days and the young remain on the nest for four to five weeks.

These small parrots can withstand a few degrees of frost, as long as they have boxes to retire to at night. Of course, newly-imported birds will need to be maintained at room temperature during their first winter here. They are somewhat delicate at first and need time to acclimatize themselves.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

All About Madagascar Lovebirds

Madagascar lovebirds are scientifically called as Agapornis cana. These lovebirds are native of Malagasy Republic and neighboring islands. Madagascar lovebirds are also called as Grey-headed love bird/Lavender headed love bird.These birds are 13.5 cm long. The male is green in color with silver-gray from head to breast. The females are green from head to breast. Domesticated reared lovebirds of this type are gray from head to breast but of slightly darker shade and covering a smaller area than on adult males; beaks partly blackish.

In wild, the Madagascar lovebirds live in large groups, though remaining in pairs. They usually tend to perch on the fringes of woodland and descend into the rice fields and plantations, where they do great damage.

In the past, Madagascar lovebird were very common and cheap to buy; Nowadays, the Malagasy Republic has banned their export and they become rarities. Newly imported specimens are shy and catch cold easily.

They usually prefer the bird room or family room. In a small cage they are rather nervous and this distract from any pleasure you may have in them. In my experience, they will breed and sleep in a budgerigar nest box by choice.

My birds only used a few sunflower seed husks and two dried leaves as nesting material, but my friends with these breeds reported that their birds used grasses, chickweed, small strips of newspaper, willow bark, pine and larch needles, cranberry and other leaves. They are known for constructing domed nest out of straw.

A clutch almost always consists of four to five eggs, which the female incubates for twenty-two days. Almost five weeks later, the young leave the nest. Young males emerge with a silver-gray head, whereas imported male young ones head is green in color.

Once the young one came out of the nest, it is the male who takes charge of them as the female immediately becomes broody again.

My Madagascar lovebird youngsters were reared almost exclusively on a diet of millet. They over winter in cold weather as long as it remains frost free. Some breeders have suffered no losses when the temperature went as low as -90 c. It is not good idea to house them with another species.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Facts About Abyssinian Lovebird

The Abyssinian lovebirds are also called as Blue-winged lovebirds or Mountain parrots. They are native of Ethiopia. The zoological term for this bird is Agapornis taranta. They are usually 16 cm long. The males are green; brow red; beak dark red in color. But females are having no red color on the head. The young ones are having yellow-brown beak. The young ones don't have red color in the head until it reaches three or four months age.

These lovebirds are usually habitat of altitudes of up 3000 meters and are really hardiest species- able to withstand even the greatest frosts. They will be noticed in groups of ten during non-breeding season and leading a nomadic life. They are very rare in human habitation.

Abyssinians are imported only sporadically because parts of Ethiopia have export restrictions. They are not in great demand as they are not highly colored and also difficult to breed in captivity.

One of the breeder reported that the female carried ivy leaves in her plumage to the nest and formed a bed of 3 cm high. During the brooding period, the female and male will attack the other birds like cockatiels and red rump parakeets when they housed together.

Abyssinian lovebird's lay three to five eggs and the mother incubate the eggs for twenty-four to twenty-five days. Six weeks later the young leave the nest. The parents do not resent being observed during incubation.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Black-collared Lovebirds- the Real Shy Bird

Black-collared lovebirds are the most adorable type of lovebirds. These lovebirds are inhabitant of Cameroons, Liberia and the Congo. They are also called as "Swindern's Lovebird". The Zoological name is Agapornis swindernianus.

Black-collared lovebirds are small and 13 cm long. Both male and female are green in color with olive-yellow breast, black ring on nape, and blue upper tail feathers. The root of tail is red; beak is blackish and orange yellow iris. The young ones are usually with paler beak and no black ring.

Black-collared lovebirds possesses three subspecies viz., Ituri Black-collared lovebird or Emin's Lovebird (A.s.emini), Cameroon Black-collared lovebird (A.s. zenkeri), and Nominate subspecies (A.s. swindernianus)

Black-collared lovebirds are known to be very timid birds and hence do not breed well in captivity. No living Black-collared Lovebirds have never reached Europe, as
far as is known.

These lovebirds are exclusively birds of the woods, feeding off figs and rice. As these lovebirds are fond of fig flesh or native fig seed, maintaining this species in captivity is a real challenge to an aviculturist. In the absence of these vital dietary necessities Black-collared Lovebirds kept in captivity succumbed to death within days. Black-collared Lovebird is evaluated as Least Concern in IUCN red list.

Countries like Uganda and Liberia have released stamps on Black-collared lovebirds, as they are their nature's treasure. See, how much care they have given for this timid and shy species…

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What is the lifespan of lovebirds?

Most of the lovebirds owners are breaking their head to find out the lovebirds lifespan. As most of the website are giving the lovebirds information like choosing a lovebird, lovebird health, training and behavior, lovebirds breeding and nine species of lovebirds, the life expectancy of the lovebirds is obscure.

Lovebirds Lifespan In Wild

In wild the life expectancy is about 5 to 7 years as they are being lifted for food by snakes,birds of prey and African cats.As the lovebirds have been reared in cages, the lifespan is usually doubled than normal because there is no deforestation which cause habitat loss and shortage of food, no drought which cause food shortages and water and also no predators, which cause extreme stress and never ending alertness.

Life Expectancy of Captive Lovebirds

Most of the pet owners confirm that a lovebird can live to be anywhere from fifteen to twenty years. some records confirmed that they lived up to thirty years. The surrounding environment is playing important role in the lovebirds lifespan.

If you want your lovebird to live more than fifteen years, then provide lots of fresh food and clean water daily. In addition to this, love and attention towards your bird will definitely increase its lifespan.

If you're maintaining your bird in good nutritious diet that includes fresh veggies and fruits, and foods high in beta carotene like carrots and cooked yams, with perfect human care, you can expect your lovebird to cross 15+ years.

As bottom line, seeking veterinary help before a lovebird becomes very ill, and keeping the cage and feeding dishes clean is your perfect protocol for having a long, healthy lifespan.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Zoonotic Diseases in Lovebirds

I think you know very well about Zoonotic diseases,meaning it may spread from animals/birds to human beings. Lovebirds also transmit some of the diseases to human beings. Hence as a owner of lovebirds, you do require to know about the Zoonotic diseases.

Not all the people are susceptible to Zoonotic diseases of lovebirds. Mostly these diseases are dangerous to the people who are compromised with immune system. This includes organ transplant recipients on immunosuppresive drugs, people infected with HIV, patients on chemotherapy (including high doses of prednisone) and newborn infants & the elderly.

Although the risk of Zoonotic disease of lovebirds are very minimal, it is a high time to aware the potential risk does exist. I am going to discuss about the major diseases, which are considered a Zoonotic risk. The common zoonotic diseases affecting the lovebirds are categorized into four groups. They are-
  • Bacterial diseases
  • Fungal diseases
  • Viral diseases
  • Parasitic diseases
Bacterial Zoonotic Diseases
The more common bacterial and bacteria-like organisms that can cause disease in humans are chlamydiosis (psittacosis), tuberculosis, campylobacteriosis, colibacillosis, and salmonellosis.

Fungal Zoonotic Diseases
Cryptococcus neoformans, and mycobacteriosis (the group of fungi that includes the agent that causes tuberculosis) are the important fungal diseases that may affect the lovebird owners.

Viral Zoonotic Diseases
Eastern/Western/Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEE, WEE & VEE) are the major viral diseases that may transmitted from wild birds to humans. But its occurrence in lovebirds is somewhat questionable. Anyhow, this also should not be ruled out while diagnosing Zoonotic diseases in an affected individual.

Parasitic Zoonotic Diseases
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are the two common parasitic diseases, which may transmit ailment from lovebirds to humans. Apart from this, external parasites (i.e. lice, mites) also play a major role in causing illness among the pet owners. Although this won't cause any infestation, it is possible for them to be found physically on a human.

Other disease such as toxoplasmosis (protozoan disease) also may be noticed among the lovebirds to pass on to their owners, if left untreated.

How To Avoid Zoonotic Diseases?
As you know prevention is better than cure, every family member must be instructed on proper hygienic precautions to take with every lovebird. This includes-
  • Avoid cleaning or disinfecting the lovebird related items in the bathroom or kitchen sink
  • Do disinfect and clean your lovebird food bowls, toys, and cages on a frequent basis
  • Don't allow your lovebird in areas where human food is being prepared
  • Wash your hands after handling your lovebird- This should be mandatory
Avoid stress to the birds as it affects their immune system. Malnutrition should be avoided as it will also weaken the immune system and is often the direct cause of many Zoonotic diseases in lovebirds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Uric Acid Estimation in Lovebirds Droppings

A Trial was conducted among 85 lovebirds of different types to find out the uric acid level in the droppings. Mean levels of uric acid estimated in fresh isolated droppings in 85 lovebirds was found to be 27.47 mg/gm of droppings (range was 7.1 to 63.2 mg/gm droppings)

The uric acid level found out in fresh isolated dropping in the lovebirds examined is of useful in differentiating renal system based uric acid imbalance. Whenever gout (visceral or articular gout) occurs in these birds.

Burr (1987) stated that it was not the level of the dietary protein that induces the disease, but an imbalance of amino acid causing greater production of uric acid: The impaired renal function or urinary tract obstruction commonly leads to urate deposition.


In general, high serum uric acid levels >20 mg/dl are associated with following condition:
  • Renal injury as in amino glycoside damage
  • Water deprivation and decreased water intake
  • Stress/massive tissue trauma/Inactivity
  • Severe lipaemia
  • High carbohydrate - Low protein diet
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency
Sequel of high Uric Acid

What happens if there is excess accumulation of uric acid (>20 mg/dl) in the system of the lovebirds? You can expect precipitation of uric acid in the tissues and further damage to kidneys and other organs, a vicious circle.

Additional Points
  • Raptor birds usually have high serum uric acid due to their consumption of prey animals that are rich in purine.
  • Uric acid level in droppings was estimated first and the findings might be consider as a base value.
Burr, E.W. 1987. Companion bird medicine. Iowa State University Press, USA.

Monday, March 12, 2007

How to Perform Mutations in Masked Lovebirds?

Do you know the first mutation in masked lovebird was first captured in 1927? Nowadays they're bred fairly successfully not only in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and US, but also in Europe.

Are you going to mutate masked lovebirds? Then, it is not good idea to pair blue with blue continually. Occasionally cross a blue with a normal-colored specimen to improve the quality of the blues bred. Do follow the followinng breeding regimen to get perfectly mutated masked ones: -

Blue x Blue = all blue birds
Blue x Normal = all normal, some of which are split for blue
Blue x Split blue = approx. half blue and half split blue
Split blue x Split blue = approx. half split, a quarter blue and quarter normal

You can identify blues when they are still in the nest because they have white down, whereas normal have reddish down. An adult blue is blue where the normally colored bird is green; gray-white instead of yellow; the beak is bright red.

Further mutations include yellows and whites but the names are misleading because the birds are not pure yellow or pure white.

There has also been a gray-winged mutation, produced by yellows and whites. Its head and primaries are virtually white. I also have known of cinnamon-colored masked lovebirds in Japan.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Get to Know Black-cheeked Lovebirds (Agapornis nigrigensis)

Black-cheeked Lovebirds are native of Northern Zimbabwe. Both the sexes possess dark brown cheeks (view the pictures here). Yellow green color is noticed in the rear head and sides of throat. The throat is orange-brown in color. They are having red beak, white-eye ring and dark green upper parts. Usually the young Black-cheeked Lovebird would be dull in color.

You can get mutated Black-cheeked lovebirds, which is the outcome of hybrid between Black-cheeked and Masked lovebirds. Actually this is not advised.

Black-cheeked Lovebird has also become very rare recently. They are smaller than the Nyasa and, like them, can be sexed according to their behavior. They are friendly towards their own kind and other birds. Some exceptional breeding pairs yield three broods a year.

Birds can tolerate a few degrees of frost but imported specimens have to be kept at 15 degrees celcius or more, otherwise you may experience substantial losses just like that of masked lovebirds. Black-cheeked lovebirds are listed on "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species".