The Basics of Lovebird Breeding
Lovebirds should not be bred unless they are a year old and sexually mature. Lovebirds can and sometimes do breed before a year; however, this can cause complications. If a lovebird is setup with a mate and a nesting box is installed, then courting and mating will follow.
Lovebird Nesting Material
Before any eggs are laid the female will construct a nest (provided nesting material is available). Since lovebirds need extra moisture during hatching and embryo development, using nesting material high in moisture will make hatching smoother. Palm fronds are ideal; however, they need to be soaked and washed very well. If palm fronds are not available use grasses that are still green. Be sure to do research before any nesting material is placed inside the cage as it can be toxic. If you cannot find nesting material, Aspen Chips and Carefresh are ideal materials. Using newspapers or anything that acts like a sponge will dry up the nest and cause more problems. The ink and the paper are also very messy and will harden due to the droppings the chicks leave—avoid newspapers if possible. Bacteria will thrive well in wet dirty newspaper.
Depending on the species of lovebird you choose to breed, the female will carry nesting material into the nest in various ways. Peach-face Lovebirds for example, tuck nesting material in their tail feathers while Green Masked Lovebirds carry nesting material back with their beaks.
Once the lovebirds start constructing their nest, mating will follow.
During this time, the lovebirds will mate repeatedly and you can expect
eggs to follow 3-5 days later. The female will spend hours inside her
nesting box before eggs are laid. Just let her be and do not disturb
her. Once the first egg is laid a new egg will follow every other day
until the clutch is complete—usually 4 – 6 eggs.
The female will sit on her eggs for 21-23 days. Just before hatching, the chicks will make a small crack or hole called a pip hole. This allows them to start breathing oxygen. Not only does it help them breath better, but it is an indication that hatching should follow 12- 24 hours later.
Lovebird Babies and Hand feeding
Once the chicks hatch, it is important not to handle them. They are very fragile and the mother will feed them. These first feedings are crucial because the mother will feed them a clear liquid filled with nutrients and enzymes for digestion. As the babies mature, the mother will feed them regurgitated food from her food dishes. If you choose to hand feed the chicks, remove them 8-10 days after hatching. Removing one chick at a time will cause the mother to abandon the nest, if hand feeding, take them out at the same time. Place them into a brooder, a warming enclosure, and begin the process. Just be sure to let their crops empty completely before their first feedings, then give them the formula. If you are inexperienced in hand feeding, do not try to hand feed the babies yourself. Many complications can arise for inexperienced hand feeders.
The first few feedings might be difficult; however, most babies eagerly accept feedings. Some breeders choose to spoon feed while others use a syringe. Whatever method you choose take caution and be prepared for lots of work. If you choose not to hand feed, but want to interact with the babies daily while their mother feeds them, that is fine as long as she isn’t frightened and accepts your company. This produces tame babies and saves you the work of hand feeding. Just be sure to handle the babies three times a day for 15 minutes. While the babies are younger and fewer feathers are present, hold no longer than a few minutes at a time. The babies can easily get cold and weak if they are away from their mother for too long. As the babies mature handling can be increased.
Leaving the Nest and Weaning
As the chicks grow, which is a matter of weeks, they will feather out and start to leave the nest. During this time they will practice flying and exploring objects inside their cage. The mother will persuade them to eat on their own until fully weaned, which is around 8 weeks old. After the babies are weaned and flying skills have been developed, clipping the bird’s
wings is acceptable and suggested. Clipping the birds’ wings will ensure that your bird doesn’t accidentally fly away. The babies should be removed once they are all independent. If the babies are not removed, the mother could harm them due to wanting to nest again.
To avoid extra breeding or aggressiveness, remove the nesting box and clean it out. Then put it away and save it for next year.
Another benefit of owning lovebirds is their willingness to breed.
Unlike larger parrots that can be difficult to reproduce, these parrots
will breed willingly if the conditions are right.
Owning a lovebird has so many positive attributes that they are now rivaling the budgie and cockatiel in popularity. They make great parrots for anyone looking for a wonderful pet companion.