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What is a Lovebird?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2016
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A lovebird is a parrot of the genus Agapornis, which comprises nine species. The birds are native to Africa, and many species are kept as pets. Lovebirds are small and affectionate, and live for ten to 15 years. Their common name is a reference to the birds' tendency to form close monogamous bonds with each other. In the wild, lovebirds live in small flocks. Depending on species, they may eat insects, grasses, seeds, and fruit, including figs.

Lovebirds are among the smallest parrots, being an average of 5 to 7 inches (13 to 17 centimeters) in length. Some species are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females have a different appearance, while the sex of other species can only be determined through a genetic test. The lovebird can form strong bonds with people as well as other birds. Despite this tendency, aggression can also be a problem. Lovebirds are noisy, and some are able to talk.

Eight species of lovebird are native to mainland Africa, while one species, the Madagascar lovebird or grey-headed lovebird (A. canus), is native to Madagascar. The black-collared lovebird (A. swindernianus), native to countries of equatorial Africa, is difficult to keep as a pet because it requires native figs in its diet. The bird is also very shy and does not breed easily in captivity.

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Lovebirds require housing with a minimum size of 3 square feet (1 square meter) per bird. They have sharp beaks that grow continuously, and must have wood or cuttlebones to chew to keep their beaks at a healthy length. Lovebirds also need perches, toys, and exercise. They are intelligent animals and can become bored and depressed without interaction and stimulation. A radio or television can prevent the bird from becoming too lonely if it must be left alone for an extended period of time.

It can be difficult for a pet owner to give a solitary lovebird all the attention it needs. Getting two lovebirds that can bond with each other is recommended, though the birds' relationship with the owner will be less intense. Birds of the opposite sex can mate, even if they are not the same species, so two birds of the same sex are often preferable.

Care should be taken when keeping lovebirds in the same household as other animals. Cats or dogs may consider the bird prey. Lovebirds also have a tendency to act aggressively towards other bird species.

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