How Do Lovebirds Mate?

By Jasey Kelly

Lovebird is the common name for any of several species of the genus Agapornis. Mating among these pint-sized parrots has many facets, some of which gave the lovebird its name.

Lovebirds in General

These small parrots -- lovebirds reach between 5 and 7 1/2 inches long -- are curious, affectionate and, more often than not, able to show quite a bit of attitude. Lovebird species commonly kept as pets are the peach-faced, black-cheeked, masked and Fischer's.

One reason behind the name lovebird is the monogamous bond they form with their chosen mate. Among the few truly monogamous animals on Earth, lovebirds have a strong need for a companion and without a bonded mate of the same species, project their affections onto their humans.

While these birds often do well in large groups of lovebirds in aviaries, lovebirds are known to be aggressive toward pets, people and other birds, aside from their mate. For this reason, if you intend to spend a great deal of time with your lovebird and are looking for a companion pet, house your lovebird alone and ensure you spend several hours with her every day. If you cannot spend an acceptable amount of time with your lovebird, consider adding another lovebird. Note that not all lovebird pairs will bond and you may end up with two lovebirds that show more disdain than love for each other.

Breeding Season

In captivity, lovebirds breed any time during the year. In the wild, however, breeding seasons differ for different species. For peach-faced lovebirds, it's April, October and February through March. Fischer's lovebirds, which live in Africa, breed during the dry season that lasts from January through July.

Courtship and Mating

The male lovebird woos the female by feeding her, which is the first sign of courtship during the breeding season. The pair may mate several times per day.

In captivity, a pair of lovebirds will generally bond, build a nest and mate, which is why a novice owner, who wants to bond with her pet bird, should stick with one lovebird and choose to be its companion.

Nesting Behavior

Lovebirds enjoy tearing up items, such as paper, and create elaborate nests. For example, a peach-faced female exhibiting nesting behavior will shred thin strips of paper and ritualistically stuff them between her tail feathers before carrying them to her nesting area. Fischer's lovebirds will drag the material and create a tunnel nest, and masked lovebirds' nesting behavior is similar to Fischer's. Some young males and females that are not yet sexually mature may also exhibit nesting behavior as they are learning to be adults.

In the wild, most species of lovebirds gather in large colonies, with many breeding couples building their nests in holes or cavities near each other. To build their nests, females tear up natural items, such as palm leaves and strips of bark, found in their home range.

Like other birds, female lovebirds may lay unfertilized eggs starting well before they are 1 year old, and may lay unfertilized eggs into adulthood. Females exhibit nest-building behavior even for unfertilized eggs. Adult females generally lay small clutches of three to six eggs.

After she lays her eggs, the female will likely stay in her nesting hole -- a nesting box in captivity -- almost exclusively. The male will continue to feed her, and both parents will take care of the chicks once hatched.