Classification Order Passeriformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Agapornis cana Other Common Names Madagascar Lovebird
Species Description The Grey-headed Lovebird is one of the smallest
species of the lovebird genus, being 13 cm (5 inches) long and
weighing about 30–36 grams. Its beak and feet are pale grey. The
species is sexually dimorphic: the adult female is entirely green,
with a dark green back and wings, a bright green rump, and a paler
green chest; the adult male are similarly colored, except that their
entire head and upper chest are a pale grey.
Lovebirds are strong fliers, and when open, their wings seem larger
in relation to their bodies than those of the Peach-faced Lovebird.
They can develop good speed quite quickly and effortlessly, and turn
smoothly, though they are not as nimble in the air as the Peachies.
Distribution They are native on the island of Madagascar and
are the only lovebird species which are not native on the African
Captivity Grey-headed Lovebirds were first imported for
European aviculture in the second half of the nineteenth century.
When imports were permitted and they were available to aviculture in
large numbers, little effort was put into breeding. They prefer to
breed in the autumn, and because they have poor tolerance for cold
weather, breeding in aviculture is generally unsuccessful. They tend
to be nervous and easily frightened in an aviary.
quite rare in captivity, with only a very few breeders having
successfully reproduced more than one or two generations. This, and
the fact that even hand-fed birds remain too shy and nervous to make
good pets, are clear reasons for any captive Madagascars to be given
a chance to breed, rather than being kept as pets.
Grey-headed Lovebirds prefer finch and canary seed over the
sunflower/safflower mixes that most other lovebirds eat.
Summary The name Lovebird stems from these parrots'
strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods of time in
which paired birds will spend sat beside one another.
Lovebirds live in small flocks and eat mainly fruit,
vegetables, some grasses and seed. Abyssinian Lovebirds also eat
insects and figs, and the Black-collared Lovebirds have a special
dietary requirement for native figs making them almost impossible to
keep in captivity.
Lovebirds (in general) are not known
for their talking ability, although there are some lovebirds that do
learn words - the females are usually the ones that do this. As is
the case when many smaller parrots, the "voice" of lovebirds is
high-pitched and raspy and it may be difficult to understand their
speech. Lovebirds are very vocal birds, making loud, high-pitched
noises that can be a nuisance. They make noise all day, but
especially at certain times of day. They are also extremely active,
and love to chew things. It is wise to observe the birds carefully
when let out of their cage, and to protect any furniture, or
anything they have access to.
Lovebirds are notorious for
attempting to build nests, especially during mating season - for
this reason, loose material such as shredded paper and fabric do not
make suitable toys at certain times of year, as the lovebirds could
see it as nest-making material and attempt to mate. Breeding is not
something that should be attempted by someone without lots of
experience. "Huts" or hiding places and small enclosures are also
not good for the same reason. Female lovebirds are prone to
egg-binding, an often fatal condition in which an egg cannot be laid
as it gets caught in the reproductive tract. It is thought that egg
binding often occurs due to a lack of liquid calcium in the diet,
which causes a softer shell. To prevent this females, particularly
those kept in pairs, should be given calcium supplementation in
their water from a young age. Additionally, egg binding appears more
likely amongst younger birds; to avoid egg binding females in
captivity should be prevented from engaging in mating behaviours
until at least one year of age.
Lovebirds are also known
to be nippy and bossy. Although this can be seen as amusing and
endearing by many owners, some do not like it; a lovebird, while a
nice pet, is not for everyone. They bite very hard and love to test
their limits - if the owner does not set them early on, he or she
will have a bird that bites to get their way.
species of the genus are amongst the most popular parrots kept as
pets, and several color mutations have been selectively breed in
aviculture. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Lovebirds vary in size from about 13 to 17 centimeters in
length and from about 40 to 60 grams in weight. They are among the
smallest parrots in the world, and they are characterized by a
stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large beak for
their overall size. Wild-type lovebirds are mostly green with a
variety of colors on their upper body depending on the species. The
Fischer's Lovebird, Black-cheeked Lovebird, and the Masked Lovebirds
have a white ring around their eyes. The Abyssinian Lovebird, the
Madagascar Lovebird, and the Red-faced Lovebird are sexually
dimorphic. Many colour mutations have been produced by selective
breeding in the species that are popular in aviculture.