CARING FOR YOUR PET LOVEBIRD
Lovebirds originate from Madagascar, the coastal plains of Southwest Africa to Ethiopia. There are nine species with each claiming a different geographical area as their own. Lovebirds are small, affectionate and intelligent companions. Sometimes cuddly, sometimes comical, they are always full of life! These “pocket parrots” are a welcome addition to just about any family.
One Lovebird, Two or More?
Many believe that lovebirds can only be kept as a pair. Although, a well-matched pair is undoubtedly affectionate toward one another, a single, well-socialized lovebird will make an exceptional pet especially if he has been hand-fed. A single, tame bird that has a close bond with you can be an amazing source of love and pleasure. If you are unable to spend the time that is required to keep your lovebird happy, then two lovebirds would be a better choice. Lovebirds are by nature, sociable birds that prefer contact with members of their own species. Having two lovebirds will benefit both you and your birds. When you are not able to spend time with your lovebirds, they will have each other to occupy their time preening, playing and cuddling.
To provide a happy, healthy atmosphere for your lovebirds, Petland recommends the following necessary and fun accessories. We have listed them as your lovebird’s four basic needs: Environmental, Nutritional, Maintenance and Behavioural. When these needs are met, along with a loving environment provided by you, your lovebirds can live 15 years or more.
Your Lovebird’s New Home – When purchasing a cage for your lovebirds, keep the following in mind. Get the largest cage that you can. A roomy home with lots of area for climbing and playing is ideal. Your lovebird’s cage will need horizontal bars (good for climbing) that are spaced no more than ¾ inches apart. Steer away from round cages, since they do not provide the security your lovebirds need.
Your lovebird’s home should be placed away from direct sunlight (indirect is perfect), heat or air-conditioning vents, and any drafts. Birds wake at sunrise and sleep at sunset. Make sure your lovebirds are getting the rest that they need by having a quiet room for bedtime, without the distractions of television or radio (a cage cover may help). Lovebirds need approximately 12 hours of sleep and just like people, a lovebird devoid of sleep can be cranky!
Lighting – Your lovebird requires exposure to ultraviolet light on a daily basis. Since it is not possible in our climate to have him outside on a daily basis, and placing him in front of a window only allows ineffective filtered light inside, the use of a full-spectrum light is vital. UVA and UVB is necessary to prevent calcium and vitamin D3 deficiencies, which can cause a tremendous amount of health problems. As well, depriving your lovebird of UV light will make him colour blind. It has also been suggested that UVA light is beneficial in reducing or eliminating abnormal behaviour, such as feather damaging disorders, phobias and aggression among just a few. An avian floor lamp and UVA/UVB bulb will be a necessary part of your lovebird's basic environmental need. For more information ask a pet counsellor for a copy of the Ultraviolet Lighting for Birds and Reptiles tip sheet.
Perches – Birds were not meant to stand on the same diameter of a tree branch or perch. Your lovebirds must have a variety of perch sizes to allow their feet proper exercise. Make sure that the perches are not too smooth, too hard or too rough. Sandpaper perch covers should be used on only one out of three perches. These covers will help to keep nails trim and are fun to pick at. Perches made of rope or natural wood with bark provide the best surfaces for your lovebird’s feet. Inside the cage, situate two of the perches at the same height as the seed and water dishes, and not directly over them, where fecal matter could spoil the food.
Playground or Bird Tree – A playground or bird tree is a necessity for your lovebirds if they are to be healthy, happy and fit! A playground area provides a secure and happy place to exercise and play, preen and snooze outside of the cage.
Birdie Pocket – Every living creature needs an area to call their own. A hiding place is necessary to reduce stress and to make them feel secure. A birdie pocket is made of cozy material, which encourages lovebirds to snuggle up to it (or burrow inside).
You must give your lovebirds a balanced diet if they are to live a long and happy life! A lovebird's diet should be comprised of pellets, as his staple diet, some seed and a daily selection of vegetables and fruit.
Staple Diet – Fresh lovebird or cockatiel pellets should always be available. Seeds add variety to the diet but should not be the staple diet as they are not nutritionally balanced. Check the food regularly and replace if soiled. Refill it daily.
Daily Salad - A daily part of your lovebird's fare should be made up of carefully selected fresh and cooked vegetables and bits of fruit to be fed as part of their morning meal. Broccoli, beets, green beans, navy and lima beans, sweet potatoes and carrots (to name just a few) are all good sources of essential nutrients. Fruits, such as papayas, apples, pears, and bananas, should be considered a treat and offered minimally. Keep in mind that what is good for you is good for your lovebirds, in moderation. Feed all perishable foods in a separate dish, and remove it after one or two hours.
Vitamin/Mineral/Amino Acid Supplement – If a lovebird’s diet is made up primarily (90%) of pellets and he enjoys a variety of vegetables, fruits, seeds and other nutritious table foods, then a vitamin supplement is not necessary and could, in some instances, be harmful. If however, a lovebird’s diet is not ideal (strictly on seed), then we recommend the addition of a high-quality powdered vitamin. This is best administered on top of his daily salad.
Cuttlebone – Rich in calcium, cuttlebone also provides a means in which to sharpen the beak. The cuttlebone will absorb odours and if not eaten, should be replaced every two months. If your lovebird does not show any interest in his cuttlebone, grind it up into powder and mix with his salad or favourite treat.
Iodine Block – This provides iodine, copper and many other minerals in small quantities. The iodine block is fun to chew and tasty too! A pellet staple diet meets the required iodine level in birds, making the iodine block unessential unless feeding a seed staple diet.
Spray Millet – Millet is the only food available for birds that they would typically find in the wild. When you bring home your lovebird, you should provide spray millet for them on a daily basis. This may be the only thing that your lovebird will feel comfortable eating in the beginning. Once your bird has adjusted to their new home, offering them spray millet once or twice a week is fine.
Treats – Packaged seed treats, honey sticks, and spray millet are great options. They provide your lovebird with the variety he craves and the behavioural requirements he needs. Some toys have an added benefit of providing a treat inside too!
Bird Bath/Showering – Treat your birds on a daily basis to a misting shower, or if they prefer, a large shallow bird bath of warm water. Fill a clean water spray bottle (intended only for that use) with hot tap water for a warm morning shower. Spray from over your bird’s head if they do not enjoy direct misting. If your lovebirds are leery to step inside their bath, try placing the bath outside of the cage with the hood off, this may encourage their natural curiosity. A damp lettuce leaf placed in the bath helps too!
Water Bottle and Bracket – The fresh water that you serve to your lovebirds in the morning may be soiled in very little time with food or droppings. A secondary water source, such as a water bottle is a good way to keep your lovebird’s water clean and free of droppings. Lovebirds quickly understand how to use it and many enjoy playing with the spout.
Additional Food Cups – Stainless steel or ceramic treat cups are easy to keep clean and last longer than others. Your lovebirds will need one additional cup for salad, and one for warm foods, such as eggs, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and oatmeal.
Substrate - Cage paper is easy to remove and will not become a soppy mess like paper towels or newspaper when water is inevitably splashed onto it. Bedding such as Eco- bedding or CareFresh® may be used if there is a grate overtop to prevent the lovebird from foraging amongst its feces.
Nail Clipper, File and Coagulant – Your lovebird’s nails will grow continuously. Nail clippers made especially for birds must be used. Take care not to over trim or cut into blood vessels running through each nail. Have a blood coagulant waiting and ready to use. Flight feathers should be trimmed regularly to prevent accidents, injury or worse. If you prefer, ask your pet counsellor to make an appointment to have this done for you.
Toys – Ladders, rope toys, sturdy plastic or acrylic interactive toys and so on. A variety of interesting toys made of different materials are essential to your lovebird’s mental and physical well-being. New toys should be added periodically to thwart boredom and to provide them with the mental stimulation and exercise they need. This isn’t just fun, but a necessary part of your lovebird’s continued development. Lovebirds need destructible toys, along with indestructible ones. This fulfils their inherent need to chew. Your lovebirds must always be given materials that can be ripped, bitten and chewed, such as cloth, leather, wood, cardboard, paper, rope and branches. There are many toys available made specifically for small parrots (lovebirds) in your Petland store. Rotate and add new toys for your birds on a regular basis.
Please ask your pet counsellor what other items pertain to your lovebird’s needs.
Attention: Certain cookware, aerosols, incense, aromatic candles and household cleaners may be harmful or worse to your bird’s health. Ask a pet counsellor for a copy of the Safety Tips & Household Hazards tip sheet.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets can potentially carry diseases that may be contagious to people. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their environments. Regular cleaning of your pet’s environment with a pet safe cleaner may help avoid the spread of contaminants.
Hygiene procedures such as washing your hands before and after handling your pet and/or after having any contact with their habitat, is a necessary routine. Children should be assisted with hand washing and always have adult supervision when interacting with pets.
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