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how do you know when lovebirds are ready to breed?

Are Lovebirds Easy To Breed? (Courtship + Mating)

Last Updated on January 24, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Lovebirds are among the easiest parrot species to breed in captivity. If you intend to breed lovebirds, get a bonded opposite-sex pair of reproductive age. Ideally, they should be between 1 and 2 years old.

The breeder will supply you with a lovebird breeding chart. This chart will contain essential information such as the pair’s names, ages, genders, species, parents, colors, and health history.

After you breed the pair, add further information to the chart to create a family tree. Note which lovebirds you’ve mated and whether the pairing produced healthy or unhealthy chicks.

Avoid mating siblings with each other. Inbreeding regularly leads to less healthy birds with a shorter life expectancy. Also, don’t crossbreed different species of lovebirds, as this can lead to infertile offspring.

Mating Season for Lovebirds

The breeding season for wild lovebirds is species-specific.

African lovebirds like Fischer’s lovebirds (Agapornis fischeri) breed in the dry season at the turn of the year until midsummer. Peach-faced lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis) mate in the spring and fall.

Spring is th most common time lovebirds breed. Once the eggs have been laid, the temperature is well-suited to the needs of the embryos, maximizing the chances of hatching healthy chicks.

Captive lovebirds can mate at any time of year, assuming the environment meets their needs. Increased light exposure and rising temperatures stimulate hormonal activity.

How To Tell When Lovebirds Are Ready To Breed

Lovebirds have mating rituals and behavior that tell us when they’re ready to breed. These include:

  • Additional feather preening, demonstrating virility through bright and healthy feathers.
  • Elaborate dances, walks, bowing, and acts of showmanship.
  • Sharing perches, only leaving each other’s side to gather food.
  • Allogrooming, with each bird helping the other to maintain its appearance.
  • Mutual feeding involves the hen opening her beak and the male regurgitating food.
  • Building a nest or lining a nesting box, sometimes with their own feathers.

According to Behavior, female lovebirds are likelier to respond to the call of a bonded mate.

how do you breed lovebirds?

How Long It Takes Lovebirds To Mate

Most lovebirds reach sexual maturity at 10 months old. Many breeders keep lovebirds until they reach this age because they anticipate that buyers will want to breed them a few months later.

Once lovebirds are sexually mature, they won’t always start breeding. Before mating, the two lovebirds must form a special bond, which takes time.

Not all pairings will get along. Even if they bond, they may not breed successfully.

How To Breed Lovebirds

Let nature take its course if the lovebirds are bonded and ready to breed. If not, a lovebird pairing is likelier to mate successfully if you follow these steps:

Opposite Sexes

While this sounds obvious, you must ensure the breeding pair comprises a male and a female. Same-sex lovebirds can bond and become close companions but can’t reproduce.

A breeding chart will provide the information you need if you buy the lovebirds from a breeder. If you lack this information, apply for Polymerase Chain Reaction DNA testing.

This service is available online. You’ll be asked for a DNA sample for each bird, such as a feather from the lovebird’s plumage. This will be used to determine the bird’s X and Y chromosomes.

Healthy And Strong

Before allowing lovebirds to mate, take them to the vet for a health checkup. If both lovebirds are in good health, you can safely breed them.

Avoid breeding the birds if a health problem is identified in one or both lovebirds. Many avian diseases are hereditary and will be passed on to their offspring, possibly leading to embryo mortality.

Food Availability

Female lovebirds need more mineral-rich food during the breeding season.

Egg production is a resource-intensive process. If a bird doesn’t get enough calcium, the skeleton will decalcify, and the bones will become fragile and break easily.

Insufficient calcium leads to weak and vulnerable soft-shelled eggs, leaving the hen at risk of becoming egg-bound (dystocia). Non-dairy foods, like kale and collard greens, are beneficial.

Alternatively, provide calcium supplements under vet advisement or add a cuttlefish bone to the cage.

Lighting Conditions

Lovebirds usually mate in the spring when it’s warmer, the days are lighter, and food is plentiful. Sun exposure is essential for vitamin D3 synthesis and calcium absorption.

Avoid covering the cage early in the evening, as this suppresses the hormonal desire to breed. Also, under your supervision, put the cage outside in a sunny (partially shaded) place for a few hours.

Prepare A Nesting Box

Wild lovebirds lay their eggs in dark, secluded locations like hollowed trees, so you must replicate this nesting setup as well as possible in captivity.

A lovebird nesting box should be solid and no smaller than 12 inches on each side.

The box needs an entrance of around 3 inches, so it’s large enough for a lovebird but not so big that other animals could easily access it (if they were living in the wild).

This nesting box should contain lining material, like shredded paper. If you don’t provide lining, the hen will remove some of her feathers to insulate the nest.

How To Tell If Lovebirds Are Mating

Following a successful courtship, the male lovebird clicks his beak and approaches the hen from behind. The male will place one foot on the hen’s wings to hold her in place and mount.

Both lovebirds will then open their wings to maintain balance.

When lovebirds are in season, the cloaca – an orifice that releases avian waste and eggs – will be swollen. They’ll push their swollen cloacas together. This is called a cloacal kiss.

If the breeding is successful, sperm will be transferred from the male’s cloaca to the hen’s. This is transported to the hen’s oviduct, and an egg is formed.

This may take seconds, at which point the male will dismount the hen.

How Often Lovebirds Breed

If you maintain optimum breeding conditions, lovebirds may mate several times a year. It’s common for captive lovebirds to lay eggs 5-6 times in 12 months.

Just because lovebirds can breed this often doesn’t mean they should. Breeding lovebirds reduces the body’s calcium stores. Some parrots become chronic egg-layers, to the detriment of their health.

What Happens After Lovebirds Breed

In the immediate aftermath of breeding, a hen may be less affectionate toward her mate. She may become more territorial and protective of food while continuing to line the nesting box.

The lovebird will lay her first egg about 7-10 days after copulation.

how long does it take for lovebirds to mate?

How Many Eggs Lovebirds Lay At A Time

The average clutch of eggs of a lovebird is 4 to 7. However, she won’t lay all her eggs at once. Lovebirds release an egg every 24-48 hours until all eggs have been laid.

If the eggs are fertile, both parents (usually females) sit on them. If they seem disinterested, the eggs may be diseased or unfertilized. You can check if an egg has an embryo by ‘candling’ it.

A few days after the egg has hatched, hold it a foot away and shine a small flashlight against the shell. If the egg is fertilized, you’ll see red veins within the shell and a small, dark shape. This is the embryo.

Unfertilized eggs have a yellow yolk but no spider-like veins.

How To Keep Lovebird Embryos Alive

Lovebirds’ eggs usually take 18-24 days to hatch. If the egg hasn’t hatched after 28 days, it’s unlikely that the embryo survived. Causes of embryo mortality in lovebirds include:

  • Illness has spread from the parents or nearby eggs.
  • A lack of calcium leads to weak, misshapen eggshells.
  • An absence of warmth after laying or excess heat before hatching.
  • Impact on the egg, like rolling out of a nesting box, causing physical damage.
  • Unsanitary conditions cause bacterial infection.
  • A lack of ventilation or humidity makes it impossible for the chicks to breathe.
  • Tough eggshells can’t be pipped, leading to oxygen deprivation.

Not all the lovebirds’ eggs will hatch, so they lay multiple eggs per clutch.

Why Lovebirds Aren’t Breeding

Lovebird breeding problems include:

  • Incorrect sexing (two males or two females have been paired).
  • One or both lovebirds are infertile.
  • The female rejects the male.
  • Insufficient light and warmth.
  • Not fed a nutritionally balanced diet.

A lovebird can lay a single unhealthy egg. If the entire clutch doesn’t hatch (and it has happened several times), try an alternative pairing to see if this is more favorable.