Lovebirds will breed if they have formed a pair bond. A male lovebird will attempt to court a female lovebird during the breeding season. If the hen accepts his invitation, mating will usually follow.
If you intend to breed lovebirds, get a bonded pair of reproductive age, usually around 10 months old. Allow the lovebirds to adjust to life in captivity before encouraging mating.
If you bought 2 lovebirds, you’d be given a lovebird breeding chart. This will list the essential data about both birds, including their names, ages, sex, species, pedigree and parentage, and color mutations.
As you breed the lovebirds, keep adding to this chart, creating a family tree.
Note which lovebirds you’ve mated and whether the coupling was successful and led to healthy eggs and hatchlings. If 2 lovebirds aren’t successfully breeding, attempt a different pairing.
Avoid mating siblings with each other, as inbreeding can lead to health complications in chicks. Also, don’t crossbreed different species of lovebirds, as this can lead to infertility in their offspring.
Do Lovebirds Breed Easily?
Lovebirds are widely regarded as the easiest parrots for a novice to breed.
Lovebirds are usually monogamous, bonding with a single partner for life, hence their moniker. If these bonded partners are of the opposite sex, they’ll likely mate in captivity.
Do Lovebirds Have a Mating Season?
Breeding season for wild lovebirds varies.
African lovebirds like Fischer’s lovebirds (Agapornis fischeri) breed during the dry season at the turn of the year until midsummer. Peach-faced lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis) mate during the spring and fall.
Captive lovebirds can mate at any time if the environment matches their needs.
Spring is widely regarded as the safest time to breed captive lovebirds as the temperature will suit the needs of the embryos once eggs are laid, neither too cold nor hot.
How Do You Know When Lovebirds are Ready to Breed?
Lovebirds have a range of courtship rituals that make it clear they’re ready to breed. Look out for common mating behavior in lovebirds, as they’ll likely mate after they arise:
- Preening and parading, demonstrating strength and virility through bright and healthy feathers.
- Sharing perches, only leaving each other’s side when gathering food or lining a nesting box.
- 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 and lining a nesting box if provided in the cage.
- As explained by Behavior, female birds are likelier to respond to the call of a bonded mate.
These could be demonstrations of affection between 2 bonded lovebirds and won’t always lead to mating. More often than not, these actions will immediately precede breeding.
How Long Does it Take Lovebirds to Mate?
Most lovebirds reach sexual maturity from the age of around 10 months. Many breeders hold onto their lovebirds until they reach this age, as they expect buyers will want to consider breeding them.
Once lovebirds are sexually mature, they won’t automatically start breeding. The birds must form a sufficient bond with a partner before mating, which can take time.
While lovebirds can be encouraged to mate through adjustments to diet and lifestyle, attempting to force breeding can lead to antagonism towards each other.
How Do You Breed Lovebirds?
If you’re certain the lovebirds are bonded and ready to breed, allow nature to take its course. The lovebirds are considerably likelier to mate successfully if you follow these steps:
While this sounds obvious, you must ensure that the chosen breeding pair is a male and a female. Same-sex lovebirds can bond and become close companions but can’t reproduce.
A lovebird breeding chart should provide the information you need if you get lovebirds from a breeder. If you remain concerned, apply for Polymerase Chain Reaction DNA testing.
This service is cost-effective and available online. You’ll be asked for a DNA sample for each bird, such as a feather plucked from the plumage, and this will be used to determine X and Y chromosomes.
Healthy And Strong
Before allowing lovebirds to embark on mating, take them for a veterinary check-up. If both lovebirds are given a clean bill of health, you can proceed with the breeding.
If a health issue is revealed in one or both lovebirds, it’s advisable not to proceed. Many avian illnesses are hereditary and will be passed onto chicks, possibly leading to embryo mortality.
The lovebirds, especially the hen, must eat more during mating season.
Be less concerned with portion size during this period, and ensure they get sufficient calcium. Consider adding calcium supplements to food during the breeding season.
Lovebirds mate when spring arrives, and the days are longer and lighter, so allow them more exposure to sunlight when you want them to breed.
Sun exposure will allow them to synthesize vitamin D3, which is essential for calcium absorption.
You can stop covering the cage early in the evening, which is a way to suppress the hormonal desire to breed in birds. If the lovebirds still get 10 to 12 hours of sleep, they’ll be fine.
Prepare a Nesting Box
Wild lovebirds lay their eggs in dark, secure locations such as hollowed trees or logs, so you must replicate this nesting arrangement 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 be filled with lining material. Shredded paper will be okay, or use aspen shavings. The hen may start plucking her feathers if you don’t provide enough lining.
How Do I Know if My Lovebirds are Mating?
Ensure you know the difference between lovebirds mating and fighting, as the birds shouldn’t be separated while attempting to breed.
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, which is sometimes known as 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 Do Lovebirds Breed?
If you maintain optimum breeding conditions, lovebirds may mate several times a year. It’s not uncommon for captive lovebirds to lay eggs as often as 5-6 times in a single 12-month period.
Just because lovebirds can mate this often, it doesn’t mean they should.
Each time a hen lays eggs, it affects her health. Breeding a lovebird to excess reduces her body’s calcium stores, making complications from further laying more likely.
If you don’t want the lovebirds to breed, reduce light in their habitat to trick the birds into thinking that winter has arrived, and don’t encourage mating rituals and behaviors.
If necessary, temporarily separate them when one attempts to instigate mating.
What Happens After Lovebirds Breed?
In the immediate aftermath of breeding, a hen may be slightly less affectionate toward her mate. She may become more territorial and protective of food and continue lining and preparing a nesting box.
The lovebird will likely start laying eggs within 4-6 days of mating.
How Many Eggs Do Lovebirds Lay at a Time?
The average clutch of eggs for a lovebird is 4 to 6. The lovebird won’t lay all her eggs at once; most lay eggs roughly every other day until done.
If the eggs are fertile, both parents will likely take turns sitting on them, occasionally breaking away to play, exercise, eat, and drink water.
If the lovebirds don’t pay attention, their eggs may be unfertilized. You can check if an egg contains an embryo by ‘candling’ it.
A few days after the egg has hatched, hold it around 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 an embryo.
Unfertilized eggs will have a yellow yolk but no spider-like veins.
How Can I Keep Lovebird Embryos Alive?
Lovebird eggs usually take 18-24 days to hatch. If the egg hasn’t hatched after 28 days, it’s unlikely that the embryo survived and evolved into a healthy chick.
Common causes of embryo mortality in lovebirds include:
- Illness in one or both parents or spread from one embryo to others nearby.
- Poor diet in the hen leads to soft and misshapen shells.
- Unstable temperature, especially a lack of heat after laying or excess heat before hatching.
- Impact on the egg, such as rolling out of a nesting box.
- Unsanitary conditions lead to bacterial infection.
- Lack of ventilation or humidity makes it impossible for the chick to breathe.
- Tough eggshells that can’t be cracked, limiting oxygen intake.
Not all the lovebird’s eggs will hatch, so birds lay multiple eggs per clutch during the mating session.
If you buy an incubator, the eggs have a better chance of survival, especially if the hen is inexperienced.
Why Aren’t My Lovebirds Breeding?
If the lovebirds aren’t successfully mating and producing fertilized eggs, you’ll need to understand why. Common lovebird breeding problems include:
- One or both of the lovebirds has been incorrectly sexed.
- One or both of the lovebirds is infertile.
- The chosen pairing can’t or won’t bond.
- Rejection of a mate. As per The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, while lovebirds are usually monogamous, a new bird’s song can pique interest.
Any lovebird could lay an unhealthy or unfertilized egg, but if the entire clutch is affected, have the breeding lovebird assessed by a vet to ensure it’s free from long-term health concerns.