Lovebirds are among the most popular pet parrot species due to their beautiful colors and diminutive size. However, you need to spend several hours a day socializing, entertaining, and playing together to keep them happy.
A single lovebird needs to spend 2-4 hours of one-on-one time with you per day. You can spend this time playing together, petting, talking, and singing. You can even walk around with your lovebird perched on your shoulder. A lack of attention puts lovebirds at risk of loneliness, depression, and destructive behaviors.
A pair of bonded lovebirds will meet each other’s social needs. So, if you’re concerned that your pet lovebird might struggle as a lone bird, getting a second lovebird will be highly beneficial.
Do Lovebirds Need a Lot of Attention?
Lovebirds (Agapornis) are popular parrots to keep as pets. They’re small birds, reaching a maximum length of 7 inches and requiring only 18 x 18 x 24 of cage space. Lovebirds are affectionate towards humans and easy to tame.
One aspect of keeping lovebirds that may seem daunting at first is how much attention they need. Lovebirds are social parrots, thriving on interaction with their owner and with other birds.
The ideal companion for a lovebird is another lovebird. Their deep devotion towards their mate is how lovebirds got their name. A pair of bonded lovebirds will spend their time preening, feeding, and playing together.
Getting a second lovebird will fulfill your existing bird’s social requirements. A pair of lovebirds will keep each other occupied throughout the day.
You can still play, pet, and talk to your lovebirds as much as you like. However, they won’t need much attention from you to be happy, provided that they’ve got each other’s companionship.
However, a lovebird without a mate can become lonely and depressed. This can have a devastating effect on a lovebird’s mental and physical well-being.
If you have a single lovebird, you’ll need to spend lots of one-on-one time with them.
Do Lovebirds Have to Be in Pairs?
Lovebirds are happiest when they’re part of a bonded pair.
They’re social birds that interact with others of their own species. When they’re not together, they’ll call out to each other over long distances to communicate and keep the flock together.
All lovebird species live in small flocks, which can range in number. According to the University of Michigan, Fischer’s lovebirds live in flocks of 10-20 individual birds.
It’s unnatural for a lovebird to be socially isolated from its own kind. When a wild lovebird’s mate dies, it’ll pine for its mate and show signs of sadness.
The same behaviors are seen in captive lovebirds that are housed alone. That’s why most owners keep lovebirds in pairs or small same-sex groups. Keeping its social needs fulfilled is the easiest way to make a lovebird happy.
That’s not to say that you can’t keep a lovebird alone. However, you must be willing to devote time and attention to it. Lonely lovebirds show signs of poor mental health and can develop unhealthy habits, such as feather picking.
Do Lovebirds Bond with Their Owners?
Lovebirds can form strong bonds with their owners, as do most other species of parrots. However, a lovebird’s bond with a human will never be the same as with another lovebird.
A pair of bonded lovebirds can understand all of each other’s movements, mannerisms, and vocalizations. They can communicate with one another in a way that you and your parrot can’t.
While lovebirds enjoy human company, particularly if they’re hand-reared, they’ll always prefer their own kind. So, if you want to satisfy your lovebird’s need for social interaction, you’ll need to spend lots of time together.
You’ll need to devote several hours each day to your lovebird. The more time you spend with your lovebird, the happier and less lonely it’ll be.
How to Entertain Lovebirds
There are various ways to interact with your lovebird, including:
- Talk together
- Sing songs
- Things to shred
- Foraging opportunities
- Climbing apparatus
- Puzzle feeders
- Shoulder perching
- Chew toys
As long as you’re giving your lovebird attention, it’ll appreciate any interaction with you. If you talk to your bird regularly, it may learn to mimic your speech.
Do Lovebirds Like to Be Handled?
Most lovebirds enjoy moving around on your shoulder or forearm while you walk around the house. However, the question of “do lovebirds like to be held?” depends on how tame your lovebird is and whether it trusts you.
The more time you spend interacting and socializing with your lovebird, the tamer it’ll become. If your lovebird seems reluctant to perch on you at first, don’t force it to do so. Never grab your lovebird or attempt to pick it up from above.
A good way to earn your lovebird’s trust is to start by feeding them out of your hand. Place some treats onto your palm and place your hand flat on a surface. Your lovebird will perch on your wrist while eating.
Once your lovebird is used to perching on your wrist, you can train them to hop from one hand to another. Slowly increase the distance between your hands until they’re flying from one to the other. This is a fun game that most lovebirds enjoy.
Do Lovebirds Like to Be Petted?
Petting is akin to grooming – when a pair of lovebirds preen each other with their beaks.
For this reason, it’s important not to pet your lovebird in the wrong places. Otherwise, you may inadvertently stimulate its mating response.
You can safely pet your lovebird on its:
Never stroke your lovebird on its back, on or under its wings, or tail region. These areas are only groomed by a lovebird’s mate (sexual partner).
How Much Time Should You Spend with Your Lovebird?
The smallest amount of time you should spend interacting one-on-one with your lovebird is 2 hours per day. However, this is the bare minimum. Ideally, this figure should be closer to 3-4 hours per day and longer if you’re home all day.
Give your lovebird at least 1 hour of one-on-one time in the morning before you leave for work or school. You should be able to fit in another hour before dinnertime and 2-3 hours after dinner.
Ideally, your lovebird should spend at least 4-6 hours outside of its cage during the day. Many owners let their birds free-roam constantly in a parrot-proofed room when they’re home.
How Long Can Lovebirds Be Left Alone?
Work commitments mean that we have to leave our homes for several hours at a time. If you’ve got a busy lifestyle, you may wonder how long lovebirds can be left alone.
A pair or group of lovebirds won’t mind being left alone when you’re at work or school. That’s because they’ll have each other for company, entertainment, and social interaction.
To stave off boredom, set your lovebirds up in a large cage. There should be room for your lovebirds to fly around inside. Provide them with three perches, climbing apparatus, foraging opportunities, and toys.
A single lovebird shouldn’t regularly be left on its own for longer than a few hours. It’ll get lonely without anyone to interact with. This may result in stress and associated mental or physical health problems.
Lovebirds shouldn’t be left alone for longer than 12 hours, whether they’re single or in a pair. If you need to leave your lovebirds for longer, ask a friend to look after them. Ideally, pick someone who your lovebirds know and trust.
Do Lovebirds Die When Alone?
Because lovebirds are social birds, being left alone for extended periods of time can be stressful. Prolonged loneliness and stress can trigger depression and anxiety.
These mental health conditions may result in:
- Lack of curiosity or interest
- Aggression and biting
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Stereotypical behaviors (e.g. pacing, toe-tapping, head swinging)
- Self-mutilation. According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, this could include feather-damaging behavior
If your lovebird is showing the above symptoms, it may be lonely. The rumor that lovebirds can die of loneliness or a broken heart is a myth. However, it’s still not good for the lovebird’s health to be left alone for too long.
Getting a second lovebird is the best way to resolve your parrot’s loneliness. If this isn’t possible, dedicate time to petting, talking, and interacting with your lovebird. This should be for a minimum of 2 hours per day.