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are lovebirds better in pairs?

Is It Better To Have One or Two Lovebirds?

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Lovebirds (Agapornis) get their name from the intense, lasting bonds they form with each other. It’s common for paired lovebirds to mate for life, so we assume they must live in pairs to flourish.

While it’s true that a pair of bonded lovebirds provide each other with companionship and enrichment, one lovebird can live alone. However, a lone pet lovebird needs more attention from its owner.

It’s better to keep one bird than to force two incompatible lovebirds together. Lovebirds can be territorial and aggressive toward birds of the same species they dislike.

Considerations of Pairing Up Lovebirds

Here are the pros and cons of pairing lovebirds:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
This appeals to the social nature of lovebirds, so they’ll keep each other company.Two lovebirds are more expensive – you’ll need a bigger cage, twice the food, more toys, and face higher vet bills.
Opposite-sex bonded pairs will likely mate during the breeding season, resulting in more responsibility.Opposite-sex bonded pairs will likely mate during the breeding season, resulting in more responsibility.
Paired, contented lovebirds create a joyful home filled with chatter and song.Opposite-sex bonded pairs are likely to mate during the breeding season, resulting in more responsibility.
If a lovebird grows unwell, it won’t make other pet birds sick.A lovebird living alone may consider a human owner to be its mate, leading to unwanted behaviors.

Lovebirds in Opposite Sex Pairs

Keeping a male and a female lovebird together is the best combination. However, it increases the likelihood of breeding, which may not be what you want.

Male or Female Lovebird

It can be challenging to determine a lovebird’s sex without a DNA test, so it’s common for them to be housed in opposite-sex pairs.

The following factors may enable you to determine the gender of lovebirds:

  • Male lovebirds adopt a posture that makes them look slightly larger than females.
  • Female lovebirds have slightly rounder heads than males.
  • Male lovebirds sometimes have a smaller, narrower beak than females.
  • If the lovebird has an eye ring, this will often be thicker in females.

The eye test only determines whether a lovebird is male or female and is never an exact science. If you’re concerned, DNA tests are widely available and provide a conclusive answer.

If a pair of lovebirds have bonded, it’s inadvisable to separate them, regardless of their sex.

Two Female Lovebirds Together

Pairs of female lovebirds can bond if paired from a young age. Be mindful of this living arrangement because females can be more territorial than males.

Conflict can arise when one or both lovebirds experience hormones during the mating season.

Two Male Lovebirds Together

You can help two male lovebirds bond by housing them together from a young age. Two males are likelier to maintain a lifelong bond than two females, although hostility can occur.

Signs Two Lovebirds Are Happy

Bonded lovebirds who enjoy each other’s company form a joyful union that can last a lifetime. However, if they don’t get along, their forced cohabitation can lead to bullying and stress.

It’s essential that lovebirds are happy when sharing a cage. Signs of contentment include:

  • Sharing perches – bonded lovebirds are often inseparable.
  • Chattering and singing regularly or clicking the tongue.
  • Activity in the cage, frequently flying and switching perches.
  • Eating and hydrating regularly.
  • Sharing food resources and feeding each other.
  • Allogrooming and preening can resemble kissing.

If the lovebirds don’t behave this way, consider if they’d be better off living apart.

can you put different types of lovebirds together?

Lovebirds Can Survive Without A Partner

A common myth surrounding lovebirds is that if one bird from a bonded pair dies, the other will experience the same fate.

The answer to the question, “Do lovebirds die when alone?” is no, unless it’s due to a fatal disease.

Despite this, a bereaved lovebird that loses a mate shows signs of mourning and depression. The surviving bird may become more vocal, lose its appetite, and search for its missing companion.

Be patient with a solo lovebird and spend more time together. The Manual of Exotic Pet Practice explains that solo lovebirds should be petted and handled to maintain a bond with their human owners.

Only Having One Lovebird Consequences

If you only have one lovebird, it may see you as its companion. Dedicate time to socializing and bonding with the lovebird while maintaining appropriate boundaries.

Take the time to check in on the lovebird several times a day, letting the bird out of its cage and allowing it to fly free and explore its surroundings. The lovebird will also perch on your shoulder and nuzzle against you frequently, so you’ll likely form a strong bond.

Be mindful of signs that the lovebird is growing sexually attracted to you and sees you as its mate. This can occur in parrots that become overly dependent on human caregivers.

Warning behaviors that your lovebird wishes to mate with you include:

  • Growing increasingly jealous and possessive of your time and affection.
  • Preening and posturing when you enter a room.
  • Regurgitating food in your presence.
  • Dropping wings, trembling, and begging for food.
  • Lift or rub the vent during petting or grip your thumb as though attempting to mount.

If the lovebird displays these behaviors, walk the line between re-establishing boundaries without harming your bond. Minimize physical interaction and return your lovebird to its cage, speaking calmly and continuing to spend time with the bird from a distance.

Lovebirds can learn that actions related to mating and breeding toward humans are unwelcome. If you show patience, you can return to a safe and appropriate relationship and behavior.

should I get one or two lovebirds?

Lovebirds Do Get Lonely

As social animals used to living in pairs or groups, lovebirds can grow lonely if forced to live alone. This is especially likely if your lovebird formerly lived with conspecifics and finds itself living alone unexpectedly.

Warning signs that your lovebird is lonely include:

  • Displays of aggression suggest the lovebird is stressed or anxious.
  • Depressed demeanor, such as lethargy and disinterest in play.
  • Refusal to eat leads to weight loss and potential malnutrition.
  • Becoming increasingly vocal and demanding human attention.
  • According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, feather plucking is a neurological concern.

If you notice these actions and behaviors, get a second lovebird for company.

How Long Lovebirds Can Be Left Alone

If you keep lovebirds in pairs of groups, they can be left alone for longer if their basic needs are met. Ensure the lovebirds have toys, food, and water in their cage, and they’ll keep each other company.

This doesn’t mean that pairs or groups of lovebirds can be left alone indefinitely because no birdcage should be left unattended for longer than 12 hours unless its occupants are asleep.

The lovebirds will still need time outside the cage to exercise and explore planning a vacation.

Don’t leave the lovebirds home alone and expect them to fend for themselves. Find somebody willing to take the birds in for your time away.

If you live alone, it’s inadvisable to keep just one lovebird. A solo bird will require company every few hours, so a day at work or running errands may leave the bird devoid of companionship for too long.

If you find yourself in this situation – perhaps because one lovebird has died, leaving a survivor behind – encourage a friend, family member, or neighbor to bond with the lovebird and check in on it at least once while you’re away, offering petting, food, and company.

Lovebirds are happiest living in bonded pairs. Keeping one lovebird is preferable to forcing two lovebirds who dislike each other to share a space.