Lovebirds

With February’s favorite Hallmark holiday right around the corner, couples everywhere are gearing up for a fun-filled Valentine’s Day with their special someone. Fancy candlelight dinners, romantic weekend getaways, bouquets of expensive flowers – the craftiest and most romantic gift ideas are slowly being crossed off to-do lists everywhere in preparation for the feel-good day. Thinking about gifting your sweetheart something new and exciting this holiday? Try a lovebird!

Lovebirds are a species of a parrots, and have been thought of as a Valentine’s Day mascot for centuries. According to a Smithsonian Science Magazine article on lovebirds written by Helen Thompson, scholars often cite the “Parliament of Foules” – a poem crafted by Geoffrey Chaucer - as the first evidence of the connection between the religious celebration of Saint Valentine and romantic love. The poem features two birds demonstrating traits of affection directly similar to human love, much like how lovebirds act towards each other.

The Lafeber Veterinarian Company’s webpage on lovebirds cites that these lovely creatures originate in Africa, and are native to Madagascar and Sub-Saharan Africa. Lafeber’s webpage goes on to say that they can also be found in the American southwest and San Francisco. In total, there are nine species of lovebirds, and are considered the smallest species of parrot at around five to seven inches long. Peach-faced and exotically bright, lovebirds are considered a favorite by bird enthusiasts and pet owners alike.

One of the most striking characteristics of lovebirds is that they mate with the same partner for life, making them the perfect talisman for the holiday that celebrates love. Thompson’s Smithsonian article states that lovebirds are monogamous, and are known for being completely infatuated with their mates for their 15+ year lifespan. If separated from or if their mate dies, lovebirds exhibit depression-like behavior. These heartbroken birds audibly pine for their lovers, and tend to completely ignore any other forms of interaction with humans and animals if they have their mate by their side. However, if lovebirds reunite with their partner after a period of separation, they feed each other as a way to re-establish their former bond (Thompson, 2014).

Known for being extremely active, lovebirds need at least an hour or so of active exercise out of their cage a day – Petco’s official webpage on lovebirds deem this as vital when owning a lovebird. According to Petco, lack of exercise can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite and self-mutilation, including plucking at their feathers (similar to if they lose their loved one). These intelligent birds are very inquisitive and always on the go, but they aren’t big talkers. They converse with their partners and sometimes with other lovebirds in proximity, but Lafeber Company’s webpage says they very rarely “talk” to their human friends. Contrary to popular belief, lovebirds DO NOT eat chocolate; Thompson’s Smithsonian article states that lovebirds keep their diet strictly to berries, seeds, fruit and insect larva if living in the wild.

On the topic of popular beliefs proven otherwise, many say it is better to own lovebirds in pairs, although this is not necessarily true. Lafeber Company’s website articulates that if lovebirds have a mate, they tend to ignore, if not completely disregard, their human owners altogether, and devote all of their love and attention to their partner. This may not bode well with pet owners who want actual interaction and affection with their bird counterparts!

According to Petco, as friendly and fun as lovebirds can be, they can also be mean and aggressive, especially if they have a mate to protect. This makes them very territorial and they don’t usually get along with other species. They also show signs of jealousy and can be overly hormonal during mating season. Single lovebirds, on the other hand, tend to show less of these signs.

Prices for lovebirds range anywhere from $45 to $200, and are available at the The Bird Supply of New Hampshire in Nashua.

Unfortunately, due to years of climate change, causing droughts across Africa, Lafeber’s webpage explains that some species of lovebirds might become endangered within the next decade. The black-cheeked lovebird is listed as the most endangered, with around 10,000 in total (Lafeber Company, 2020). If gifting a lovebird isn’t in the cards this year, donate to the African Wildlife Foundation instead this Valentine’s Day to help keep these striking and delightful birds off the Endangered Species list!