Lovebird Care Sheet
Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.
Lovebirds are curious, energetic, charming birds originating from Africa. Although they are small, they are part of the parrot family. They are named for the close bonds they form with each other. Due to their desire to bond in this way, they are best kept as pets in pairs. There are nine species of lovebirds, including "eye-ring" species, which have a white ring around their eyes (such as the black-masked and Fischer’s lovebirds), and those without an eye ring, such as peach-faced lovebirds.
Typical lovebird appearance and behavior
- Lovebirds come in combinations of bright colors, including green, blue, orange, red, and yellow
- They have been bred as pets to have many color mutations
- Lovebirds are typically 5–7” long (from head to tail tip) with short, blunted tails (unlike similar-sized budgerigars, which have long, tapered tails)
- They must be handled and interacted with daily to socialize, or they can be stubborn and assertive
- Single lovebirds may bond best with pet parents but generally prefer to be kept in pairs
- They must be provided with safe toys to gnaw on to satisfy their desire to chew
- Lovebirds may be territorial and sometimes cage-protective if not socialized properly
- They have a unique chatter and a naturally loud call; they sing and whistle to each other
- Lovebirds must have a variety of toys, including foraging toys, to provide mental stimulation and combat self-destructive behaviors (such as feather-plucking and skin mutilation) as a result of boredom
|Average Life Span||15+ years with proper care|
|Average adult size||5–7 inches long, from head to end of tail|
|Minimum habitat size||18” W x 18” D x 24” H for a single lovebird|
Provide a habitat as large as possible for your lovebird pair. The minimum habitat size for a single lovebird is approximately 24" W x 18" D x 24" H with habitat bars spaced no more than 3/8" apart so that their heads and limbs do not get caught; a habitat large enough for flight is ideal.
Building your habitat
Lovebirds acclimate well to average household temperatures (not to drop below 65°F or to exceed 80°F); be cautious of extreme temperature changes. The habitat should lock securely and be kept off the floor in a well-lit area away from drafts and safe from overly inquisitive or predatory pets such as cats and dogs. Ensure no habitat parts or toys contain lead, zinc, other potentially toxic heavy metals, lead-based paints or galvanized parts, as these can cause serious medical problems if birds ingest them
- Accessories - Perches should be 1/2" in diameter and provide enough room for birds to perch comfortably; a variety of perches of different diameters helps prevent pressure sores from developing on the soles of their feet. Sandpaper covers on perches are abrasive to the bottoms of feet and are not recommended; however, one concrete perch amongst various other perches in a habitat can help keep nails in shape
- Bedding - A metal grate over the droppings tray will enable droppings to fall away from the bird’s feet and keep the habitat cleaner; the tray in the habitat bottom should be lined with habitat paper or other paper-based substrate to ease cleanup and minimize dust exposure. To avoid contaminating food dishes with droppings, do not place food or water containers directly under perches
- Food and water dishes - Provide separate dishes for dry food, fresh food and water; if housing a pair of lovebirds, provide more than one feeding station to reduce competition
- Water dishes should be large enough for birds to bathe in; birds who don’t bathe regularly can be misted gently with warm water from a plant mister a few times a week to help maintain a healthy plumage
- Toys –
- Birds are intelligent, so they need to be able to forage for food and other objects, as well as to play with and chew on toys for enrichment and psychological stimulation. Regularly rotate a variety of toys to prevent boredom; without objects to interact with, lovebirds notoriously chew their feathers and mutilate their own skin
- A play gym will allow your lovebirds time outside of their habitat to exercise, keeping them physically stimulated and providing for their social health
- Lighting - Birds need exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light to make vitamin D in their skin, which enables them to absorb dietary calcium. UV light is filtered out by glass in windows, so placing the habitat next to a window is not sufficient; UV lights designed specifically for birds should shine on the habitat 10–12 hours per day and be changed every six months as their potency wanes
Replace perches, dishes, and toys when worn or damaged; rotate new toys into the habitat regularly.
What to feed your lovebird
A well-balanced lovebird diet consists of:
- Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specifically formulated for parrots for about 60-70% of diet, plus fresh vegetables, fruits, treats and small amounts of fortified seeds as an occasional treat
- Clean, fresh water, changed daily
Do not feed birds avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol, as these are toxic and can cause illness and death. Avoid high-salt and high-fat treats.
Things to remember when feeding your lovebird:
- If feeding a pelleted diet specifically formulated for parrots, additional vitamins and supplements are not needed; caution should be taken to avoid over-supplementation
- Fresh food and water should always be available
- Vegetables and fruits not eaten within 10 hours should be discarded
- Treats should not exceed 10% of total food intake
- Although birds are social and like to eat when their flock-mates eat, never share food from your plate or your mouth with them; people have microorganisms in their mouths that can cause serious illness in birds
- Because parrots remove the hulls of seeds before eating them, they do not need to be fed grit or gravel to grind up food
Bird pet parents should avoid nonstick cookware and appliances, which can release colorless, odorless fumes when heated that typically kill birds once they inhale them.
- Birds need regular grooming, including nail trimming every few weeks to months; nails should be trimmed by a qualified person to prevent injury to the bird
- Beaks should not need regular trimming in most birds, unless they have an underlying condition (such as liver disease) that causes abnormal beak growth. Birds’ beaks normally wear down with daily use; however, the use of a mineral cake or cuttlebone can help keep your lovebird’s beak in good shape
- When done correctly, clipping the outermost five flight feathers can help prevent injury or escape; consult an avian veterinarian on what is best for your bird
Where to buy
Petco does not sell lovebirds. Check your local bird rescue for lovebirds looking for their forever home.
- Appropriately sized habitat
- High-quality lovebird food
- Millet spray
- Cuttlebone and mineral cakes
- Cuttlebone/millet holder
- Habitat paper or other paper-based litter
- Food and water dishes
- Variety of perches
- Variety of toys
- Bird bath
- Mister spray bottle
- Nail clippers and styptic powder
- Play gym
Lovebirds can be kept alone to bond with pet parents or in pairs to bond with each other. Lovebirds are known to pair-bond closely with their mates. Different types of birds should not be housed together.
- Active, alert and sociable
- Eats, drinks and passes stool throughout the day
- Dry nares and bright, dry eyes
- Supple skin on feet and legs and smooth beak
- Clean, dry vent
- Smooth, well-groomed feathers
Red flags (if you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian)
- Fluffed, plucked or soiled feathers
- Sitting on floor of habitat for an extended period
- Wheezing, sneezing or coughing
- Open-mouthed or labored breathing and/or tail-bobbing
- Regurgitation or vomiting
- Runny, bloody or discolored stools or no stool production
- Straining to pass droppings
- Favoring one foot when not sleeping
- Ocular or nasal discharge
- Red or swollen eyes
- Crusty skin around face and feet
- Persistently closed eyes or sleeping during the day
- Loss of appetite
Common lovebird health issues
|Health Issue||Symptoms or Causes||Suggested Action|
|Health Issue Psittacosis/chlamydiosis||Symptoms or Causes Appetite loss, fluffed feathers, nasal discharge, lime green feces, swollen abdomen, respiratory difficulty and conjunctivitis||Suggested Action Seek immediate avian veterinary attention.|
|Health Issue Diarrhea||Symptoms or Causes Fecal portion of stool (versus solid white urine portion or clear liquid urine) is not formed; has multiple causes, from diet change to bacterial or viral infection to internal parasites||Suggested Action Consult a veterinarian; ensure proper diet|
|Health Issue Feather plucking||Symptoms or Causes Bird plucks own feathers; may be due to boredom, stress, poor diet or other underlying illnesses||Suggested Action Consult a veterinarian; relieve boredom with attention, new toys, more stimulation|
|Health Issue Egg-binding||Symptoms or Causes Swollen abdomen, difficulty breathing, straining to pass stool or bloody droppings||Suggested Action Seek immediate avian veterinary attention|
|Health Issue Psittacine beak and feather disease||Symptoms or Causes Abnormal feather color, feather loss or beak deformities||Suggested Action Seek immediate avian veterinary attention|
- How long do lovebirds live? Lovebirds can live 15+ years with proper care.
- Can lovebirds talk? While lovebirds do not typically speak in a language we can understand, they are very chatty birds who communicate readily with each other.
- What do lovebirds eat? Nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food specifically formulated for parrots should make up 60–70% of their diet, plus fresh water, vegetables, fruits, treats and small amounts of fortified seeds as an occasional treat.
- How do you train lovebirds? Birds are motivated to perform certain behaviors (such as stepping onto a hand) by rewarding them with food. Training the “step up” starts with getting a bird to trust the sight of a hand by offering small treats (not available at any other time) from your hand—first through the bars of the habitat, then from your hand as the bird stands at the habitat’s open door and eventually in the palm of your hand, so that the bird has to step onto your hand to get the treat. Eventually, the bird sees a hand and steps up readily onto it in anticipation of the treat.
- How do I care for lovebirds? Lovebirds need a safe, securely locked habitat, a nutritionally complete pelleted diet, fresh water daily, toys and other stimulation in their habitat, and daily interaction and handling. They also need a bowl to bathe in or a mister to be sprayed with, as well as regular veterinary checkups to help them stay healthy.
- Can lovebirds eat strawberries? Strawberries are a safe and typically well-loved food for lovebirds, as long as they are offered in addition to a base diet of nutritionally complete and balanced pellets
- How big do lovebirds get? Lovebirds are typically 5–7” long, from head to tail tip.
- How many eggs do lovebirds lay? Lovebirds lay one egg at a time but can lay several successively, typically every other day. Many lay 2–6 in a clutch (in succession).
- Can lovebirds live alone? Lovebirds who live alone typically bond more closely with their pet parents and need a lot of time outside of their habitat, versus those who live with other lovebirds. Lovebirds generally enjoy living in opposite-sex pairs.
- Can lovebirds eat grapes? Grapes are a safe and typically well-loved food for lovebirds, as long as they are offered in addition to a base diet of nutritionally complete and balanced pellets.
- Is a lovebird a parrot? Yes, lovebirds are parrots.
Additional care sheets
Notes and resources
Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.
Because all lovebirds are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as chlamydiosis, always wash your hands before and after handling your lovebird and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases. Work with your avian veterinarian on protocols to treat your bird should the bird contract Chlamydiosis.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing and/or caring for a lovebird and should consider having a pet other than a lovebird.
Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about lovebirds and disease.
Note: The information in this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.