Lovebird Courtship and Mating: What We Learned
Lovebirds in Love
Sometimes, lovebirds don't end up as mates even though they are bound to be "in love" at some time or another. I am lucky as my birds ended up as mates, even when there wasn't any scope of friendship between them.
In this article, we will address the following major topics (based on my personal experience):
- Courtship in Lovebirds
- Mating Ritual
- What Do Lovebird Mates Do?
- Jealousy in Pets
- What Happens When You Bring a New Bird (Mate) Home?
- Lovebird Personalities (Fun Facts About My Pets)
Meet Lulu (Female, Left) and Mumu (Male, Right)
Courtship in Lovebirds
How my pets ended up as mates will be explained later. First, let's see what courtship and mating are. After we came back from India, we noticed that Mulu (their ship name) were closer than before. They weren't enemies anymore. They were friends; in fact, we felt they were going to become more than friends. Here are the tell-tale signs of courtship/attracting a mate:
This is the first sign of courtship in lovebirds. The male tries to attract/woo the female by regurgitating (bringing swallowed food up again to the mouth) and feeding her. This begins when the male bobs his head up and down to bring back food from his crop.
Mumu fed Lulu many times to win her trust and attraction. She refused to eat from his mouth at the beginning, but she approved and asked to be fed later on. This feeding continues rigorously when the female gets pregnant and lays eggs and also when their chicks are born.
When the male feeds the female rigorously, make sure to provide healthy nutritious foods like corn, whole wheat bread, egg white and yolk (once a month in small amounts); and eggshell bits as calcium supplements, fresh/dried spinach leaves (according to your bird's taste) and lots of fresh water.
Mumu Feeding Lulu by Regurgitation
Regurgitation Is the First Step of Courtship in Lovebirds
When your birds remain close together and you feel like they are stuck together like glue (well it just puts together what I want to say), it means they are soon to be mates.
The Obvious Proximity Between Lovebirds (Onto Becoming Mates)
Preening Each Other
Lovebirds preen (clean their feathers) each other all the time. This means they will become mates soon. They look so sweet while doing this. It is the best sight to watch (according to me).
Mumu initiated preening Lulu. At first, she didn't respond back by preening him. He urged her to preen him by pressing his head in her stomach. It took a while and lot of effort from him to win her over. Their love is so strong now. Roles are reversed, she preens him most of the time now! It's so endearing to watch this behavior.
Mulu Preening Each OtherClick thumbnail to view full-size
When you see your female lovebird shredding paper into long strips with her beak and putting them in her back, she is displaying nesting behavior. It means she is ready for mating and is practicing nest making! However, this activity can be part of her entertainment too.
Tip: You aren't sure about the gender of your lovebird, but don't want to do a DNA test. How to know it's gender then? When your bird displays the nesting behavior mentioned above, you can be sure it's a female. This is because even though males try to imitate this, they remain unsuccessful. (My male bird can just tear bits, he can't make strips!) However, there can be exceptions.
Nesting Behavior Exhibited!Click thumbnail to view full-size
The male lovebird makes sounds like "click", "click" with his beak and moves around the female. He puts his foot on her wings and grabs them for climbing on her back. The female opens her wings to balance his weight. Then, mating follows. This process is repeated several times a day. Eggs are laid within 5-7 days post mating, with each being laid in a gap of 1-2 days (there can be exceptions/delays).
Lovebirds Making Love!
What Do Lovebird Mates Do?
So your lovebirds are now mates. What do they do together? Read on and find out...
When your birds eat together, it means they are acknowledging each other's presence and are spending their time together.
Mulu play together a lot. I have a bag of chewy toys for them, with trinkets and beads. They also love shredding paper. By copying Lulu, Mumu has learnt how to put a paper bit in his tail! (He is unsuccessful most of the time.) Yeah, a great accomplishment! He tries this when given dried palm leaves too.
Toys and Paper Strips
I Can Do That, Too!
This doesn't happen most of the time, but sometimes Mulu bath together. When Mumu begins bathing, Lulu follows him and starts bathing too. They look so cute while doing this.
Let's Get Clean
It's So Cold! Let's Dry Ourselves
Mulu Preening Each Other After Bathing
Reason for Buying the New Bird Lulu
We planned to go to India for a small vacation. We were very worried about Mumu. So, to give him company, we bought Lulu. We were lucky, as it is very hard to get single lovebirds. Thanks to Mr. Jafar; a man who previously worked in a pet shop, as he decided to keep Mumu and Lulu in his house for 3 weeks. Both were kept in safe hands and their bonding grew considerably. Well, coming back to the beginning, we hoped they would bond with each other, as soon as they would be together for the first time. But we were wrong...
Never put a new bird in the same cage as your pet bird. It could lead to fighting, which could cause injuries. Keep them in separate cages. There must always be supervision when they are let out of their cages.
Jealousy in Pets
Mumu was shocked, well not just shocked, jealous too. I had never been bitten my him before, until Lulu came. He hated the fact that she was getting our attention. But, we never gave her more attention than him, as we knew he was jealous. We kept both of them in separate cages, which were placed side by side. Doing this ensured two things; they couldn't fight and they could watch each other, which would probably help in making them friends.
Pet Birds Can Get Jealous, Too!
A pet bird does not understand why another bird has entered the house; he/she only knows that someone else is getting your attention. He/She might even bite you out of jealousy. Be extra sensitive to his/her strong feelings.
How? Give more attention to your first pet. Do not ignore him/her by giving all your attention and love to the new bird. Always talk to your pet bird calmly. Try to reassure him/her by giving a head scratch, a treat or a new toy. This would help in reducing the jealousy.
Let's Take the Jealousy Poll!
Have you ever seen your pet being jealous?
What Happens When You Bring a New Bird (Mate) Home?
When Mulu were together, the following things happened:
- He would always approach her, would scream at her, or try to intimidate her. But she never got scared by him. She stayed her cool and calm self.
Mumu Intimidating Lulu
- He tried to move her away when she sat on our knees or shoulders. But she would never budge. Way to go, girl!
- They always fought over the same piece of toy. Though there were many toys to play with, they would try to snatch each other's toys. Even if there would be two of the same kind! I had to play peacemaker so many times. Phew!
Mulu Fighting Over Sequins
- Both of them just tried to scare each other by trying to fight. They tried to hit each other but didn't; instead it would appear as if they are trying to make each other back off with their beaks.
Playing and Fighting Too! (Ignore the Mess, We Were Packing...)
Some Fun Facts About My Pets!
Lovebirds are of different personalities, just like humans! Each bird is unique and special in his/her own way. Mumu and Lulu are complete opposites, yet they are mates. I have mentioned some fun facts about my pets below. Enjoy reading!
The "Rainbow Sorbet" Mumu
Bio Data of Mumu
- Name: Mumu (in the memory of my granny who called my sister by this pet name.)
- Sex: Male
- Date of Birth: Three weeks old baby when bought on 12 March 2016.
- Species: Medium green heavy-pied peach faced lovebird.
- Personality: Package of curiosity, aggression and a happy-go-lucky nature rolled in one.
- Unique abilities: Can clearly speak "Step up" and "Come here". Understands emotions and screams angrily (if we scold him).
- Routine: Follow us around the house and pokes his "nose" in all our matters.
- Nicknames: "Chaplu" (meaning nosy in our native language), "Kalejo" (meaning the apple of an eye in our native language) and Softy Pie.
- Likes: Playing outside all day, getting lots of attention, head scratches, kisses and listening to Blank Space (Thank you Taylor Swift, my bird gets sleepy, while listening to your song! It acts like a lullaby for him), sung by my sister and me.
- Dislikes: Going back inside the cage and when we touch his stuff (seeds, toys, and his cage).
- Most loved activity: Chewing toys and chains, banana tips, my mobile's cover (sadly, but I don't allow him) and carpet threads.
- Cause of sadness: When we are away, he needs us around him, all the time. Also, he needs his mate Lulu too.
Mumu Sleeping on My Hand After Listening to Blank Space (Sung by Me!)
The "Cotton Candy" Lulu
Bio Data of Lulu
- Name: Lulu (meaning pearl in Arabic; she is truly the gem personified.)
- Sex: Female
- Date of Birth: Six months old (according to pet shop owner) on 18 July 2016.
- Species: White-Faced violet roseicollis peach faced lovebird.
- Personality: Quiet, reserved and as cool as a cucumber. She doesn't take any matter to heart and is very calm and composed.
- Unique abilities: Puts her whole face inside the water bowl sprinkling droplets upon herself and then pushes it against the cage bars, to let water fall on her body. She can untie the nylon thread which locks the cage door and escape away. She can also open the closed cage door and get inside easily. Pretty smart for a bird, I must say. She never bites, gets angry or aggressive.
- Routine: Peculiar habit of eating seeds inside her water bowl. Post this, she tries to remove the "mess" with her tongue, drinks the "seedy water" and sprinkles it upon herself. Seeing this I sometimes say, "Hey, I just changed the water now!"
- Nicknames: Snow White, Fur ball and Softy Pie.
- Likes: Sitting and eating from the money plant pot (the plants withered, so we filled the pots with seeds), running her beak through our hair (sometimes) and exploring different designs (of fabrics, carpet and toys.)
- Dislikes: When Mumu is away from her sight and when we try to get too close to her (she needs her personal space too.)
- Most loved activity: Shredding any type of paper and loves tearing cardboard too.
- Cause of sadness: When Mumu stays away from her. So, she calls him loudly, flapping her wings and he appears before her the next second.
Lulu Loves to Eat From Her "Seed Pot"!
Friends, Mates, or Enemies
I would like to end by saying that lovebirds can be friends or mates or enemies too. It isn't necessary that any two lovebirds can end up as mates. I am glad mine did.
Currently, Lulu has laid 9 eggs (squeals) and sits on them. I am waiting to see the new born chicks and speculating what their color might turn out to be. When the chicks will be born, I will surely make another hub about egg laying in lovebirds. Till then, Happy Mating!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Can I change the nesting paper daily and bath the female lovebird? Will it affect the hatching process?
No, it won't affect the hatching process. Both these things will keep your bird healthy.Helpful 1
I have a pair of lovebirds that recently moved inside because of the cold weather. The male has started feeding the female, and the female keeps going inside the nest box. Does this mean they want to breed? If yes, should I put some paper at the bottom of the cage? My lovebirds aren’t tamed, and they've never been to the bottom of the cage.
It can mean they want to breed and even mean that they want warmth (since going inside the nest box gives it). My lovebirds go inside the nest box for warmth, and they mate at the bottom of the cage. Yes, please spread some paper at the bottom of the cage.Helpful 9
My lovebird is not the only bird in-house, but the only lovebird. He/She does the same as Mumu does, but there is no other female lovebird that he/she could try to copy! Does that still mean that my lovebird is probably a male because he can't make strips?
If he regurgitates, it is sure that the lovebird is a male. If your bird can't make strips, it is also another hint.Helpful 1
I am struggling to find out my bird's gender. What is the best way to do this?
It is difficult to determine a lovebird's gender without a DNA test. A female lovebird is slightly heavy, stands with widened legs, lays eggs and makes strips of paper (nesting behavior). Males don't display nesting behavior, they regurgitate (bob their heads up and down to bring up food) and feed the females.Helpful 12
My birds are inseparable but they just don't want to mate. How can I encourage them?
Mating comes naturally between two birds. Being inseparable is a very good sign. Give them time.Helpful 8
© 2016 Sakina Nasir