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Lovebird Courtship and Mating: Breeding, Nesting, Behavior, and More

Sakina loves birds and has had pet parrots and budgies. Now she has two lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male she hand-raised.

Picture showing a peach-faced male lovebird, Mumu [right] with his mate Lulu [left] who is a white-faced violet roseicollis peach-faced female lovebird.

Picture showing a peach-faced male lovebird, Mumu [right] with his mate Lulu [left] who is a white-faced violet roseicollis peach-faced female lovebird.

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 guarantee they'd bond.

In this article, we will address the following major topics (based on my personal experience):

  • Lovebirds' courtship
  • Mating rituals
  • What do lovebird mates do?
  • Jealousy
  • What happens when you bring a new bird home?
  • Lovebird personalities (fun facts about my pets)
Male lovebird named Mumu feeding female lovebird names Lulu by regurgitation. This is the first sign of courtship.

Male lovebird named Mumu feeding female lovebird names Lulu by regurgitation. This is the first sign of courtship.

Courtship in Lovebirds

At first, Mulu and Lulu were enemies. But after we took a trip, they became friends; in fact, they became more than friends. How my pets ended up as mates will be explained later.

First, let's see what courtship and mating are. Here are the tell-tale signs of courtship and how a lovebird goes about attracting a mate:

Regurgitation

This is the first sign of courtship in lovebirds. The male tries to attract and woo the female by regurgitating (bringing swallowed food up again into the mouth) and feeding her. This begins when the male bobs his head up and down to bring back food from his crop. This feeding continues rigorously when the female gets pregnant and lays eggs and also when their chicks are born.

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.

Tip

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.

Regurgitation Is the First Step of Courtship in Lovebirds

Closeness

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.

Picture depicting the closeness of two lovebird mates. The male named Mumu is building proximity with his mate Lulu.

Picture depicting the closeness of two lovebird mates. The male named Mumu is building proximity with his mate Lulu.

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.

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Nesting Behavior

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.

The Mating Ritual

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).

What Do Lovebird Mates Do?

So your lovebirds are now mates. What do they do together? Read on and find out...

They Eat Together

When your birds eat together, it means they are acknowledging each other's presence and are spending their time together.

Two lovebird mates eating seeds together from a money plant pot.

Two lovebird mates eating seeds together from a money plant pot.

They Play 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.

Lovebird mates playing together.

Lovebird mates playing together.

They Bathe Together

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.

Lovebirds drying themselves by preening after taking a bath.

Lovebirds drying themselves by preening after taking a bath.

Our 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.

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.

Let's Take the Jealousy Poll!

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.
  • 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!
  • 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.

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!

Picture showing an adorable medium green heavy pied peach-faced lovebird, named Mumu. The color is a mutation. The body is yellow with tinges of green, wings a mix of yellow with green spots, while the tail is a bright blue.

Picture showing an adorable medium green heavy pied peach-faced lovebird, named Mumu. The color is a mutation. The body is yellow with tinges of green, wings a mix of yellow with green spots, while the tail is a bright blue.

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.
Cute peach faced lovebird named Mumu sleeping on my hand.

Cute peach faced lovebird named Mumu sleeping on my hand.

Picture showing an adorable white-faced voilet roseicollis peach faced lovebird, named Lulu. The mutation is sex-linked. The face and chest are white, while the rest of the body is deep violet. The wings are violet with streaks of grey color.

Picture showing an adorable white-faced voilet roseicollis peach faced lovebird, named Lulu. The mutation is sex-linked. The face and chest are white, while the rest of the body is deep violet. The wings are violet with streaks of grey color.

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.
Female lovebird named Lulu eating seeds from money plant pot. She loves to sprawl and sleep here too!

Female lovebird named Lulu eating seeds from money plant pot. She loves to sprawl and sleep here too!

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 newborn chicks and speculating what their color might turn out to be. When the chicks will be born, I will surely make another article 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

Question: I have two male lovebirds, they came from the same owner, hand raised, however they do not let you hold them. They seem very compatible, have had 2 years, the one displays like he wants to mate but the other will have nothing to do with it. They feed each other, groom each other and are very close to one another. Why is one bird displaying the action of mating and not the other male?

Answer: Sometimes, lovebirds want to be friends and not necessarily mate with their friends. Sometimes, they don't like each other, at times they mate immediately or over time. I'd suggest getting 2 female lovebirds for these two males and see what happens.

Question: Is it possible for a male lovebird to regurgitate food to another male? And preening each other's feathers too?

Answer: It is possible for a male lovebird to regurgitate to another male. But the male who is at the receiving end would be a female (in case he/she is accepting the food).

Question: I have a single male lovebird. He recently started regurgitating. How long does this typically last?

Answer: He will regurgitate for almost his whole life, as it's his nature to feed his mate. Please get him a female lovebird.

Question: I am struggling to find out my bird's gender. What is the best way to do this?

Answer: 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.

Question: 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.

Answer: 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.

Question: My birds are inseparable but they just don't want to mate. How can I encourage them?

Answer: Mating comes naturally between two birds. Being inseparable is a very good sign. Give them time.

Question: Does a male lovebird open its tail?

Answer: Lovebirds don't open tails, but they do wag them. That means that they are happy.

Question: My male attracts his partner by opening his wings for mating. Is this possible?

Answer: A copy of the female behavior (opening wings for mating) by the male may sometimes happen. Does your male lovebird continue the mating process (like a female does)?

Question: I have a seven-month-old female budgie, and she displays male mating movements. We believed "she" was a "he" until yesterday when I went to the pet store to get her a friend. We got her a male, and she attempts to mate in a very male fashion. I was guaranteed she's a girl by the vet. Is it common for females to behave like males sometimes?

Answer: No, it's not common. Does your budgie lay eggs yet? If she does, you can be sure she is a female.

Question: I have two lovebirds, one male and one female. They have been mating for two weeks, and the female started laying eggs. So far she has laid two eggs, but the birds are still mating. Is this normal?

Answer: Yes, it's completely normal to mate even after the female lovebird has laid eggs. Mine do the same as well.

Question: My female lovebird recently lost her mate. How do I find her a new partner?

Answer: Visit a local pet store and look out for a cage with many lovebirds. You can ask the shop owner to give you the healthiest male lovebird, but don't separate a lovebird couple.

Question: I have three lovebird babies that are six months old. Should I put the Peachfaced male that mates with his toy rope, in the cage with the babies once they are a year old? Or should I just let him continue to mate with the rope?

Answer: You can put the three lovebirds in a cage. Make sure they like each other's company and aren't fighting.

Question: I got a female lovebird recently, and my male lovebird is already trying to breed her. She is only three months old. Will it hurt her? What should I do?

Answer: How is the female lovebird reacting to it? Three months of age is definitely young, but no, she won't be hurt. If the female is annoyed, she will push the male away.

Question: I have two male lovebirds. I have recently bought a female lovebird home. Why won't they have anything to do with her?

Answer: It takes time for both the new and old lovebirds to get used to changes. Give them time and they will figure out things on their own.

Question: I have two lovebirds. I recently noticed the “female” lovebird had thrown up to the male bird. Is that normal for a female love bird to do?

Answer: Either the "female" lovebird isn't a female, or she's one and is hungry (sometimes, mine asks the male to feed her in this way). The "throwing up" is called regurgitation and is a characteristic of a male lovebird. But it can also be the female copying the male (in rare cases).

Question: My lovebird shows the signs of courtship. The male regurgitates to the female. They preen each other. They had at one point shown nesting behavior. They have been together for a year now. When I see the male try to do the mating ritual, the female doesn’t want to mate. She runs away or tries get the male off of her. How can I help them mate?

Answer: Mating is something which is done only when the lovebirds are comfortable with each other. They need to accept each other. Give them time.

Question: I have two lovebirds who are about two-years-old. They are both male (by DNA) and have always regurgitated on their beds. Recently it has become worrisome because of the amount of exudate. It doesn't seem they are eating enough food to keep up. They do not seem to eat the product. It's messy and worrisome. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Please buy two adult female lovebirds for your male lovebirds. That's the only way the food will be regurgitated to the females instead of messing up their cage. Also, regurgitation is a process in male lovebirds, it cannot be stopped or distracted.

Question: Do female lovebirds do a mating ritual dance?

Answer: No, male lovebirds do a "dance" and click their tongues continously.

Question: Is this possible for female lovebirds to regurgitate to males?

Answer: No, it's not possible.

Question: I have two lovebirds. The one feeds the other. So is the one being fed a female, or could it also be a male?

Answer: The one who feeds another is always a male, but it can't be sure for the one who is being fed. It is a female characteristic though.

Question: My male lovebird has learned to strip paper and put it in his tail successfully from my female lovebird. It seems that there are new eggs now, and he is the one laying on them for warmth. Both times before its been my female laying on the eggs. Is this normal behavior for my male lovebird or just learned?

Answer: This is an unusual behavior. Are you certain your male lovebird is a male?

Question: How can I know the age of my lovebirds? As I just got them. I put a nesting box near them but they didn't mate. I'm afraid they are old. I can find the tip of their beaks are black and don't find that in yours! I have blue white-faced lovebirds.

Answer: If you say you have lovebirds whose beaks have black tips, that means they are still babies. Young birds have developing feathers. Please check the internet to find lovebird pictures according to their age. Then you can estimate how old yours are.

Please check if their feathers are fully developed. Young birds like these won't mate. Lovebirds will become mature and start mating after they are 6 months old.

Question: During mating, is the male lovebird always on top of the female?

Answer: Yes, the male lovebird is always on top of the female during mating.

Question: I have seven lovebirds in a large cage. Two pairs have mated and had successful clutches. My question is one of my peach faced lovebirds have not paired with the other three (I think they are all three males), but this particular bird mates daily, several times a day with the rope I have hanging in their cage. Is this normal behavior?

Answer: Mating is a common behavior. The lovebird might not be finding the three males compatible.

Question: I saw my lovebirds mating so I provided nesting materials. I don't see the hen making nest though, what should I do?

Answer: Give her time, she will make the nest.

Question: 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?

Answer: If he regurgitates, it is sure that the lovebird is a male. If your bird can't make strips, it is also another hint.

Question: Are three-month-old lovebirds too young to mate?

Answer: Yes, they are. A six-month-old lovebird is considered an adult.

Question: How can you tell if lovebirds are fighting?

Answer: If they try to bite each other, move away from each other and make "screaming" noises, it means they are angry.

Question: My lovebirds are old enough. They are male and female, and I provided them with everything they need for breeding. But after 20 days, they still haven't laid any eggs. Why is this?

Answer: Please give them time. They need to get comfortable with each other.

Question: My male lovebird is trying to mate with me and I don't know what to do. Should I get a female lovebird or should I just let him do whatever until he's satisfied?

Answer: Please get a female lovebird for him as soon as possible.

Question: Can I change the nesting paper daily and bath the female lovebird? Will it affect the hatching process?

Answer: No, it won't affect the hatching process. Both these things will keep your bird healthy.

Question: About a month ago, my male and female lovebirds produced a chick. The female has bitten the male on his upper leg, causing him to bleed. If I separate the male and female, can the female raise the chick alone?

Answer: Apply turmeric powder on your male lovebird's leg. You can separate the male and the female lovebirds if the female eats on her own (not the food regurgitated by the male).

Question: My male lovebird is trying to mate but the female is always fighting and avoids him. Why?

Answer: I think the female lovebird is not ready to mate.

Question: I have a female lovebird who is showing signs of wanting to mate (nesting and displaying her wings). I’m nervous that if I get her a mate, she won’t love me or my husband anymore. Do your lovebirds still give you attention?

Answer: They will never stop loving you. My lovebird loves me and the mate and wants attention in the same way as before. Please get her a mate as soon as possible.

Question: Both of my lovebirds feed each other by doing that thing with their head, but you said that the male does it. Is it normal?

Answer: There can be exceptions, either both are males or one is a female who copies the male.

Question: Did Lulu's 9 eggs ever hatch?

Answer: Yes, but none from the clutch of 9 eggs. :) She had laid a number of clutches, but one clutch had 3 eggs. From that, a chick had hatched on 13 January 2017, but didn't survive, unfortunately. It is talked about in another article of mine. She has stopped laying eggs since the end of last year.

Question: Can female lovebirds scratch their ears?

Answer: All lovebirds scratch their cheek feathers, it's totally normal.

Question: I have been trying to breed my lovebirds for a few days now. They are preening each other and eating with each other too. It's going well, but for some reason I dont see signs of nesting or the male feeding the female. Do I have to do something or just wait?

Answer: Please wait as bonding and mating take time.

Question: My lovebirds keep chirping and when I come, they stop chirping. Why?

Answer: They might be scared.

Question: I just bought a new lovebird. I later found out that she had already been with another male lovebird. Now, she is going in the nest box. What happens if she lays eggs but that she did not mate with my bird? Can this become a problem?

Answer: No, it won't be a problem. If your lovebird lays eggs, she will incubate and look after them. Are your male and female lovebirds trying to bond to each other? Give them some time to get comfortable.

Question: I'm writing from Vermont, USA. I have a peach-faced lovebird. He thinks of me as his partner & I love this but he always tries mating with my hair when I have my hair up or even down it doesn't matter. I have tried to block him but it is an everyday thing & I'm not sure what to do. I'm wondering if there anything I can do to help this stop. Is there a fake lovebird I can buy so he can mate with that? Or will he always just try to mate with me?

Answer: Please buy a female lovebird for him as soon as possible. He is wanting a mate and that is why tries to mate with your hair.

Question: My lovebird has been laying eggs. The male has accidentally flown away. I am worried. Will she be able to take care of them herself?

Answer: No, she won't be able to survive alone. She needs a new male lovebird as a mate. Please get her one immediately.

© 2016 Sakina Nasir

Comments

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on September 03, 2020:

Hi Ingrid.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Do you mean the bird mates with a ping pong ball? If possible please bring a male lovebird for her. Do you see any changes in the behavior? Any aggressive/passive behavior than normal? Are there any changes in the diet?

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Sakina

Ingrid Stoetzel on September 02, 2020:

My female lovebird is 14 years old. Our other female, who was incompatible with this one, passed away in January. We kept them in separate cages that sat side by side. Our remaining lovebird, raised from an egg, now maps with a ping pong ball on her head. We've offered her fuzzy wraps, but she refuses to go near them. Is this a sign of loneliness?

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on August 05, 2020:

Hi Lyuda! :)

It's okay, my female lovebird does that to my male lovebird too! I don't know why she does that but she steps down in a few seconds.

Lyuda on July 05, 2020: