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Thread: First Time Lovebird Owners

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  1. #1
    ٩(●̮̮̃•̃)۶ Four More Babies Hatched! Skittles's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    Barrie, Ontario
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    Exclamation First Time Lovebird Owners

    **COMPLETED: 1 vs 2 LOVEBIRDS - written in red! (please feel free to add on, pm me )

    To come:
    ~ Birdy proofing your room!

    - Lauren

    Hi! My name is Skittles!
    I am here to help all you new potential lovebird owners make the right decisions to give your lovebird the best home ever!

    Let's pretend that you are interested in me becoming your new bird!
    Can I ask you a few questions before you take me home with you?

    1) Are you ready to look after me no matter how long I live? Which could be up to 20 years.
    2) Where you live right now, do they allow animals; especially ones like me who can be VERY loud at times?
    3) Does your work or school and work schedule leave you enough time to give me all the attention and loving I want?
    4) Do you have the time and patience to see me through when I get bitey and stubborn or to train me to sit on your finger?
    5) Are you able to afford vet visits if my tummy gets sore and I need medication or if I need my wings clipped?
    6) Do you know what kind of foods make me sick and the ones that are healthy for me?
    7) Will you keep your dogs and cats away so I don’t become their dinner or new toy?

    And the final most important question:

    Will you keep me forever?

    If you can answer yes to all those questions, then I think I’m the bird for you!


    I will now go over all the stuff I’ll need to be spoiled with to make me the happiest little lovie there ever was
    Let me start by listing all the things you will need to get before you bring me home:

    - Cage (where my food, water and toys will be)
    - Travel cage (this I will use to come home in as well as go to the vets in)
    - Food (this could be my seeds, pellets, veggies or treats, or all of them
    - Food dishes
    - LOTS of toys (you don’t want me to be bored do you?)
    - A good variety of different sized perches (these will help keep my feetsies in shape)
    - Cuttlebone (Just in case I am low on calcium)
    - A scale (remember to get it in GRAMS, so you can weigh me )
    ** Also make sure to locate ahead of time: AN AVIAN CERTIFIED VET!!! **



    • The minimum size for a single lovebird is: 18”wide x 22” long x 18” high OR LARGER. Remember, we are very active birds and needs LOTS of space to jump around and play in.
    It is also wise to not buy a cheap cage, as the paint used to coat it could possibly be toxic if I ingested it.

    • I would look for a POWDER COATED or STAINLESS STEEL cage. These cages are very durable, easy to clean and will not rust on you a year down the road.

    • The maximum bar spacing should be 1/2 - 5/8 of an inch. Anything larger and I could get my head stuck in between the bars.

    • When you are shopping for my cage, try to find a cage that has a flat top as opposed to a round or curved top. I will become very insecure and scared having a round cage. I like having corners to “hide” in.But it really depends on the bird

    • Another great thing to have in the cage is a grate to cover the bottom of the cage. It not only prevents us from wandering around in our own poop, but it also prevents us from going into paper-shredding heaven and destroying the newspaper or paper towel you line it with

    Pros: More cage Space
    Cons: Harder to set up play gym or play area on top

    Pros: Easy for birds to play on top
    Cons: Less cage space

    Here are some great looking cages that I’d love to live in:

    LEFT: 32" x 23" x 66" (SINGLE LOVEBIRD) RIGHT: 24" x 22" x 34" (SINGLE LOVEBIRD)


    Travel Cage:

    • A travel cage will be entirely different than my main big cage. It will allow you safely transport me in your car if I need to go to the vets or be brought to a bird-sitter.

    • The travel cage should be just large enough to conveniently fit in your car or easy to carry if you have to take the bus, and to have a perch in there to give me something to hang onto while you’re carrying me.

    • Some stores may not carry “lovebird specific” travel cages, but the best thing to look for when in doubt, would be a small hamster or gerbil cage. Or a NEW small cat carrier (just make sure I can't squeeze out the front bars)

    Here are a few examples of travel cages:


    Toys and Perches:

    Now let’s talk toys! Every toy you can think of, I will probably want! Big ones, small ones, chewable ones, shredding ones even ones that I can hide in or climb!

    When you are looking for my lovie-perfect toy, shop like you are shopping for a baby: If it has breakable parts that could be swallowed or I could get stuck on a part of it, don’t buy it for me.

    - Shredable toys (wooden blocks covered in paper)
    - Bells
    - Brightly coloured beads (remember, make sure I can’t eat them)
    - Swings
    - Ladders
    - Toys that can have treats hidden in them. That makes them great for foraging

    If you want a VERY cheap way to keep me entertained, you can use an empty cereal box or shoe box and leave it on top of my cage! I can hide in it, shred it, poop in it and do all the things I want to in it, and when I’m bored, you just throw it out! No cleaning necessary!

    Here are some examples of some toys I’d love to have in my cage:


    How to prevent Boredom:

    Here are some great ways to prevent me from getting bored:

    • Routinely rotate the toys in my cage - this means take a few toys out and put some other ones in. This keeps me interested and entertained as opposed to having the SAME toys in my cage day after day.

    • Give me something challenging to do, such as:
    - wrap a whole bunch of treats in computer paper so I have to work for my treats. Hang them in all sorts of crazy places so I can have fun trying to get them!


    When it comes to my perches, it is great to have a variety of textures and sizes. This helps keep my feet conditioned and strong!

    - Cement perches (These are great for keeping my toenails trimmed)
    - Rope perches
    - Branches (For a list of Birdy-Safe trees/wood click here: http://www.birdsafe.com/woods.htm)
    - dowel perches

    Please avoid sand paper perches!!! (they look like perches covered with sand paper ) These types give me sores on my feet.
    You CAN however look for the brand name Sandy Perches, these are OK for me to use!!!

    Check out these perches:



    Mm mm food! A lot of us lovebirds when bought from stores are just eating seeds. Seeds are yummy and all for us, but they’re not HEALTHY when that’s all we’re eating. (It’s almost like you just eating potato chips). We need a variety of fresh foods such as vegetables and fruits to give us the proper vitamins and nutrients to keep our feathers and bodies healthy.
    I also sometimes like having a few tablespoons of pellets if I don’t feel like eating my veggies (come on, who likes broccoli?!)

    Seed Mixes – lots of people think lovies will do just fine on an all seed diet, but seed mixes tend to be very high in fat and have an unbalanced source of nutrients. Some birds also prefer to eat just one type of seed offered in a seed mix (usually his favourite) If I ate just one type of seed as my main diet, I would slowly become unhealthy from malnutrition and could develop other health issues.

    Pellets – ah, there are a lot of love-hate relationships with lovebird owners and feeding their birds pellets. I like eating pellets during the day when I can’t have my fresh veggies. Pellets have been developed to meet any birds’ nutritional needs in diet. There are natural pellet varieties which contain all natural ingredients and no preservatives or added things like sugar or salt.
    Some bird owners do NOT feed their birds pellets at all. If your lovebird is eating fresh vegetables, seeds, fruits and other healthy foods, then pellets are not needed.

    I feel that telling new owners to feed their new bird pellets is not right.
    Please check our our discussion on pellets:

    Vegetables, Fruits and Fresh Foods – here is a list of HEALTHY fresh foods we can eat:
    - Silver beets
    - Red and green bell peppers
    - Broccoli
    - Dandelion flowers
    - Corn on the cob or corn kernels
    - Chick weed
    - Banana
    - Apple
    - Kale
    - Celery
    - mung beans
    - snow peas
    - Blackberries
    - Raspberries
    - Brown rice
    - EGGS (Yes, eggs are great for me, you could even mush a hardboiled egg together including the shell for me!!!)
    - CHICKEN (Once again, COOKED chicken is healthy for me too! Mmm protien!)

    This is not a complete list! Just some of the ones I’ve tasted and I think are so yummy!

    Treats – I love treats, YUM! Here are some treats I have given my approval on:
    - Nutriberries
    - Avicakes
    - Bananas
    - Cheerios

    I would also look at this website; it shows great things for me to eat:

    • I know it seems so confusing on WHAT to feed me. But as long as I get a healthy balanced diet, you really should have no problem


    Fresh water should be given to me daily! I prefer having it in a dish other than a water bottle. I know I love to splash in my bowl and have baths in it. You can’t do that with a water bottle.
    I also don’t like the taste of chlorine, so I would prefer if you could give me filtered water or bottled water!


    Foods and other Things to Avoid Feeding me or Exposing me to
    (They can kill me )

    - Avocado
    - Rhubarb leaves
    - Apple seeds (the rest of the apple is fine)
    - Chocolate
    - Onions (both cooked and raw)
    - Alcohol
    - Mushrooms (can cause upset tummies)
    - Tomato Leaves (the rest of the fruit is fine, not the stems, vines and leaves)
    - Salt
    - Caffeine
    - Dried Beans (cooked beans are OK)
    - Milk Products (Icecream, milk etc... Lovebirds are lactose intolerant, yogurt is fine)

    HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS (information from http://en.allexperts.com/q/Parrots-1638/love-bird.htm):

    - Overheated non-stick cookware (TEFLON! Do not use around birds - Switch to Stainless Steel to save you any risks )
    - 2000 and newer self clean ovens - all contain TELFON
    - Air fresheners (especially plug-ins)
    - Aerosol sprays (many types can kill a parrot including hairspray, paint, shoe dyes, water repellants, household cleaners, insect sprays[killers, repellants,flea spray, etc.])
    - Finger nail polish and remover
    - Lead (can be found in many places you may not be aware of including: window calking, wine bottles, paint, stained glass, old window sashes and old houses [can be filled with lead])
    - Polyurethane being applied in another part of the house can travel through the airways and air systems
    - Diseases - They can linger in cages and airspace for months. If you bring a new bird into your home where a previous bird died, it is possible that the new bird will die from the same disease (this often happens without the owners knowing that their previous bird had a contagious disease).
    ** - Cat Bites that are not obvious or severe looking need to be treated immediately with antibiotics by an avian vet — the bacteria in a cat’s mouth is very deadly and fast moving in birds **
    - Cigarette smoke - BAD!!!
    - Corn cob bedding (it houses dust mites and other nasties, overall very unhealthy)
    - Hospital germicides or disinfectants



    How many lovebirds do you want to get?
    It is a common thing to think TWO lovebirds when you want to bring one home. But that is actually a myth that a lot of first time bird owners believe. Lovebirds do just as well as a single as they do in pairs.

    Having ONE lovebird means a more rewarding bond between you and your fid (feathered Kid), but also a more demanding one.

    Your lovebird will rely on your for some entertainment out of their cage (whether it be snuggling, having on your shoulder, or simply being in the same room).

    Your lovebird may also start to think of you as his/her mate despite you NOT having feathers, this could then lead into your bird trying to feed you or doing what we call the "Swishy swishy" to your feet, hand or other body part

    Bringing a SECOND lovebird into the family:

    Having ONE lovebird and then bringing home a second one, is a very lengthly and tough procedure.
    It does not mean you just simply put the new bird into your existing bird's cage. Please take the following steps to ensure your two birds are introduced safely:

    Days 1 - 30 with the new bird:

    • Days 1 through 30 are your quarantine days with the new fid
    During this time your new bird will have been vetted and DNA'd to ensure he is healthy and will not spread anything to any existing birds you have.
    (DNA testing usually involves the vet plucking a feather or two, OR slightly clipping into the quick of the toenail to take a few blood dabs to send away to a lab.)

    While your bird is in quarantine you can begin to work on your bond and trust with him/her. You will also be able to develop a sense for their personality and what he/she will be like towards you.
    (Quarantine is not only done to make sure you have a healthy bird, but it will allow you to work on your bond with the bird, allow any hidden illnesses to surface, as well as see if any behavioural issues arise too)

    Days 30+ with your new bird - INTRODUCTION:

    • After quarantine and the vet's clean bill of health for your new lovebird, you are now able to introduce the two birds
    This is the first and most important test of your patience!

    • Start by having both birds' cage in the same room
    • Any out of cage time is HIGHLY and STRICTLY supervised
    • Take both birds away from their cages (they may get territorial and aggresive if either bird accidently flies to the others' cage) to work with in another room
    • Allow them to approach each other on their own terms, give them some treats to share and lots of things to play with
    • Slowly over the course of the next few weeks, move their cages closer and closer together until eventually, their cages are almost touching.
    Now that their cages are "together" you can cover them up at night and feed them at the same time.

    Just because that they are now "together", it still does NOT mean they will enjoy each other's company in the same cage. Lovebirds are very similar to humans when it comes to who they want to love or play with . You cannot force them to enjoy someone they dislikes company or love them for that matter.

    You will need to make sure you have the proper sized cage to house both lovebirds with LOTS of space. Re arranging the cage, if it is your existing bird's cage you are using, of it's existing perches and toys, will allow both birds to choose their "territory" in the cage (almost like you and your sibling moving into a new house - who get's what room and which bathroom ).
    AFter all those steps are done, and YOU yourself are comfortable with the way the two of them are behaving with each other, only THEN should you allow the birds to explore the new potential cage they will be sharing.

    Let them play and eat in the cage during the day and in SEPARATE cages at night to sleep - observe what they do:
    • If they argue on who gets what food dish, consider adding another dish elsewhere in the cage
    • There might be some toe nipping or squabbling
    - If the squabbling is just beaking and no biting, let them be, they are establishing who get's what and figuring out who has the heirarchy over the other

    **It took my birds (Kirby and Skittles) a few weeks before I could fully trust them alone in the cage after being re-united. There was screaming, toe nibbling and arguing, but they've almost completely stopped that. Sure they squabble here and there, but it's typically just "HEY! You're butt is in my face *nibbles toes* MOVE!!!!!!!!" **


    Helpful and informative Links:

    Purchasing a bird Checklist:

    Teflon Toxicity:

    Avian Veterinarian Locator (USA):

    Lovebird Diseases:

    Lovebird Species:

    For a BOARD CERTIFIED (Dipl. ABVP - Avian medicine) vet (my personal preference):

    For the Association of Avian Veterinarians :

    Article about avian veterinarians:
    Last edited by Skittles; 09-05-2008 at 10:57 AM. Reason: (Updated: ONE vs TWO LOVIES - Steps to introduction)

  2. #2
    Slave to a broto! Moulting eliza's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
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    Re: First Time Lovebird Owners


    Maximum bar spacing should be 1/2" or 5/8".

    3/4" is pushing it with *most* lovebirds IMO. Some peachies are pretty robust and would do OK but some of the eye-rings are the tiny side, so it's best not to risk it.

    What about adding pics of suitable perches: rope, manzanita, grapewood, cholla, etc.?

    ETA: OH! Here are two links for finding veterinarians:

    For a BOARD CERTIFIED (Dipl. ABVP - Avian medicine) vet (my personal preference):


    For the Association of Avian Veterinarians :


    Article about avian veterinarians:

    Last edited by eliza; 07-20-2008 at 07:23 AM.
    Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France

    Pickle, Golden-winged parakeet (brotogeris). DOH 3/22/08.
    Beetle, Peach-faced lovebird (agapornis). 8/6/05 - 8/28/07. Always in my heart.

  3. #3
    Chick RandR's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
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    Re: First Time Lovebird Owners

    Since you're going to update soon...I thought I'd add this bit [so you can elaborate where you say simply "smoking-BAD"...smokers need to know why or they won't bother, and even then, they may not bother...so beef up the case for our birds there a bit may be necessary?????

    A Diagnostic Test for Nicotine Metabolites in Birds Exposed to Second-hand Smoke

    Presented August 2003 AAV conference
    Presenting Author: Carolyn Cray, PhD
    University of Miami, Division of Comparative Pathology, Miami, FL

    Interpretive Review and comments by Dr. Nemetz:

    Second-hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is one of the most controversial public human health issues. However, there is a growing body of evidence implicating ETS as a possible cause of lung cancer, bronchitis, and heart disease in humans. ETS contains at least 43 compounds known as human or animal carcinogens. ETS has also been shown to have significant effects on general respiratory, dermatologic, and ocular health.

    In 1998 a paper showed dogs as a good model of human cancer s as it relates to ETS exposure. No studies have yet been done on birds; however bird's unique respiratory anatomy makes them highly sensitive to any airborne toxin. Most people remember the old story of the canary that was taken into the coal mines with the miners. Being very sensitive to airborne toxins the canary would succumb before the miners would ever detect a problem, thereby saving the lives of the miners.

    Exposure by ETS in pet birds can be from chemicals inhaled from the air, chemicals ingested during preening of contaminated feathers, and inhalation of chemicals from owners' clothes or skin when the birds are in close contact.

    Cotinine is a major metabolite of nicotine and is used as a preferred target for assay in humans. Dr. Cray evaluated this same assay for its usefulness in birds. It was found to work well on blood and feces, but blood levels were more consistent. The overall sensitivity and specificity of this test is in excess of 94%.


    Many birds housed with smokers (whether they smoke in or out of the house) have presented to The BIRD Clinic with variable and chronic low-grade infections, respiratory compromise, heart disease, skin mutilation, as well as other nondescript symptoms. Perhaps some of these ailments are directly related to ETS?

    Now there is a test that can quantitatively evaluate the true effects of the household on the bird and help the bird as well as the owner better treat the situation and effectively measure the improvement by this exciting new blood test.

    2005 Update: Since this presentation, Dr. Nemetz has tested patients suspect of ETS poisoning and demonstrated cotinine levels as much as 100X normal. Two cases were feather pluckers, one had cancer, one had heart disease, and one had pulmonary scarring.

    In The Aviary........Our Lovebird Gallery [in progress]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Thanked 8 Times in 8 Posts

    Re: First Time Lovebird Owners

    Skittles, I've locked this informative thread to keep it clear & neat. If you have information to add, just PM me and I'll open it for you.

    Surrounded by people who love life, you love it too;
    surrounded by people who don't, you don't.
    ~Mignon McLaughlin

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