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Choosing a Peach-Faced Lovebird

By: Dr. Susan Clubb

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Peach-faced lovebirds are one of the most common pet birds worldwide and the most popular of the lovebirds. These lovely little birds are known as lovebirds because of the strong pair bond between mates that continually sit together preening, cooing and billing. They are hardy and easy to care for. Natives of Africa, peach-faced lovebirds are admired for their beautiful coloration and color varieties, engaging personalities, small size, and ease of maintenance.

The voice of a peach-face is a mixture of energetic chattering and short high-pitched shrieks. They are not easily taught to speak and have a squeaky speaking voice, which is difficult to understand. Adult birds, especially females, tend to become nippy. They are most commonly kept in pairs rather than as single birds and are ideal companion birds for people who prefer to watch the antics of a colorful lively pair of birds rather than a single bird.

Appearance

Wild type or normal colored peach-faced lovebirds are a beautiful bright green with a peach/pink patch covering the face and extending down the throat, and mature birds have a bright pink/red frontal band over the crown. Peach-faces lack the white eye-ring found in some other lovebird species. Their beak is horn colored and their eyes are black. They have a beautiful bright blue rump patch. Peach-faced lovebirds typically maintain their plumage in good condition and have very sleek feathering.

These African jewels are sometimes called rosy-faced or rosy-headed lovebird, or by their scientific name Agapornis roseicollis. They inhabit dry wooded country in southwestern Africa from Angola through Namibia in a belt parallel to the coast and into northern South Africa.

Feeding

Pelleted diets, made in a small size, are available for peach-faced lovebirds and provide balanced nutrition in every bite. These can be substituted for seeds, or seeds can be given as treats. Peach-faced lovebirds should also be offered small amounts of fresh dark green leafy vegetables, tiny slices of apple, grapes, melons, sprouts or other fresh foods. Boiled eggs or commercial egg food are excellent for young and breeding lovebirds but care must be taken in avoiding contamination by leaving moist foods in the cage too long. Vitamins should also be given and can be provided in the water but the bowl or water bottle must be washed daily to prevent bacterial over-growth. Vitamin supplementation is not necessary if the bird eats a pelleted diet.

Contrary to popular belief, peach-faced lovebirds do not need grit. They will consume it and if they are in good health it will not harm them, but if they don't feel well they may eat too much resulting in an impaction.

Housing

Peach-faced lovebirds are small but they are very active and should be given plenty of room to move around their cage. Since lovebirds are typically kept in pairs, keep this in mind when purchasing a cage and make it at least 50 percent larger than you would think is appropriate for a single lovebird. They should have at least two perches far enough apart to jump or fly between. A cage for a single lovebird should be at least 18 inches square and for a pair it should be approximately 24 inches square. If bars are horizontal they can more readily climb around the cage.

Grooming

Peach-faced lovebirds love baths and small birds baths can be purchased that will fit into the door of a standard cage. This can be filled with lukewarm water and allow the bird to enter as he chooses. Peach-faced lovebirds can also be bathed by misting with a fine mist spray bottle. They should be bathed twice weekly to maintain excellent plumage.

Wing clipping is essential for initial training of the peach-face and will need periodic renewal as the flight feathers are regrown. Many people keep their bird full flighted and a flying peach-face in the home can be delightful. If you do choose to keep your bird flighted, however, there are safely concerns. Accidents are often associated with ceiling fans, birds falling into open toilets, swimming pools and pots on the stove. Escapes can also happen very quickly when a door is suddenly opened and the bird becomes startled and flies out.

Breeding

Peach-faced lovebirds are very easily bred and a pair will breed and raise their babies in the home, right in front of the family. These lovebirds are monomorphic (males and females cannot be distinguished visually) and can breed when they are one year old, in pair cages or in colony flight cages.

The breeding cage should be larger than a single pet cage. A good size is approximately 24 inches long, 20 inches tall and 24 inches wide. A small wooden box can be mounted at a top corner. The box should be approximately 6-inch by 6-inch by 8-inch. Nest boxes are usually available at the local pet store. Pine shavings can be used as nest material however peach-faced lovebirds also love to build a nest inside the box. Many breeders give them woody vines such as honeysuckle or pieces of palm fronds. The hen lays four to eight eggs, 1 to 2 days apart and she usually starts to incubate with the second or third egg. This can result in quite a size difference between the oldest and youngest chicks in the clutch. For that reason some chicks may be lost if they are too small to compete with their siblings. Incubation lasts 21 to 23 days. Chicks weigh approximately 3 grams at hatching. Chicks fledge at 30 to 35 days but usually wean at 45 to 55 days.

Breeding pairs are often in a hurry to start another clutch of eggs and may abuse the chicks to force them from the nest. Chicks may be plucked or bitten. Such chicks may need to be removed for hand feeding. Hand feeding newly hatched peach-faced lovebirds, is very challenging due to their small size but if they are left in the nest until two to four weeks old they are easily hand-fed and are delightful babies. A standard hand-rearing formula can be used. It can be fed with an eyedropper or 1 cc syringe. Always follow label instruction for preparation. If you have a gram scale, you can feed 10 percent of the body weight at each feeding, or fill the crop to the point where it looks and feels full but not overfilled.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Lovebirds are relatively healthy birds but are susceptible to the following:

  • Psittacosis or Parrot Fever
  • Polyoma virus
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease
  • Yeast infections
  • Megabacteria
  • Traumatic accidents and accidental poisonings
  • Liver disease

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