Basic Information Sheet: Lovebird

Lovebird – Agapornis spp.

Fischer's lovebirds

Natural history


Lovebirds live in flocks among the woodlands, savannahand forest edges of sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean islands.


Taxonomy



Class: Aves

Order: Psittaciformes

Family: Psittacidae

Agopornis spp.

Agapornis fisceri – Fischer’s lovebird (shown above)

Agapornis personata – masked lovebird

Agapornis roseicollis – peach-faced lovebird

 

There are nine species in genus Agapornis. The peach-faced and black-masked lovebirds are most commonly kept as pets.


Physical description


  • Green plumage with a rose forehead, cheeks and throat, and a bright blue rump are seen overall in lovebirds but there are many mutant strains as well.
  • Males tend to be slightly larger but most species are not sexually dimorphic.


Diet


  • Lovebirds are granivores and frugivores.
  • Since psittacine birds hull seeds before ingestion, they do not require grit. In fact, some individuals will overeat grit when ill putting the bird at risk for impaction.
  • All-seed diets are deficient in protein, vitamins, and minerals including calcium and vitamin A.


Husbandry


  • Cage dimension should be at least 18 in (2.5 cm) long and 18 in (2.5 cm) wide.
  • Cage bar spacing should be approximately 3/8 to 7/16 in (0.95-1.1 cm).
  • At least two perches without sandpaper should be provided with 3/8 inch diameter.
  • Perch diameter should be between 3/8 in (0.95 cm). Provide at least two perches. Sand paper perch covers are very abrasive to the feet, and are not recommended.
  • Provide frequent water baths or showers to maintain normal skin/feather quality.


Behavior


  • Lovebirds are assertive, even sometimes aggressive, in nature. Daily handling is necessary to maintain pet quality.
  • A pair of lovebirds in a home will be quite loyal to each other and will not bond with the owner.
  • Like most parrots, foraging is an important part of normal daily lovebird activity. Teach and encourage pet birds to play and forage.


Normal physiologic values


Temperature (average)*41.8 C107.1 F
Resting heart rate (beats/min)206-274
Respiration (breaths/min)50-60
Body weight (g)45-70 (50)
Mean life span (years)15Up to 30y have been reported
Sexual maturity (months)6-12
Weaning age (days)45-55
Fledgling age (days)30-35
Mean number of incubation days18-24
Average number of eggs laid2-6
Water intakeHigh individual variability
Target environmental temperatureMimic natural environmentHousehold temperatures of 70-80°F (21-27°C) aregenerally acceptable, however healthy birds can tolerate hot and coldtemperatures.
* Routine avian exam does not include measuring bodytemperature


Anatomy and physiology


Anatomic traits of Order Psittaciformes include:

  • Communication of the right and left nasal sinus
  • The only avian tongue with intrinsic muscles
  • Simply syrinx
  • Craniofacial hinge of beak is a synovial joint
  • Ceca absent
  • Gall bladder often absent
  • Zygodactyl foot:two toes pointed backward and two pointed forward


Restraint


Lovebirds may be restrained by holding the head between index and middle fingers. Support the body with the palm of the hand as well as the thumb and little finger.


Venipuncture


Use a 27-gauge needle and 1 to 3-mL syringe to draw blood from the right jugular vein.Collection of up to 1% of body weight is acceptable in healthy patients.


Preventive medicine



Injections


Intramuscular (IM)Reasonably safe, most accurate.
Inject middle of muscle mass.
Ideal location–Pectoral muscle mass
Subcutaneous (SQ)Large volumes can be injected, poor absorption.Location: Inguinal or precrural fold
IntravenousEffective, narrow safety range.Right jugular vein or brachial vein is most commonly used.
Alternative option: superficial metatarsal vein.


Important medical conditions


Infectious Diseases

Non-Infectious conditions

  • Chronic egg laying, egg binding, dystocia and other reproductive problems
  • “Lovebird eye disease”:  A severe, often fatal disease of Agapornis spp. characterized by ocular discharge, depression and weight loss

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References