I wrote this to balance the effect of sharing my cute bird pics/videos that makes some people want to keep lovebirds as their pets too. While I always welcome a new friend that have birds, I don't want them getting one in their lives with misleading ideas of what lovebirds are really like. I made some mistakes in my early life with birds. I'm not always proud of what I did in the past, but if it's something people can learn from, I'll share it anyway, hoping you'll have a smooth start with your bird companion and stay that way for many, many years to come.
First of all, parrots are always demanding. Size doesn't matter. It's a common rule that is applied for all social creatures actually. Small size only means that you'll spend less amount of money for the cage, toys and food. Vet bills cost the same.
I highly recommend to keep just 1 bird in your life. I'm somehow ended with a handful and I can't reset that. But you are not too late. Just keep one and you shall thx me later! Please remember, if you buy 1 you need to be ready to spend at least 1 hour a day with him out of cage for the next 20 years. The reward will be a sweet bonded bird that u can show off. By buying just one you are committed into a LIFE TIME contract to be his parent, sex partner, friend, maid and bird toys. This means no holiday for you if you can't find an experience bird sitter that your bird likes. This also means choosing the bird over your social events, such as a friend's wedding. The bird only has you thus it's your responsibility to give him a priority. Else loneliness and sex frustration can drive him into a plucker, worse mutilate himself. If you can't do this much, buy two birds instead.
If you choose to buy 2 birds, he won't get lonely when you are busy with school, college, social events, kids, etc later in your life. I suggest buy 2 babies at the same time since buying him a friend at later age will be a hard work to do because he'll already have considered himself a human and there's a possibility he'll reject and attack the new bird, giving you a new problem and probably end up with him being rehomed because he is not that sweet anymore. However, buying two birds from babies will also not a guarantee that they will get along together. They might get a long when they were babies but once they hit puberty they might fight each other because one is an alpha who turns into a bully. Birds are territorial creatures so sometimes they don't want to share cage when they are same sex, especially female. So yes, be ready that you might, at the end, have to separate them into 2 cages. If cleaning 2 cages and all their messes on the floor are too much for you, please consider other animal as pets.
Keeping male and female birds together also has its own problem. If the male is not self-chosen by the female, he'll be attacked to death. But the biggest problem is you'll end up becoming a back yard breeder. Birds will mate & hens will lay eggs all the time (with or without a nest box) as long as the environment is comfortable and food supply is abundant. Hens will face chronic egg layer problem that can cause egg binding that can lead to death. Their babies will be given away/sold at one time because it's impossible for you to keep them all, batch after batch of babies. Who can guarantee the people who take their babies will be responsible human beings unless they sign a paper witnessed by a lawyer that's said they'll be sentenced for life if they abuse or neglect the birds. You will need to be creative and try various methods to stop the egg laying but sometimes none will work. Each bird is unique. What works for others' birds might not work for yours. Buy 2 male birds if you don't want babies and problem with a chronic egg layer. Ask for DNA tests from your breeder when you buy 2 chicks. Buying two birds however will likely make them less/ not bonded with you. Even a sweet tamed bird can discard you when he gets a mate. It's not always the case but you must not be surprised if this happens to you.
Keeping one or keeping two birds, both have plus and minus sides. Thus, I represent the best 2 options which are: 1 bird for those who can spend regular time, at least 1 hour a day to let the birds out to exercise while being supervised. 2 birds for those who are content watching 2 happy birds in a BIG cage and occasionally let them out to play. So choose wisely!
Please buy a weaned chick; don't hand feed a chick if possible because it's risky. If you like to get to know him better before he's weaned, do a home visit to your breeder after you pay a deposit money for a hatching baby. You can cuddle and trying to feed him while being supervised by the breeder so that he gets used to know you earlier in his life.
Inspect the breeder's breeding cages. If it's like a bird mill, don't bother buying his chick. You'll get a weak chick that will have health problems in his adult life.
Do not buy a bird just because of an ads pic. Do not believe a chick perching on a finger is 100% tamed. Hand feeding and hand raising are very different things. See for your own self if it's cuddly enough for you, best if you can flip him easily and he's relaxed laying on his back like this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRhiMJBrWss or this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNvh3ICTb8o
I don't recommend adopting a wild, not well-socialized bird for a beginner. Unless you have a mentor living near by to help you with training, else you might end up just neglecting him because you are afraid of his bites. Adopting a socialized adult bird is ok.
At 3 - 4 month of age, puberty starts and your patience/love will be tested. He'll be bitey because he's horny, territorial with his favorite toys, etc. Works with him for the next 6 more months to pass this rebel stage. Learn to watch his body language, talk and discuss with other bird parents so that you know what to do with his teen life's disaster. Join my birdie group, we have many lovebird parents here: Life with birds
Always eager to learn. There are still many, many thing that we can learn everyday to be a better bird parent. Always crosscheck the fact you read on the internet multiple times on several other sources to avoid misleading info or misunderstanding.
Money is not everything, TIME is. It's about how much time you want to spend on your bird to keep him a happy healthy bird. You can make your own toys, plant your own veggies, sprout your bird seeds, etc. Keep in mind, presents are never intended to replace presence. You are the best gift your bird can have. To be with you everyday is his biggest joy. Never forget that.
Last, do not buy a bird because you want a bird like others' have. Do not buy one because you expect him to talk, be a cuddle bug, etc. What you see on other people's video is something earned from a hard work and love going on for years. Every bird is unique and God is fair. What your bird lacks will be balanced with his own special perks. High expectation will only lead to disappointment which will end up with a rehoming. Love him for what he is. No two birds are the same, even if they are siblings. If you love him for what he is, the grass will always be greener on your own side.
After a year or two when you feel like birds are your life and you are sure you can handle 1 more for another 20 years too, go ahead buy another one. But never buy it because you want some that have pretty color mutations that you don't have yet. Unless you are a breeder, personality is more important than pretty plumage color for a companion bird. The beauty of physical appearance will soon vanish with everyday bite and more if he becomes a plucker. Having new pets will mean that you'll have less time to share with the current one you have. So please be sure to think really hard before bringing more birds in your life. SHARE THIS if you agree. Thanks.
You have outdone yourself with this posting, Em! Beautifully done ... as I was reading, I admit to looking for anything you might have left out by accident (since you know I take this topic very serious), but you covered everything that was truly important. Great job.
Parrots are like temper throwing kids who never grow up! They can throw an attitude with the best of them. Yet they can be lovers too
Lots of work parrots are, different than budgies for sure! Budgies, even if a bit nippy/grouchy tends to not be as smart as the grudge holding parrots. Even when mad, they're easier going than a 'true' parrot.
But it's a challenge, a very long term one if all goes well!
I do love my parrotlet, attitude and all. He's my baby and he knows it.
May sound like a strange question, but would you have any advice on re-taming? I have a cockatiel who is about 15 years old (had him since he was a youngster and he was hand reared, very tame up until about 9 years ago) He started being scared of people (I know the reason why) and was practically have heartattacks inside his small cage, in the end I gave up and put him inside a large cage that he could fly around in, have many different sized perches ect. He started to settle down again and he is happy, he is chirpy, he loves being around other birds, he no longer gets himself worked up to the point I fear for his heart stopping. Recently I put him back into a small cage so that I could take him in my car to visit with family, he is still in the small cage and he has been staying inside our house again, he is still happy, but he still wants to attack me every time I go to feed/water him. Have there been any success with re-taming small parrots? I'm a stay at home mum now so I have loads of time to spend with him.
Well when I moved in with my in-laws (for about 6 months) my MIL was doing various things like using a vacuum cleaner hitting his cage and using a garden hose claiming she was giving him water when she was filling the cage up with water, and just plain teasing him. We moved out of there as soon as we possibly could and he calmed down over time but he has never been the same as how he use to be (I don't blame him though after the trauma)
Basic mental you need to take care of this bird is: 1.) Consider the sweet one dead and this is a new bird you bought. 2.) Don't compare, don't expect too much, don't set a time limit to get him tamed
Basic training you need to do: 1.) Step up using a stick 2.) Step up from the stick to your finger There are many tutorials about it on the internet.
Join my birdie gang on Life with birds There are people who have same problem you are dealing with now. You can exchange tips and experience to get a better result. You have a higher success rate to train a traumatic bird if he's the only pet at home, no other birds around that he can count on as friends, no other animals/little kids that might scare him, and he will only see you trying to please him every day and hopefully when he's ready, he'll open his heart again for you. This will probably take years since he's been left traumatic for 6 years. So unconditional love and faith are necessary, else you'll lose patient.
Excellent advice, Em! Especially "1.) Consider the sweet one dead and this is a new bird you bought." ... my avian vet said that trauma can alter a bird's personality SO much, just as with humans. I would also agree 100% with you that he shouldn't have other birds, pets, etc. around him. We all know that all birds are flock animals ... they NEED to be around others. So if Miss Aliya is his ONLY flock, he will eventually warm up to her because his instincts tell him that is the way you survive. Great advice, Em!
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