A friend of mine has been looking for ways to give his lovebird pair some more things to keep themselves occupied while he’s not around.
They have been getting a bit antsy, and the clever little birds quickly tire of new toys.
One thing he asked me about was whether lovebirds liked mirrors, and if this might be a good idea for a new toy to let them have.
I had heard of parrots playing with mirrors before, but I wasn’t sure myself, so I decided to look into it.
So, do lovebirds like mirrors?
Mirrors are not really ideal for small birds like lovebirds. They can form attachments to the reflections, and become stressed when they can’t properly bond with the reflection. A distorted mirror is usually okay, but any mirror should come with supervision when first introduced.
Unfortunately, there has been no peer-reviewed studies into the quantifiable effects of mirrors on parrot behavior.
All we know comes from anecdotal evidence from parrot owners.
While this isn’t totally unreliable, you must obviously assume that not every detail of such stories will correspond with your own lovebirds.
For my money, there are better toys than mirrors to give your lovebirds.
Let’s look further into this.
Are mirrors good for lovebirds?
No, is the short answer.
Mirrors have in the past been used as toys for stimulation for many kinds of parrot, because it gives the parrot the sense that there is another bird there with them. at one time, this was suggested as a way to alleviate loneliness for a single parrot.
However, what will actually happen is that your lovebird will become attached to what it perceives as another bird.
When it cannot physically interact with that other bird, this will lead to stress and anxiety, and it may end up taking out its frustrations on itself or you.
As I said, ideally, lovebirds should be kept in pairs.
They are social birds and in the wild will mate for life, so they form deep emotional connections with other creatures.
They need another member of their own species around.
A mirror is nowhere near sufficient to provide this kind of companionship.
In fact, it will most likely be detrimental to their wellbeing.
This speaks to a key question that we often have about lovebirds and mirrors, and indeed all animals—can they recognize themselves in their reflection?
Do lovebirds recognize themselves in mirrors?
Again, no definitive peer reviewed research has been done into this question, but the answer certainly seems to be no.
The behavior they display on getting a mirror shows attachments and fixations, and leads to abnormal social behavior.
This suggests that they think of the reflection in the mirror as another individual, and not themselves.
If they did recognize themselves in the mirror, then it’s easier to see how it could be a good toy for them.
They would enjoy playing with the movement of their own reflection.
Unfortunately, though, they will get unhealthily fixated on the reflection, and more likely than not, see it as another bird.
But lovebirds do need toys and stimulation, so what do they like to play with?
What do lovebirds like to play with?
Toys of all kinds are great for lovebirds.
They enjoy things to climb on, like swings and ladders.
These are great because you can keep them in the bird’s cage, and they can swing and play whenever they like.
You can also use things they can manipulate with their feet, like bells.
They certainly like to make noises with toys.
They enjoy virtually any shiny object, and something to chew on like a wooden gnaw.
They also enjoy shredding paper, so providing them with lots of dye-free paper is always a cheap and easy way to keep them entertained.
As long as they have things to climb on, things to play with using their feet, and something to shred up or chew with their beaks, they should be happy.
Don’t forget, though, that the main thing they like to play with is another lovebird, or you!
Do lovebirds like distorted mirrors?
The other option as far as mirrors go is distorted mirrors.
Certainly, mirrors that provide a true reflection are not a good idea—because of the clarity and ease of perceiving the reflection as another bird.
Distorted mirrors, though, provide an interesting and dynamic surface for them to look at and manipulate through their movements.
And they don’t risk seeing the reflection as another bird, just an interesting and fun thing to look at.
Still, though, you should carefully monitor them after providing them with even a distorted mirror.
All lovebirds are different, and yours could still wind up feeling uncomfortable because of the distorted mirror.
Again, if they don’t like the mirror, you are not short of things for them to play with.
They love toys of all kinds, and there are plenty available for you to buy them.
So, the basic answer is no, lovebirds do not like mirrors.
They can be stressful and confusing to the bird, and ultimately very detrimental to their mental wellbeing.
If you have a lovebird, then ideally it should have a partner.
If it does, then the partner should really be providing all the stimulation it would get from having a mirror.
There is no clear benefit to your lovebird having a mirror, and a lot of potential problems.
For my money, it’s best avoided.