I’ve recently purchased my first lovebirds, and I’ve been really loving having them around so far.
They’ve been excellent companions, and it’s been a learning curve for both of us to get used to each other!
While I was chatting with a more experienced friend the other day, he asked me if I’d heard about feeding them grit to help with their digestion.
Honestly, I hadn’t, and the idea confused me, but apparently many birds do ingest grit for this reason.
I decided to look into whether lovebirds need it.
So, do lovebirds need grit?
No, lovebirds do not need grit. Only non-hook beak birds need grit to help digest their foods. Lovebirds use their beaks to break up food before they swallow it, so there is no need for grit to help them digest it. Finches and canaries and other birds need grit, but not lovebirds.
So, if you were worried that you weren’t providing the grit your bird needs, then don’t, because lovebirds do not need grit.
They are perfectly capable of breaking up their food on their own with their beaks, and they don’t need digestive aids as other birds do.
Let’s look further into this.
Should lovebirds have grit?
No, they don’t need it.
Parrots in general have no need for grit because of their hooked beak.
This beak allows them to break up their food before swallowing it, so they don’t have to swallow things whole.
Nuts, for instance.
Lovebirds love eating nuts, and they are a staple of their diet, as are seeds.
Both of these things, though, are quite tough, not to mention often encased in hard shells that can’t be broken easily.
Lovebirds, though, are able to use the hooks of their beaks to break open the shells and husks of the seeds and nuts.
Thus, when they swallow them, they’re able to digest them all on their own.
Lovebirds may not look tough, but they are apparently tougher than some domestic birds.
They’re able to break down even the toughest seeds and nuts with their hard, strong beak.
If they don’t need grit, then, what do lovebirds need in their cages?
What do lovebirds need in their cage?
They will need a variety of things to maintain their best mood.
Firstly, they’re going to need two to three perches to sit on.
They should be different sizes and, ideally, different textures.
You can use different materials as perches, like rope, wood, branches, or even wooden dowels.
Perches are absolutely essential.
They’ll also need a variety of things to play with.
They like swings, and a swing can act as another perch, too.
They also need things to chew on, so wooden gnaws or chew treats are great for that.
But they will also want things they can manipulate with their claws, like bells and anything they can hold and make noise with.
They also enjoy shredding paper, so some non-dyed paper is always a good toy for them to play with.
Then, naturally, they’ll need their basic needs provided for.
Food, in the form of seed and nut feed, should always be readily available.
And, of course, they should always have plenty of fresh, clean water to drink.
Why do birds need grit?
So, now that you’ve got all your lovebird’s needs covered, why exactly do some birds need to eat grit?
It’s certainly something that sounds very strange to us, but it’s actually more common than you might think in the animal kingdom.
For animals with a diet that consists of a lot of hard matter, like seeds, nuts, and even sometimes tree bark, it isn’t always easy to digest that matter.
Again, canaries are the most well-known domestic example.
Canaries do not have a hooked beak, so they can only swallow their feed whole.
They can’t break this matter down on their own, so they swallow grit and small stones to grind it up inside their stomachs.
It certainly does sound strange, and it’s hard to imagine swallowing a load of rocks but it works for them!
For animals without teeth, this is a rather common strategy, and evidence suggests that this technique was even used by some species of dinosaurs.
So, how do they digest this matter?
How do birds digest grit?
The truth is they don’t digest the grit.
They just let it pass through them.
They are careful enough not to swallow anything that is too big for them to pass, and it causes no problems passing through their gut.
It can certainly seem a bit miraculous to think, since I’m sure it would be pretty painful if we swallowed a load of grit or pebbles.
Even the humble canary, though, is able to pass fairly large amounts of grit and sand through its gut to help grind up its food.
They will, sometimes, also just regurgitate the stones after swallowing them, though is less efficient and less common.
So, while some birds do need grit, lovebirds definitely do not.
If you give it to them, they will probably just ignore it—they certainly won’t eat it.
The confusion comes from some species of birds needing grit, like canaries, in order to break down their food in their guts.
Many animals do a similar thing, such as swallowing rocks to grind up the food they eat.
Lovebirds, though, are perfectly fine on their own, using their hooked beak to attack and break up their food before they digest it.