The term ‘lovebird’ is so ubiquitous in the English language that most of us use it without ever even thinking of the actual bird.
It is used to describe people in love, but there is an actual lovebird, too.
These birds were named, partly, because they love to mate for life and live in pairs.
While I was chatting with my friend the other day, we were discussing elaborate bird mating rituals, and the lovebird came up, too.
We realized neither of us knew about the actual mating process of lovebirds, so we decided to look into it.
So, how do lovebirds mate?
The male starts by feeding the female to court her. Though they have a breeding season in the wild, they breed any time in captivity. The pair will build a bond until eventually the male will begin feeding the female, then they will build a nest and mate several times a day.
Lovebirds mate much as any other species of parrot does, really, with some unique differences.
The male showing the female he can provide for them is key, which is why the feeding ritual occurs.
But generally, it’s just a case of the female deciding the male is worthy, and then they mate until they lay a fertilized clutch.
Let’s look further into this.
How do I know my lovebirds are mating?
There are many signs you can look out for to see that your lovebirds are bonded and mating.
When they are due to mate, or mating, the pair should stay very close to each other throughout most of the day.
They will share perches, and generally, be close together.
They will also groom each other a lot.
Mutual grooming is one of the most important parts of bird mating rituals, and lovebirds are no different.
They will preen and clean each other a lot, usually the male doing a lot more than the female.
Also, as I mentioned, is the feeding.
The male will feed the female, bringing her food—even if it’s only from another point in the cage!
It shows that he is ready to provide for her and a clutch of hatchlings.
Then, finally, the nesting.
You should ideally have a nesting box for them to breed, and they will both begin building a nest in their once they are mating.
The nest should really be ready before they start mating so that they always have somewhere to lay the eggs.
If you notice these signs, then your lovebirds are probably mating. If not, then they may just need a bit more time—but how much time, exactly?
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How long does it take for lovebirds to mate?
It’s going to vary a lot between pairs.
Some will mate very quickly, some will take longer.
In terms of sexual maturity, you are looking at around ten months old before they are properly ready to mate.
Once they’ve reached maturity, they will then need to build the bond of a mated pair.
This can take weeks to months to even a year or two.
As I said, it’s different with every pair.
Some will take longer, and patience is always key.
They will only mate on their own terms.
All you can do is provide for them and encourage them to mate.
Make sure they have everything they need to mate, and eventually they will.
Patience, though, is really the key thing.
If you aren’t patient and start trying to force it, you could put the pair off each other forever.
This is rare, but it can happen, so be very careful.
Do lovebirds get pregnant?
Not in the sense that mammals do.
They don’t gestate their young in a womb to give birth to.
They lay eggs, which hatch over time, and must be incubated by both parents in a nest.
That said, “pregnant” is often the word used to describe a lovebird that is about to lay eggs.
The eggs will, naturally, be inside the bird for a time before they are laid.
During this time, you could say they were pregnant.
Breeding birds is very different from other pets, though.
They need nests and adequate time and heat to incubate the eggs, and will not give birth to live young—whether or not we call them ‘pregnant’ with their eggs.
But if lovebirds do not get pregnant or give birth to live young, do you need a male to breed?
Can two females?
Can two female lovebirds mate?
No, they can’t.
Female lovebirds can in many cases lay eggs without the intervention of a male, but these are unfertilized, and will not hatch chicks.
Two female lovebirds cannot mate to produce offspring, nor would they generally try.
If you want to breed lovebirds, you need a male and a female.
The male fertilizes the eggs so that they can develop into chicks, and are not just unaltered from the female’s reproductive system.
This is the reason chicken eggs do not eventually hatch—because the chickens were not mated to males.
Lovebirds need males to mate just like any other species.
Mating for lovebirds is really much like most other parrots, then.
There are rituals and performances, dances and things they may do to make their mating unique, but it’s largely about food and availability.
Especially in captivity, where the female does not have her choice of males, there are going to be fewer steps to the mating process.