Caging and Housing Lovebirds


C aging and housing any genus
or group of birds will undoubtedly
produce a diversity of opinions.
When we discuss a group as prevalent
in aviculture as the lovebirds or genus
Agapornis, this may be especially true
as these birds have bred in virtually
every type of accommodation. My
suggestions are based on personal
experience with the eight species we
have kept in American collections. I
have been fortunate enough to breed
seven of the eight species listed (the
Red-faced Lovebird, an extremely specialized
and difficult species, has not
bred for me yet, however, it is currently
in my collection).
I have listed below some specific
precautions which should be
observed for the protection and wellbeing
of the birds.
• Do not use chicken wire or 1/"
hex aviary netting for construction as
the birds can chew through this (I can
personally attest to this).
• Lovebirds chew wood, therefore
aviary frames should be sturdy. For
the best and safest results, plywood
covered with wire will provide
• Shelter is necessary. Most lovebirds
can withstand colder temperatures
if properly acclimatized, but
drafts can be deadly. If aviaries are
subject to cold winds, they should
have solid "wind blocks" attached to
protect the birds.
• A void perches or nesting materials
from toxic plants such as oleander or
castor bean. Most lovebirds will destroy
planted flights, so don't waste
time planting aviaries.
• See my notes on individual species
for compatibility in colonies. Do
not introduce new specimens to
established groups. Do not intermix
or hybridize different species.
• In aviaries, a safety aisle is manda- 

tory as escapes can and will happen,
even during routine maintenance.
• Vermin must be controlled as they
will enter nest boxes, kill babies and
adults and contaminate food. Watch
for rats, mice, snakes and, in some
areas, squirrels, opossums and raccoons.
• Lovebirds must have water -
particularly in hot weather. Check
receptacles daily or even more often
as needed.
• Length is more important than
width when building cages and aviaries.
This provides for exercise and
allows the birds to come in condition
for breeding.
• Provide at least one and a half
times the number of nest boxes as
pairs of birds and don't overcrowd
(too many pairs), even in large flights.
All of my lovebird aviaries are 7' to
8' high, 4' wide and 6' to 12' long. I
use only welded wire and some are of
"erect easy"-type panel construction.
All are sheltered at least 4' of the
length and secured from drafts. My
breeding cages are about 4' long by 3'
wide by 3' high.
In aviaries, I offer both natural
branches and "perch ladders" suspended
diagonally from the top of the
flight. In colonies, they help allow the
birds to establish dominance and
reduce aggressive behavior. Note: in
colonies, make sure there are enough
perches in different locations because
fighting can occur. However, do not
crowd the flight section of the aviary
or cage so the birds are inhibited from
actually flying.
I feed in bowls and pans and check
daily to make sure what "looks full" is,
indeed, full of fresh seed (not hulls).
Bowls containing soft foods such as
fruits and beans are cleaned up and
disinfected with a mild bleach solution
daily. A great disposable alternative
is paper "French fry boats" available
from grocery supply houses or
discount stores such as Costco. You
just use the trays once and then throw
them away.
I provide fresh water daily in glass
pie dishes (automatic waterers are
fine, however, lovebirds bathe regularly

and the water they retain and
carry in their breast feathers is important
for maintaining humidity in the
Below are some brief notes on the
individual species (I will elaborate in
upcoming articles covering the individual
species and their unique
Peach-faced. Keep in pairs or controlled
colonies only, as they are
aggressive. Cage breeding is preferable
for establishing mutations (particularly
the rarer ones) and monitoring
genetics. Make sure there are even
numbers of pairs and, if kept in colonies,
extra nest boxes.
Fischer's, Masked, Blackcheeked,
Nyasa. Maintain in small,
controlled colonies or cage breed
individual pairs when establishing
mutations. Hybrids are undesirable so
do not mix species. Extra nest boxes
are mandatory.
Abyssinian, Madagascar. Single
pairs only/These species are unsuitable
for colonies. Females are very
aggressive so be sure pairs are compatible.
Madagascars are nervous and
are most stable in breeding cages with
privacy. Abyssinians are calmer and
more "parrot-like" and will do well in
cages or small flights. Madagascars are
sensitive to cold, whereas Abyssinians
are somewhat more tolerant.
Red-faced. These birds are quite
difficult to induce to breed. Most
recent breeding successes have been
in very private cages, however, this
lovebird will live harmoniously with
other birds (not other lovebirds). Redfaced
do not destroy shrubbery in
planted flights. They require a high
nest temperature when breeding.
Pairs can be aggressive towards each
other. This is not a bird for beginners.
As I mentioned, my recommendations
are based on my own experience.
Your opinions may vary, as
many breeders have enjoyed success
even in extremely small cages. Lovebirds
will sometimes breed in very
small facilities, but the offspring are
often small and sometimes the parents
are so out of condition they can't even
Good housing, good diet and good
judgment are most important in maintaining
and breeding the lovebirds.
And remember, do not mix any species
of lovebird (except Red-faced) in
community aviaries with other varieties
of birds.