14 Fun Facts About Lovebirds (2024)

14 Fun Facts About Lovebirds (1)

It's Valentine's Day. Love is in the air (for some, at least). Humans around the globe will express their love today through chocolate, greeting cards, and a cacophony ofstuffed animals.

In the animal kingdom, though, relationships don't often fit withconventional human ideas of love. Female preying mantises feast ontheir male lovers after sex; red-sided garter snakes mate with multiple partners simultaneously.Formostorganisms, mating is purely areproductive strategy to pass on their genetic material to their progeny;in the case of many species, such as voles,evenmonogamy comes with an evolutionary advantage.

Butno animal represents the sentiment of Valentine's Day more than thelovebird. The petite, brightly plumedparrot is afavorite among bird enthusiastsand a popular pet.Lovebirds haveinspired scientists and poetsalike. Without further ado. here are 14 fun facts about lovebirds.

1. Lovebirds mate for life.

Themonogamous birds reach sexualmaturitywhen they're about ten months old. Mating begins with courtship behavior, and can continue throughout their roughly 15-year lifespans. Monogamy is essential to the social stability of flocks and underlies much of their social behavior.

2. Lovebirds pine for each other.

If a mate dies or gets separated from the flock, its companion exhibits erratic behavior that some have likened to depression. Birds kept as pets often don't like being alone and will exhibit similar behavior in captivity.

3. Like overly affectionate couples in restaurants on Valentine’s Day, lovebirds feed each other.

Often after a long separation or stressful period of time, breeding pairs of lovebirds feed each other to re-establish their bond. One bird transfers food to the mouth of its mate, a feeding technique reminiscent of affection in humans—hence the inspiration for the parrots' name.

4. There's more than one species of lovebird.

The nine species classified as lovebirds come allfrom the genusAgap*rnis. Most lovebirds have a green bodyand sport different head feather coloration.Their closest relatives are hanging parrots, found in Asia.

5. Lovebirds are from Africa.

Lovebirds are native to the forests and savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar.Fossils of ancient lovebird specieshave been unearthed in South Africa, dating to as far backas 1.9 million years ago.

6. Butyou might see a lovebird at your backyard birdfeeder.

That's if you live in the American southwest, San Franciscoor cities inAfrica. These areas are home to feral populations,flocks that likely either escaped from an aviary or are the remnants of an abandoned aviary.

7. Lovebirds live in holes.

Lovebirds are cavity dwellers they make their home in holes in trees, rocksor shrubs in the wild. Some species nest in groups, while others pair off to build their nests away from the flock. In urban settings, they might rely on anything from a tree to a crevice in a building. Peach-faced lovebirdsin Phoenix, Arizona, often make their homes in cacti.

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8. Different lovebird species build their nests in different ways.

Fisher’s lovebirds (Agap*rnis fischeri)carry single strips of tree bark in their beaks. Peach-faced lovebirds (Agap*rnis roseicollis), on the other hand,hide bark in theirfeathers.Scientists believe that the latter's more complex behavior isan ancestral trait, and have used this facet of lovebird nest-building as an example of the intersection of evolved and learned behavior.

9. Some lovebirds are androgynous.

In three species of lovebirds, the males and females have defining characteristics that allow you to tell them apart. For example, amongBlack-winged lovebirds (Agap*rnis taranta),males have a crown of red feathers, while females have entirely green plumage. But other species don't have the same degree of sexual dimorphism, making it difficult to determine their sexjust from looking at them. In some species, males may be slightly larger than females, but aDNA test is necessary to provideconclusive results.

10. Lovebirds don't eat chocolate.

It might seem like common sense, but save your chocolate and give it to a human. Lovebirds survive ona healthy dietof seeds, berries, fruit, and occassionally insect larvain the wild. In Africa, they're also known as crafty crop pests, as they feast on millet and maize farms.

11. Lovebirds can be mean.

Aggressionisn't uncommon in lovebirds. Theparrots are territorial, and are known to get along poorly with birds of another species. Within their own kind, lovebirds can also become jealous or hormonal during mating season.In captivity, they've been known to attach both other bird species and other lovebirds, with peach-faced lovebirds the most notorious for aggressive behavior.

12. Lovebirds can carry zoonotic diseases that infect humans.

Somestudiessuggest that lovebirds can carry yeast bacteria (Cryptococcus neoformans) capable of infecting humans, but they only pick up thebacterial spores if they come into contact with pigeon feces. Otherreportsfind evidence of a parasite calledEncephalitozoon hellemin Fishers, peach-faced, and masked lovebirds. The researchers hypothsize that the parasites can spread to humans with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS patients.

13. Some lovebirds might become endangered in the next decade.

The black-cheeked lovebird (Agap*rnis nigrigenis), native to Zambia andfound in parts of Zimbabwe and Botswana, isclassified as vulnerableby theIUCN Red Listing of Threatened Species. The biggest problem is drought (possibly driven by long-term climate change), which is dryingup regional water sources thatflocks rely on. The latestsurveyputs the black-cheeked lovebird population at around 10,000 birds in total.

14. Lovebirds (sort of) inspired Valentine's Day.

Scholars typically cite a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer as thefirst evidenceof the connection between the religious celebration of Saint Valentine's day and romantic love. Thepoem,"Parliament of Foules,"happens to feature two birds which exhibit all the markings of human love.

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Helen Thompson | | READ MORE

Helen Thompson writes about science and culture for Smithsonian. She's previously written for NPR, National Geographic News, Nature and others.

14 Fun Facts About Lovebirds (2024)


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