Lovebirds Care Sheet

Maria Zayas, DVM
By Maria Zayas, DVM on Dec. 15, 2023
Two lovebird parrots

In This Article

Species Overview

Lovebird Species Overview

Lovebirds are a group of small parrots named for their ability to form lifelong bonds, and they’re available in a wide array of patterns and colors. Some lovebird breeds (such as the masked or Fischer’s lovebird) have prominent eye rings, while others (such as peach-faced, rosy-faced, or Madagascar lovebirds) do not.  

While lovebirds are usually best kept in pairs, single lovebirds can form deep bonds with their pet parents when socialized properly. Pet parents should provide their lovebirds with daily interaction and playtime outside their enclosed habitat. 

Without proper mental/physical stimulation, lovebirds will develop harmful habits, including feather plucking. 

Lovebirds are not known for their talking abilities, but they still sing, whistle, and chirp! Generally, lovebirds kept in pairs or small groups are chattier than birds housed alone. This is because lovebirds use their sounds to communicate with each other.    

Lovebird Characteristics 

Difficulty of Care 


Average Lifespan 

15+ years with proper care 

Average Adult Size 

5–7 inches long, from head to end of tail 


Granivorous (grain-eater) 

Minimum Habitat Size 

18” L x 18” W x 24” H 

Lovebirds Supply Checklist

To keep a lovebird happy and healthy, pet parents should have these basic supplies on hand: 

  • Appropriately sized habitat (18” L x 18” W x 24” H) 

  • High-quality pelleted lovebird food 

  • Millet spray  

  • Cuttlebone and mineral cakes 

  • Cuttlebone/millet holder 

  • Treats 

  • Habitat paper or other paper-based litter  

  • Food and water dishes 

  • Variety of perches 

  • Variety of toys 

  • Bird bath  

  • Mister spray bottle 

  • Nail clippers and styptic powder 

  • Play gym 

Lovebird Habitat

Choosing the Right Enclosure 

A single lovebird should be housed in a wire-based habitat that’s no smaller than 18” L x 18” W x 24” H, while a minimum of 24” L x 18” W x 24” H habitat is recommended for a pair of lovebirds. The space between the cage’s bars should be 5/8 inch apart or smaller to prevent the bird from escaping or getting their head or tiny limbs stuck. Habitats should be large enough for lovebirds to fly and stretch their wings out fully. 

Homemade habitats or any habitat made with wood or galvanized wire are not recommended. These materials can expose lovebirds to potentially toxic chemicals that can cause serious medical problems if ingested. 

Setting Up Your Habitat 

Lovebirds are comfortable in average household temperatures ranging from 65 F to 80 F. Pet parents should be cautious of extreme temperature changes.  

Lovebirds are social creatures that enjoy lots of interaction, so it’s best to place their habitats in an area of the home that gets a lot of traffic. Birds should not, however, be housed in kitchens, as fumes and smoke can be toxic to birds if inhaled. Keep lovebird habitats off the floor and in a draft-free, well-lit area that’s not near an air conditioner or accessible to other pets, including cats and dogs.  

Make sure that no habitat parts or toys are made with lead, zinc, lead-based paints, galvanized metal, or other potentially toxic materials. All these materials can cause serious medical issues in birds if ingested. 

Habitat Mates 

Lovebirds can be kept alone or in pairs. If you decide to keep a single lovebird, you will need to interact with him daily and provide him with plenty of toys to curb boredom. 

Lovebirds are named for the close bonds they form with each other or their pet parents. However, pet parents should still take precautions when introducing new lovebirds to each other. Introductions should be done slowly, in neutral territory, and under close supervision to ensure the lovebirds are compatible. Monitor your lovebirds for aggressive behavior and separate them if they fight. Never keep different species of animals in the same habitat. 


The bottom of a lovebird’s habitat should have a removable metal grate so droppings can fall below the bird’s feet. Line the tray at the base of the habitat with habitat paper or other paper-based bedding. This will help keep the environment clean and minimize dust. 


Lovebirds need exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light to produce vitamin D in their skin so they can absorb dietary calcium. Glass windows filter out UV light, so placing their habitat next to an indoor window is not enough. Birds get natural UV exposure by spending time outside in an escape-proof cage each day. Birds should never be left unattended while outside and should not be placed in direct sunlight. 

To supplement UV exposure, pet parents can shine a full-spectrum UV light designed for birds on their lovebird's habitat for 10–12 hours each day. UV lights should be about 12–18" from where the bird perches. Replace lights every six months, as their potency wanes over time. 

Décor and Accessories 


Lovebirds need perches of assorted sizes, heights, textures, and materials so that they can exercise their feet and prevent pressure sores from developing. 

Perches should be around ½ inch in diameter. If a perch’s diameter is too wide, the bird will not be able to grip it properly. This can lead to falls and other serious injuries. 

Concrete, wood, braided rope, and natural branches all make suitable materials for perches. 

Sandpaper perches and sanded perch covers are not recommended because they can cause painful abrasions on the underside of a bird’s feet.  

Gravel-coated perches should be avoided because they are abrasive to birds’ feet, and birds can pick off the gravel and ingest it. 

Do not place perches above the bird’s water or food bowl—waste droppings will land there. 

Food and Water Dishes

Dry food, fresh food, and water should be offered in separate dishes. If more than one lovebird is kept in the same habitat, then each bird should have his own feeding station to discourage competition. 

Water dishes should be large enough for the lovebird to bathe in. 

Dishes should be washed and rinsed thoroughly each day to prevent bacterial growth. 


Lovebirds are highly intelligent creatures that need toys and daily attention from their pet parent to stay physically and mentally stimulated. Foraging toys are an important addition to any lovebird's cage, offering both entertainment and exercise. Without adequate stimulation, bored lovebirds can develop harmful habits, like screaming and feather-plucking. 

Toys may be made from cardboard, paper, soft wood, or plastic too hard for lovebirds to chew off and ingest. 

Rotate toys regularly to prevent boredom. 

Toys should not have small parts that can be removed and swallowed. 


Cuttlebones are an excellent way to supplement calcium and other trace minerals in a bird’s diet. Calcium is a vital nutrient that helps keep birds’ bones, beaks, nails, and feathers strong and healthy. 

A cuttlebone holder can help keep a lovebird’s cuttlebone in place and prevent cuttlebone debris from falling outside the cage. 

Lovebird Cleaning and Maintenance

Pet parents should spot-clean their lovebird’s habitat daily, removing any soiled material and discarded food. Water and food bowls must be washed daily. Substrate, bedding, and habitat liners should be replaced at least once a week (or more often if more than one lovebird lives in the same habitat). 

Pet parents should only use cleaning agents formulated for pets when cleaning their lovebird’s cage, as birds’ respiratory systems are sensitive to aerosolized fumes. 

To clean a lovebird’s habitat, take these steps: 

  1. Move the lovebird to a secure environment (such as another habitat or travel cage) in a separate air space. Remove any old substrate, bedding, and accessories from the habitat. 
  1. Use a bird habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution to wash the habitat and any accessories.  
  1. Rinse the habitat and accessories thoroughly with water, making sure to remove any trace amounts or residual smells left by the cleaning agent or bleach solution.  
  1. Allow the habitat and its contents to dry completely before placing new substrate, bedding, and clean accessories back into the habitat. 
  1. Return the bird to the clean habitat. 

Perches, dishes, and toys should be replaced when worn or damaged. Pet parents should swap old toys with new ones regularly to prevent boredom. As birds are creatures of habit and are sometimes stressed by change, toys should be introduced one at a time. 

Lovebird Diet and Nutrition

Lovebirds enjoy a range of foods, including pelleted food, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and the occasional treat. Lovebirds should always have access to fresh, clean water. 

Pet parents should never share food from their mouths or plates with their lovebird. Human mouths have microorganisms that can cause illness in birds. 

A nutritious and well-balanced lovebird diet includes a high-quality pelleted food formulated for small parrots/lovebirds; a nutritionally complete and balanced pelleted food should make up at least 60–70% of a lovebird's diet. 

Use the manufacturer's instructions to determine how much food should be given daily. Uneaten food should be discarded and replaced before each feeding. 

Pet parents do not need to give their lovebird additional supplements and vitamins if feeding a pelleted food formulated for parrots. 

Fruits and vegetables may be offered in limited quantities, and should always be finely chopped into bite-sized pieces. 

Lovebirds enjoy and can safely eat a variety of fresh fruits and small amount of vegetables, including:

  • Berries

  • Melons

  • Papaya

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Bell peppers

  • Broccoli

  • Pea pods 

Red, yellow, and orange-colored fruits and veggies, in particular, have higher levels of vitamin A, crucial to keeping bird’s skin and feathers healthy. 

Uneaten fruits and vegetables should be discarded after 10 hours because they may spoil and cause infection if eaten. 

Treats (including seed) should not make up more than 10% of a lovebird’s diet.

Fortified seeds and millet can be fed as a treat. Like other parrots, lovebirds remove the hulls of seeds before eating them, so pet parents do not need to give them an insoluble grit supplement to help them grind down whole seeds in their stomachs. 

Fresh, clean water should be changed daily. 

Do not allow lovebirds to ingest avocados, fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol, as they are all toxic and can cause death or serious illness. Pet parents should avoid treats high in salt or fat. 

Lovebird Grooming and Care

Pet parents with birds should avoid using nonstick cookware and other appliances with a nonstick coating (such as Teflon™). Nonstick coatings have a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). When heated, PTFE releases colorless, odorless fumes that can kill pet birds if they inhale them.  

For pet parents interested in wing clipping:  

  • Wing clipping temporarily prevents a bird from gaining lift and flying away.  

  • A properly performed wing trim allows a bird to sail safely to the ground without lift  

  • Only a trained professional or someone that has been taught how to trim feathers should clip a lovebird’s wing feathers. Improper trimming can cause severe injury.  

  • When done correctly, clipping the outermost “flight feathers” can help keep birds from flying away accidentally and becoming injured.  

  • Before trying to trim a bird’s feathers, pet parents should consult an avian veterinarian for help.  

  • Wing clipping must be repeated every few months, as feathers grow back in.  


Water dishes should be large enough for a lovebird to bathe in. Pet parents can groom birds that do not regularly bathe themselves by gently misting them with warm water from a clean spray bottle a few times a week. 

Nail Care

A lovebird’s nails must be trimmed on an as-needed basis, which can range from every few weeks to months. Nails should be trimmed by a trained professional, avian veterinarian, or someone otherwise trained to trim birds’ nails to prevent injury. 

If bleeding occurs, a styptic powder can be used to stop the bleeding quickly. 

Most lovebirds will not need to have their beaks trimmed, as they should stay in good condition with daily use. Underlying conditions, such as liver disease or deformity from trauma, can cause abnormal beak growth and must be addressed by an avian veterinarian. 

Veterinary Care for Lovebirds

Annual Care

Lovebirds should be seen by a veterinarian once annually. A transport carrier or cage should be used and pictures of their cage, diet, and supplies at home can be shown to the veterinarian as part of the exam. The carrier may be covered for protection and stress relief as needed.

Signs of a Healthy Lovebird

  • Bright, social attitude with regular vocalizations

  • Clean, clear, bright eyes

  • Clean nostrils

  • A symmetrical, intact beak that closes appropriately

  • Intact, clean, bright feathers

  • Clean, smooth feet

  • Full and equal range of motion of wings

  • Consistent droppings

  • Clean and dry vent/cloaca

When to Call a Vet

  • Eye discharge or swelling

  • Nasal discharge

  • Wheezing or sneezing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Overgrown beak or fractures to beak

  • Feather plucking, bleeding feathers, uneven feather growth

  • Constantly fluffed feathers

  • Favoring a foot or open sores or lumps

  • Limping, unwillingness to use a limb or wing, or holding a wing abnormally

  • Moist feathers around cloaca or any discharge from cloaca

  • Runny, liquid, or abnormally colored droppings

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting or regurgitating

  • Not vocalizing

  • Head tilt

Common Illnesses in Lovebirds

  • Feather picking or other anxiety- or boredom-related behaviors

  • Psittacine beak and feather disease

  • Diarrhea

  • Yeast (candida)

  • Overgrown beak

  • Chlamydiosis

  • Trauma

  • Heavy metal toxicities

  • Teflon toxicity

  • Cancer

Lovebirds FAQs

Are lovebirds good pets?

While lovebirds can be fulfilling pets, keeping them happy and healthy can be a lot of work and takes more dedication than for many other popular pet species. Anyone hoping to keep lovebirds should plan to meet their needs. Lovebirds aren’t recommended for beginner pet parents, especially those who have never kept birds before.

Do lovebirds need to be in pairs?

Lovebirds are highly intelligent and social and do best when kept in pairs. It is technically possible to keep a single lovebird but you will find that to be significantly harder to do successfully.

Do lovebirds like to cuddle with you?

One of the top reasons lovebirds are so popular to keep as pets, besides their gorgeous looks, is because they are some of the most snuggly birds. They love to cuddle with their pet parents and their mate and will chatter away at you as well.

Why are they called lovebirds?

These cuties sometimes form lifelong pairings between mates and will almost always choose to snuggle next to each other. This is such a quintessential look that it also led to their name.

What are the cons of lovebirds?

Lovebirds, as a very vocal bird species, can often be loud. Additionally, they are typically very messy, which can make finding a good space to keep them difficult. Lovebirds in the wild live in groups and they can benefit from living in larger groups than just pairs, but because mated pairs are also highly territorial, it can be near impossible to provide an adequate habitat that allows for optimal group sizes safely. In most cases this means just keeping mated pairs, which often works out, but some lovebirds may exhibit persistent, stress-related behaviors.

Do lovebirds like being touched?

Lovebirds love being touched. In fact, for most lovebirds, they can’t be properly cared for without regular touch.

Featured Image: Khanh Le/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Maria Zayas, DVM


Maria Zayas, DVM


Dr. Zayas has practiced small animal and exotic medicine all over the United States and currently lives in Colorado with her 3 dogs, 1 cat,...

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