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Want to be prepared for bringing your new baby lovebird home? It can be really helpful to know some things up front, things you may not be aware of and here are a few tips that I hope will help.
Have the cage set up and ready to go before you go to pick your baby lovebird up. That means water, food, cuttle bone, millet spray, swing, perches, and toys. You don’t want to have to fuss with all that once you get home.
Have millet spray already purchased! Handraisd baby lovebirds should never be allowed to go home until they are eating well on their own and maintaining weight but the fear of a new home and new peeps can give a lovebird a slight set back and the millet spray will make sure they keep eating even if they’re scared. You should let them have it for about 2 weeks in order to help pack on some nice weight after which it can just be a treat.
Toys for your baby lovebird should be toys with small parts. Look for toys with small beads that can be manipulated with their beak. For chewing….baby lovebirds are still developing beak strength but they’re going to be interested in chewing on everything, including you, so being prepared for that is important. You want to have things on hand to offer in lieu of chewing on your fingers….do not allow your baby to chew on you no matter how cute it is, that means watching what your lovebird is doing and heading him off at the pass. If you allow a baby lovebird to chew on you now….it won’t be so cute later on when the biting is hard. Things to have on hand: straws, pieces of cardboard, corn husks, sea grass rope, cotton rope, woven palm shredder, even pieces of palm frond for that matter, even food! Your lovebird will outgrow some of these things, but it’s important to have easy things for a baby to chew on to keep them engaged.
Baby lovebirds need to be trained what acceptable behaviors are, avoid bad behaviors at all cost by distraction and reward good behaviors. When you see your lovie about to take a nibble on you, show him what he’s supposed to chew on instead….and be consistent, that’s very important. One of the worst things I see people doing is getting their lovebird out of the cage because it’s going nuts wanting out….that’s one of the worst things you can do! If you do that, you just taught your lovebird that’s how to get out of the cage and they will do it all the time. Only get your lovebird out of it’s cage if it is calm, period. Don’t let your lovebird on your head, they don’t belong there and it’s a place of dominance, put your hand up so they land on your hand when they try to fly up there or, if they land, remove them immediately and place them in a lower place. If your lovebird does something you like, reward him! Give him snuggles and kisses and tell him how cute he is…..trust me, he’ll figure it out =) What behaviors you allow, encourage, or discourage right now are going to determine your lovebirds behavior for a long time, so be consistent.
Picking up your lovebird! Believe it or not, a small cardboard box is the best thing for picking your baby lovebird up in. They sell small cardboard carriers at most pet stores for super cheap or you could use a cardboard shoe box. The ride home, from the walk to the car, to the actual ride, to the walk in the house is going to be a lot of new stimulus for your baby lovebird, stimulus it isn’t used to and the cardboard box will block most of it out and keep him from being more scared than he needs to be. If you have someone with you in the car and they can cuddle him on the road home, that’s great, too. Chances are he’ll be calm in minutes and ready to explore =)
Once you get home, cuddle with your little one right away. I hear lots of advice about letting them settle in first and it’s very bad advice. A handraised tame baby lovebird needs to be cuddled as soon as it gets home, it initiates a bond with you immediately, helps the baby feel safe, and builds immediate trust in you as it’s new peep. Grab a clean hand towel and sit down in your favorite spot, place your baby lovebird on your chest or belly along with some millet spray and cover with your towel but so he can still you, this blocks out stimulus and lets your new baby get to know you. Once he’s calm, cup him in your hand, cuddle him and give him smooches! This little guy needs all the attention you can give him, they’re not called lovebirds for nothing, they want and need contact and attention pretty much as much as you can give them.
Lovebirds are also little devils! They’re tiny and can get into big trouble, so always keep an eye on your lovie, especially around animals. Cat saliva is potentially deadly to lovebirds so use extreme caution around cats. Lovebirds are also escape artists, make sure you have something holding the cage doors closed…they can lift small cage doors and get out easily.
This is not a comprehensive care guide for lovebirds, but just some helpful information for bringing home your first tame baby lovebird. Here’s an article with some more basic lovebird care
And here’s a link to a list of household toxins….too many things are toxic to lovebirds and this is an important thing to read up on, ….even teflon pans can kill a lovebird =(
Hopefully you’re not too scared to get a baby lovebird now, they are a ton of fun, but it is a bit like raising a child and the rewards are wonderful!
Your first time with a lovebird and you have no idea what you need? There are basics of course, food, water, shelter, then there are toys and some miscellaneous other things you’ll need.
Food, the best thing you can do for your lovebird is to provide a varied diet. The worst thing you can do is provide a seed only diet as this diet does lead to liver problems. A lovebirds diet should consist of several things including seeds, a good pellet, fresh foods, and live foods. When selecting seeds and pellets keep in mind the small beak, the pellet size I get is ‘crumble’ and to the left is a photo of the seed mix I use. Live foods are going to be things like sprouts or edible plants, my lovebirds will decimate a large sunflower seed head in no time, every last bit and wheatberry sprouts (photo on the right) they cannot seem to deny themselves. The only thing that keeps them from their sprouts is baby greens, they love their baby spring greens like crazy. Those would be fresh foods and I chopped mine. Other healthy fresh foods for your lovebirds are red bell peppers, any chili pepper, kale, collard and turnip greens, broccoli, wild and brown rice, whole oats, mung beans, sweet potato, squash, and carrots. Avoid processed foods like ‘pearled barley’ or white rice as they have already lost too many nutrients, instead find whole barely or brown and wild rice (I get a great mix of this at Sprouts and lovebirds love these sprouted!). Fruits are good but in high in sugar so should not be used in any great proportions; guava, papaya, and citrus are good ones to use.Also planning a post on phobias…if your lovebird has phobias, there is help!
Some foods to avoid are
Chocolate isn’t digested by bird. The darker the chocolate the more toxic.
Caffeine is also metabolized differently.
Avocado some are also toxic to birds with the skin and pit being the most toxic parts
Onions are known for causing hemolytic anemia in dogs… there is not enough research in feeding it to birds. But it should still be avoided
Salt will cause an increase in water consumption which could be difficult on a birds kidneys
Alcohol should also be avoided.
Apple seeds contain cyanide, remove them before you give them to your birds
Mushrooms have a potential of being toxic as well and cause stomach upset.
Dairy is not digested in birds because they don’t have the necessary enzymes to process it.
Dried beans. cooked beans are fine but raw beans contain a poison called hemaglutin which is very toxic to birds. To avoid exposure, make sure to thoroughly cook any beans that you choose to
Tomato leaves, vines and stems. Any plant from the nightshade family, potatoes, peppers, eggplant. The fruits of the plants are fine to feed, just not the green parts.
Raw Peanuts in Shell-Peanuts in a shell can harbor fungus, aspergillosis. Really not a safe food to feed your birds.
Spinach-should be fed in moderation due to the oxalic acid inhibits calcuim absorption
If in doubt about whether a food is safe or not….please take a minute to try to find out, there are many forums on the internet that discuss food toxicity on a regular basis and it just takes a quick search to find info on anything.
Your lovebird needs you to check his food on a daily basis, it may seem like the food is undisturbed but underneath will all be hulls and dust, don’t rely on a visual inspection that your lovebird has plenty of food. It goes without saying to make sure the food is also clean and dry =) Lovebirds are messy! So plan on covered food dishes.
Clean, filtered water at least daily, more often if needed. And if your lovebirds water dish is large enough for it to take a bath in at it’s leisure, it will not go unappreciated. If it isn’t big enough for that, you are going to need to provide a dish for bathing at the very least -twice per week, lovebirds love to bathe and I have some that do it daily.
Shelter, a cage. A ‘long’ cage is far more important than a tall cage for a lovebird. If you’re getting a pet lovebird and you’re shopping for it’s permanent cage, buy the largest cage you can afford, the best lovebird cage is one like this -click the pic to purchase from BirdsComfort. Remember, lovebirds are messy! So get a skirt if available or make one if you can.
Cover the cage at night, doesn’t have to be fancy, doesn’t have to be pretty, but the dark is a scary place and covering the cage will keep your lovebird from having frights in the nights. Your lovebird does not need a sleepy tent/hut! In fact, unless you know for certain you have a male, I warn you not to get one. An article on female lovebirds is a whole other post, though =)
A cuttle bone, don’t fuss about it, don’t get the mineral blocks, just get the cuttle bone.
Natural perches in different sizes are the best! Avoid perches with sand paper or concrete as they are hard on those little feet. Different sizes help to exercise the feet and a natural perch will naturally wear down nails. I never clip toenails and you shouldn’t either. Baby toenails are always sort of sharp…..don’t worry about that, that’s just because they’re new =)
Toys! Lovebirds need toys, lots of them, and you should change them out often (it helps with boredom and phobias). When buying toys look for things with small parts. IMO it’s nearly impossible to get good lovebird toys from a brick and mortar store, shop online for best selection. Better yet, shop for toy parts and make your own. They love popsicle sticks, pony beads, straws, sea grass, corn husks, it all needs to be things that fit in their mouth, and if they can destroy it? Then that rocks. Toys with even remotely large parts are not going to be loved much and what’s the point in that? The best toy I ever made? A small piece of wood with a hole in it with cotton rope strung through it and pony beads strung on it. Do make sure you use bird safe materials for your toys and always exercise caution to make sure they aren’t deathtraps…..feet and claws can get caught in just about anything and leave a lovebird hanging for it’s dear life, more than one has lost it’s life waiting to be noticed like that =(
A swing…..every lovebird needs a swing, it just does, and the first time you see your lovebird swinging to high heaven on their swing, you’ll know why I say that.
I’m sure I left some things out but these are the biggies. mostly you need to know lovebirds have BIG personalities, so be ready for that and be ready to be tested, but they are so much fun =)