With Valentine’s Day here, the term ‘love birds’ couldn’t be any more relevant. We thought we would take the opportunity today to discuss the animal behind the name – the real love birds.
Love bird is the common and well-known name of Agapornis, a small genus of parrot. There are eight species within the genus, and are native to Africa. Their feathers have a very distinctive colouring of green, yellow and orange. Love birds are fairly small in stature – 13 to 17cm in length, with up to a 24 cm wingspan. They are among the smallest parrot species, characterised by a stocky build, a short blunt tail, and a relatively large and sharp beak.
This species of parrot are fascinating creatures, so we thought we would put a list together of our favourite love bird facts.
Love birds mate for life
Love birds reach sexual maturity at around ten months old. They begin displaying courtship behaviour, and once they have attracted a mate, they tend to stay with them for the rest of their 15-year average lifespan. Monogamy is essential to the social stability of flocks and underlies much of their social behaviour. If and when a love bird’s mate dies or gets separated from the flock, it’s companion can suffer with behaviour similar to depression.
Love birds live in holes
Love birds make their homes in holes within trees, rocks or 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.
Love bird numbers are dwindling
Select species of love birds, such as the black-cheeked love bird, have been classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red Listing of Threatened Species. The latest survey has put their population to be around 10,000 birds in total in the wild. These numbers are expected to reduce rapidly over the next 10 years too. Their biggest threat is climate change, as it is causing draughts which in turn, dries up their water sources.
Individuals feed each other
If breeding pairs of these parrots have been separated for a prolonged period of time, they often feed each other to re-strengthen 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.
The inspiration behind Valentine’s Day
Scholars typically cite a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer as the first evidence of the connection between the religious celebration of Saint Valentine’s day and romantic love. The poem, “Parliament of Foules,” happens to feature two birds which exhibit the same treats of humans when it comes to being in love.