Grey-headed Lovebirds breeding. PART II

May 2nd, 2016 | by Oldrich Siska
Grey-headed Lovebirds breeding. PART II
Breeding
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Read also the first part of this article:

Keeping and breeding of the Grey-headed Lovebird (Agapornis canus). PART I

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Unfortunately, some time later I lost two young males which I bought at ZOO. It had happened in a few days and I still do not know what was the cause. I had really bad luck with this species. However, I was still hoping that at least one of two pairs might nest, eventually. At that time I still had one pair, spare female was sold. Interestingly, when one of the pairs was removed the second pair changed its behaviour completely. Birds started peeling willow and elder bark and spent considerable amount of time in the nest boxes. They visited both – one conventional and one from tree log.

Because the pair stayed undecided which nest they will use I wanted to remove the bigger log. However, when I looked inside, two eggs were found. Finally, I decided to leave there both nest boxes but with time birds stop visiting the smaller one. At that time, I fed my Grey-headed Lovebirds with dry seed mix with grated apple and carrot. This mixture was dusted with commercial eggfood and grinded egg shells. The good thing is that in this way of feeding birds are forced to dig through fruits, vegetables and other foods before they reach their favorite seeds. This pair also learned to consume Zupreem pellets.

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Grey-headed Lovebird breeding male (c) Oldrich Siska

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One hatched chick was found at the next nest inspection on December 9th. Four days later two more chicks hatched, two eggs were infertile. This pair seemed not to be disturbed with inspections. The female incubated both eggs and also chicks very well. The male was mostly staying outside of the nest. Unfortunately, I lost one of the chicks. Two others survived and because their feathers start growing I was almost sure that they are two males. At that time, I found out that the female is plucking them on head and back. Therefore, I decided to take them out of the nest to hand raise.

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For the first few days, I set brooder temperature at 28°C. Both chicks were fed with Harrison’s formula supplemented with Avian Enzyme product. Frequency of feeding was 1ml of formula per chick every 4 hours.  I was using syringe for hand feeding. A week later, I already fed with double amount every five hours. One of the males had small problems with digestion so I provided them cumin tea. On January 27th, both males were moved from the brooder to a small cage. Temperature was kept around 23°C. A few days later, young males started consuming millet spikes, sponge biscuits and pieces of apple. With time, they have learned to eat all offered foods.

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video: (c) Nelson Cruz, Agapornis Madrid

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When I took chicks from the nest box, the pair built a new nest from peeled bark and two eggs were laid then. A few days later I found the female sitting on the floor. She could not lay the next egg. Therefore I catched her and gave a few drops of Calcium syrup to the beak. After that, she was moved to a brooder with constant temperature 30°C. Fortunately, the egg was laid undamaged. Along with the egg I placed the female to aviary. She started incubating immediately and also laid one more egg so in total the clutch counted five eggs.

The pair raised two chicks, eventually. This time it was a male and female. The difference between sex is easy to recognize as soon as feathers start growing. My pair of Greay-headed Lovebirds raised three more nests and then, unfortunately, the breeding female died.

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For the whole time, I kept these birds in a room at temperature around 20°C and humidity 60%. Two pairs of Senegal parrots were breeding at the same place.

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Grey-headed Lovebird chicks, 15 days old (c) Oldrich Siska

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Chicks with her mother (c) Oldrich Siska

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I would summarize my experiences with Grey-headed Lovebird as follows: these birds are not for beginners. I consider them to be delicate species which are very sensitive especially when moulting. Half of all eggs was infertile in my case but all fertile eggs have hatched. From 17 hatched chicks, just 11 survived.

I bred this species in both bigger aviaries and smaller cages. However, pairs have never bred when they were in visual contact with other individuals of the same species. The ZOO which sold me a few young birds, breeds this species in a larger aviary together with starlings.

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Title photo: (c) AEM. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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