Interview with the successful breeder of Red-headed Lovebirds Dominique Veeckmans. PART I

May 19th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Interview with the successful breeder of Red-headed Lovebirds Dominique Veeckmans. PART I

Dominique, you have a very nice collection of lovebirds. Tell us when did you start with breeding of birds…

In early 2005 I saw the first wild colored Masked Lovebird (Agapornis personatus). At that time I decided to start breeding birds, I immediately became a member of BVA (Belgian Society of Lovebirds Breeders). Today, I am also a chairman of this association and I am working on publishing of the BVA journal. Furthermore, I visit many members in Netherlands and abroad and I write many articles that appear in the BVA magazine. My intention is not to participate in exhibitions, but just keep birds as a funny hobby. It is an excellent way how to relax after busy work.



cages intended for young Masked Lovebirds



The successful breeder Dominique Veeckmans


So you started with Masked Lovebirds, do you still breed them?

Yes, I do. Ten years ago, it was very difficult to find pure birds of the wild colored Masked Lovebird. They were of poor quality. Most of the birds which you have seen at the markets were small and had some red on the chest. What is more, they always split to some mutation.

After a long search I met an older man who was quitting the hobby because of health problems. This man had three couples of pure wild colored birds with a beautiful yellow neck that were not split to any mutation. I bought them immediately. My goal was to build a pure line of wild colored Masked Lovebirds. Later I swapped a few young birds with good German breeders who also had pure birds.

I have made strict selection and each year the birds have become better. Finally my goal with Masked Lovebirds was achieved and now there are already many of our birds moved to breeders from different countries such as Spain, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Denmark and even the Philippines and Venezuela. In 2005, I wanted also to begin with the Red-headed Lovebird (Agapornis pullarius), but everyone was telling me that it is so difficult to keep these birds alive. I decided to gain experience with the Masked Lovebird and later I wanted to start with Red-headed Lovebirds.



Red-headed Lovebirds


Can you describe us your facility?

We have two breeding rooms. In the first breeding room I have 18 plastic cages 80cm x 40cm x 40cm and 3 cages 60cm x 40cm x 40cm. In the second breeding room I’ve built 4 aviaries 1m x 2m x 2m. There are also 6 breeding cages 100cm x 40cm x 40cm, 7 breeding cages 80cm x 40cm x 40cm and 4 breeding cages 60cm x 40cm x 40cm.

We also have an outdoor aviary 3m x 3m x 2.5m high connected with the breeding room. I put birds into this aviary when the breeding period ends.


Let’s talk about Agapornis pullarius – the most interesting species in your collection. How many pairs of this lovebird we can find at your place?

Pullarius is a very difficult bird to keep alive! The number of European breeders who have these beautiful birds in their collection can be easily counted on two hands. I personally know nine bird breeders who own them. In 2011, I bought a large collection of 14 couples for the price of a small car. This was a huge opportunity, so I took it. I have two breeding rooms, and one had to be emptied for A. pullarius. I also had to reduce my A. personatus collection from 32 pairs to 18.

Into one of four indoor aviaries in the room intended for Red-headed Lovebirds twenty young Masked Lovebirds have been put. A few days later I was a proud owner of a very beautiful collection of Agapornis pullarius.



The first egg


Do you have any bad experience with acclimatization of this parrot?

From the first day I immediately noticed that these birds displayed a high level of stress. Lovebirds refused to eat from the food bowls. I had provided Chinese and French millet.

They ate the French millet, but not the Chinese millet! This species can be very picky.

Three days later the nightmare began with a dead male followed by a dead female a few days later. Some couples finally started to eat something, but three more birds died in the subsequent week. I slept badly for many nights; I wondered every morning whether another would have died.

One thing was certain: the noisy personatus had to be removed from the neighbouring aviary. I immediately took them away and the next day Red-headed Lovebirds were calmly sitting on their perch without displaying any signs of stress. They also started singing and communicating with each other. They also became more curious. Since that time, I haven’t had any more dead bird.

IMPORTANT experience!

Never put noisy birds in the same space where you want to keep pullarius!



The cork is the best nesting substrate for Red-headed Lovebirds


In what cage size do you breed this species?

I keep the pullarius in cages 80cm x 40cm x 40cm and in the aviaries 1m x 2m x 2m. The breeding goes well in both. It is best to prepare the cages and aviaries so pairs can see each other. This stimulates the birds breeding behaviour!


Do you use cameras for observing your birds?

I installed a camera to see and observe what they were doing. This enabled me to see what had happened in the cage during the previous 24 hours. When breeding other lovebirds you just put a nestbox into the cage and two weeks later you will have eggs inside. It’s not so simple with pullarius. I know breeders where it took 1 to 2 years before they start nesting. Their mutual stimulation is so important for them. It’s almost necessary to keep more pairs in one room so they are in the visual contact.



Three healthy chicks…


Can you explain why breeders of this species put cork blocks to nestboxes?

In the wild, they use termite mounds for nesting. Such way offers them a favourable microclimate with constant heat and ventilation. We use cork blocks because they insulate well. This is necessary because young pullarius are hatched naked and when the young birds are 6-10 days old, the female leaves the nest. She visits the nest a few times a day only to feed the young birds.




Photos: (c) Dominique Veeckmans



  1. Pingback: Interview with the successful breeder of Red-headed Lovebirds Dominique Veeckmans. PART II | Parrots Daily News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Parrot News Blog | Parrots Daily News

Follow by Email8k