Black Masked Lovebird

A beautiful bird with clear bright coloration, the Masked Lovebird also referred to as the Black Masked Lovebird, makes every bit as good a pet as the Peach-faced Lovebird. Some even suggest that they may be a bit calmer, though others say they are just as mischievous. Either way, they will make a delightful and enjoyable addition to any household.

This small parrot is an excellent beginners bird being relatively hardy, easy to care for, a willing breeder, and reasonably priced. It is a most playful, intelligent, and amusing little companion.

The Masked Lovebird is very social and loves companionship. Their natural behavior is to live closely with a companion so are often kept with another lovebird. Though they make a very fine and affectionate pet when hand-raised, they will need a lot of attention if kept singly. Most are kept in pairs to satisfy their considerable need for constant companionship, mutual preening, and socialization.

Scientific Name: Agapornis personata personata    There are a some popular color mutations of the Masked Lovebird, and while this bird is described by its face, the ‘mask’, the mutations are described by their body color. The most common varieties are the Blue Masked Lovebird and the Green Masked Lovebird; and then there are the more uncommon varieties such as the medium blue (cobalt) and the dark blue (slate).

   The Masked Lovebird is native to northeastern Tanzania in Africa. They inhabit dry areas with shrubs or trees bordering forests, usually near bodies of water. They were originally discovered in the late 1800′s but were not imported until the 1920′s.

   The Masked Lovebird is a very small member of the parrot family. They have a general green plumage. The head is brownish-black with a yellow collar around the neck. The throat and upper breast is also yellow, though with a reddish-orange cast. The feathers of the rump and onto the upper tail are bluish, and the tail also has occasional orange and black markings. The eye is dark brown surrounded by a naked white eye ring. The beak is red and the legs are gray. The females in this species are slightly larger than the males. The young are duller especially on the head and they have black markings on the beak.
The Masked Lovebird belongs to a group of lovebirds called the ‘eye-ring’ species. There are four eye-ring species, with the other three being the Fischer’s Lovebird A. p. fischeri, Black-cheeked Lovebird A. p. nigrigenis, and the Nyasa Lovebird A. p. lilianae. This group can be identified by the obvious strong ring around their eyes. They are closely related and will interbred readily if kept together, even though they are different species. It is strongly urged that you keep these species separate to maintain their natural forms, as breeding within each species itself produces the most beautiful color mutations.

Size – Weight:
The Masked Lovebird will get up to about 6″ (14.5 – 15. 5 cm) in length.

Care and feeding:
A roomy cage is required as lovebirds are very active. If you have a tame pet that is kept in a small cage, it needs to be let out for extended periods to fly about.
In the wild the Masked Lovebird eats seeds as well as agricultural crops, especially maize and millets. As a pet they will enjoy a variety of seeds, fruits, vegetables, and commercial pellets.
Social Behaviors:
In the wild they are seen in small flocks, and occasionally larger flocks when feeding in ripening crop fields.
A lovebird is a very social bird with it’s companion, and it is generally thought to be essential for their good health and happiness that they be kept in pairs rather than singly. They can, however, be aggressive towards other birds in an aviary setting.

Activities:    Loves to fly, climb, and play. Provide lots of room and lots of toys.

The masked lovebirds are an excellent choice for the beginning breeder. These birds will breed as either single pairs or in colonies. In the wild these birds nest in the holes of trees, in crevices of buildings, or take over the nests of swifts. When you provide them with a nest box be sure to also provide lots of willow twigs, strips of bark, or other nesting materials.
The hen will lay three to four eggs which are incubated for about 21 to 23 days. The young fledge (leave the nest) in about 44 to 45 days. When they become independent, remove the young to their own housing.

Breeding/Reproduction    One of the pleasures of lovebirds is that they are easy to breed. For breeding lovebirds, each pair of birds will need 2 nest boxes for sleeping and nesting. These boxes need to be of the same type and size, and placed at the same height on the same wall.

  • Breeding Lovebirds
    Lovebirds will breed willingly as single pairs and some species of lovebirds can be bred in a colony setting. Especially suited to a colony are the white eye-ring group of lovebirds.
  • Breeding Age for Lovebirds
    Lovebirds need to be at least 10 months old, though 12 to 13 months is better. Also birds that are 5 to 6 years or older should be retired from breeding.
  • Sexing Lovebirds
    Some visual characteristics that may aid in determining sex are that the female is heavier bodied than the male and will sit more broadly with legs apart, while the males sit more upright. A females tail will appear more square while a males will appear more rounded. When observing the nesting behavior, the female will do most of the nest building work.
    An anal inspection can be done but takes experience in sexing these birds to make a fair determination. Basically there are two bones called the ossa pubes on the ventral side of the pelvis and the female will be spread wider apart than the male.

    The sexing of lovebirds falls into three categories:

    • Dimorphic Types
      The first group are different in their outward appearance and can be classified as dimorphic.
      This first group consists of:
      Abyssinian Lovebird Agapornis toranta
      Madagascar Lovebird Agapornis cana
      Red-faced Lovebird Agapornis pullaria
    • Intermediate Types
      The second or intermediate group are harder to differentiate by appearance.
      This group consists of:
      Peach-faced Lovebirds Agapornis reseicollis
      Black-collared Lovebird Agapornis swinderniana
    • Monomorphic Types
      In the third group, the white eye-ring group, there are no definite differences that can be seen. The sexing of the white eye-ring group must be determined by either a surgical probe, endoscopy, which can be done by many veterinarians or by a DNA testing, usually a blood sample or a few plucked feathers sent to be diagnosed in a lab.
      In the white eye-ring group are the:
      Masked Lovebirds Agapornis personata personata
      Fischer’s Lovebirds Agapornis personata fisheri
      Nyasa Lovebird Agapornis personata lilianae
      Black-cheeked Lovebird Agapornis personata nigrigenis.
  • Breeding Environment
    If you are breeding lovebirds in a colony setting, it is very important to provide many more nest boxes than their are pairs of birds to minimize fighting. The nest boxes should all be the same and mounted at the same height of the enclosure. Also, be diligent in watching for fighting as it can lead to death.
    A nest box for a lovebird is 8″ x 8″ x 8″ (20 x 20 x 20 cm) or 10″ x 6″ x 6″ (25 x 15 x 15 cm).
  • Egg Laying and Hatchlings
    The female will lay about 5 eggs, though the clutch could be as few as 3 eggs or as many as 8 eggs. The incubation period is 22 – 25 days, with 75% to 80% of the eggs hatching. The hen will start to brood after the second egg is hatched. Often the male will join the hen in the nest. The chicks will begin to leave the nest in about 38 – 50 days and will be independent about 2 weeks after leaving the nest.

Potential Problems    Lovebird ailments, signs of illness to be aware of, include if a bird seems withdrawn, its feathers are ruffled and the plumage is dull, it sits with its eyes closed, watery or dull eyes, runny nose, it sleeps a lot, it looses interest in its environment, and it stays at its feed cup. The droppings may change color and be loose (if healthy they are grayish white and not to thin). A couple other lovebird ailments to watch for are a lot of tail bobbing, dropping off its perch, odd breathing, sneezing, and excessive scratching.
Some of the common lovebird ailments, illnesses your lovebirds could contract, are injuries from fighting, Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, Polyoma Virus Infection, yeast infections (Candidiasis), Avian Pox Virus Infection, bacterial infections, internal parasites, mites, ticks, egg binding, intestinal influenza, coccidiosis, respiratory ailments, and diarrhea. An ailing parrot should be taken to a avian veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Availability    The most available types of lovebirds for sale are the Peach-faced Lovebird, the Masked Lovebird, and the Fischer’s Lovebirds. There are many beautiful lovebird mutations developed from these three groups of birds that are also readily available. Many other species of lovebird are available but not be as readily found. Lovebirds are also fairly inexpensive little parrots.