Consenting Adult Love Birds

My first introduction to love birds came when a coworker decided to rehome her pair of normal peach faces to me.  She loved them, but felt they needed more attention.  I took them home and set their cage by a window, next to my cockatiels and finches.  When the cockatiels had out time, I had to cover the lovies so they wouldn’t bite the toes of any birds that landed on their cage.  I didn’t let the lovies have out time because they weren’t very tame.

They were totally interested in each other, and no one else.  They were noisy, they were messy, and they were quickly more than I could handle at that time.  I lived alone in a small one-bedroom cottage in San Diego, and I felt their beady little eyes follow me around the house. Their high-pitched chirps hurt my ears.  I began to cover them more and more, which is not good for the birds.  So when I found a friend who would gladly take them, I was relieved.

Some years later, as I wandered around Balboa Park, I saw a busker with a tiny bird sheltering in the front of his jacket.  I asked what kind of bird that was, because it was so adorable.  “Love bird,” I was told.  I stared.  “But, love birds bond to each other, don’t they?”

The young man was seated on the ground, and looked up at me with a touch of exasperation.  In a tone reserved for the very young or the very stupid, he said, “Not if you hand feed them, and have only one.”

I don’t think there were fireworks in the park that night, but I certainly felt a burst of enlightenment.

More years passed in which I got married, raised kids, and found a local bird club.  At one of the first meetings I attended, my daughter won a hand-fed love bird, a pretty dilute green male.  She was in to web comics and manga, so the little bird was named Piro.

Piro became, and still is, the stud of my love bird breeding program.  He’s no longer tame, but he certainly knows how to please the ladies.

I came to rehome a flock of love birds from a club member who passed away, and rehomed in turn most of those.  I kept one beautiful lutino (yellow color mutation) bird whom I hoped was female, and named “her”  Laurie.  One of her siblings was a stunning pied that I named Piper.  I’ll wait while that sinks in.

At this time Piro was single again, and I thought he and Laurie would make a good pair.  But when I supplied a nest box, no eggs were laid.  I had to face the fact that Laurie was a male.

Love birds, and most hook bills, believe in bonding equality.  The two boys bonded, and preened each other and fed each other and went on happily enough.  But I wanted to breed them, and soon I found a beautiful pied normal peach face girl.  I separated Piro and Laurie, and introduced Aura to Laurie’s cage.  There was no volcano eruptions or trains through tunnels, but there was no violence toward each other either.

I had to be sure Piro and Laurie couldn’t see each other, or they would hang on the side of the cage as close to each other as possible.  As it was, they called to each other regularly.

After a week, I decided to switch out the boys, and put Piro in with Aura.  This worked pretty well, as Aura liked Piro and Piro knew what to do with her, but he still called and looked for Laurie.

One of the first rules of keeping love birds is to never keep more than 2 per cage.  No matter what.  I had broken that rule before and not had any blood shed because of it.  I began to wonder if I could put these three birds in one breeding cage.

Yes.  Yes, I could.  Laurie was overjoyed to be in with Piro again.  Piro welcomed his buddy with lots of chirps and cuddles.  Aura was slightly aggressive to Laurie at first, but did not persist when Piro did not back her up.

I gave them access to a nest box, and lots of palm fronds for nesting material.  They set to work and soon only the boys were seen outside the nest box.

It’s been a few days, and so far no eggs have been laid.  But all the signs are there, and at night, Piro and Aura stay in the box while Laurie stands guard outside.  This love bird menage a trois seems to be working and doesn’t have any draw backs.  I am prepared to move Laurie if Aura becomes too aggressive with eggs or chicks, but the current arrangement is working fine.

And yes, they are consenting adults, as far as love birds are concerned, so no need to be offended.  I wonder if I should have a parson finch brought in to sanctify the arrangement?

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