Raising Lovebirds: How To Care For a Lovebird chick?

Caring for newborn lovebirds requires attention to detail and dedication right from the start. From the moment they hatch, lovebirds are incredibly vulnerable, relying on their parents for warmth, protection, and nutrition.

So, let us get right into it and discuss the crucial moments when you need to step in and take on the role of a nurturing caretaker.

Feeding a lovebird chick from day 1 – A labor of love

Feeding a lovebird chick right from the day that it is hatched is a labor of love.

Why do I say so?

Parent birds feed their young pretty much throughout the day and that is what you will need to do for the first five days of your lovebird chick’s existence. This means waking up multiple times in the middle of the night, so be prepared.

Establishing a feeding schedule

Establishing a feeding schedule for lovebird chicks is of utmost importance. The right schedule will determine the survivability of the chicks and their future health.

I suggest that you feed a newborn lovebird chick every two hours. for the first five days. After that, you can take the frequency down to every three hours till day 14.

Image 14: Lovebird parent feeding chicks (image courtesy YouTube; permission unavailable).

What food to hand-feed a lovebird chick

I typically use hand-feeding formula to feed a newborn chick. Look at the label when you are selecting a hand-feeding formula. It should have 22% protein and at least 10% fat.

Apart from formula, I add the following to a chick’s diet:

  • Probiotics that have lactobacillus (for digestive bacteria) – parent-fed baby lovebirds get these bacteria from their parents but we have to replace them for purely hand-fed chicks.
  • Pureed papaya diluted with water (for digestive enzymes) – just like above, these are needed for chicks that are exclusively handfed.
  • Electrolytes like Pedialyte (only needed for the first 5-7 days) – electrolytes help because chicks tend to dehydrate fairly quickly
  • These three can be mixed in small quantities with the formula when feeding the lovebird chick

Preparing the formula: Tools needed

I use the following tools to feed a chick:

  1. A feeding syringe or an eye dropper with a narrow mouth
  2. Thermometer to keep a check of the temperature
  3. Disinfectant to clean the syringe clean (10% hydrogen peroxide or bleach solution)
  4. Slightly damp cotton balls to clean up the chick
Peach-faced Lovebird Chicks

Feeding the chick

I find this to be the most tricky part. But like with everything else, practice will make it easier.

Newborn chicks are initially quite uncooperative. For the first day, you may feel it to be quite challenging to feed the tiny bundle. But be patient. I find that once they get the hang of the feeding process, things ease out quite quickly.

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    Newborn chicks are tiny and barely fit the palm. Be very careful when you handle them. 

    Measuring the quantity of the feed

    I give 6-7 drops of formula per feed on Day 1. I increase it by 1-2 drops per feed every 1-2 days. I suggest that you watch their crop closely to see when they are full.

    Initially, you will find that a lot of feed does not go inside the bird. Please only count the drops that actually go inside. Use the damp cotton balls to clean up the chick after the feed. Please make sure that the cotton balls are lukewarm.

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      Maintaining the temperature of the feed

      Parent-fed lovebirds get their food at 105 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the temperature that we need to maintain for our feed.

      The best way to keep the formula warm when you are feeding it is to keep a glass of clean, hot water with you. Keep the water in the glass at around 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit.

      I keep it higher than the temperature at which to feed the chick because the food tends to go cold pretty fast from the dropper to the chick. Give the dropper or the syringe a quick dip in the hot water before you feed the chick.

      Weaning a Lovebird Chick

      Before you start the weaning process, consider moving from a syringe to a feeding spoon. It will be less messier and the weaning process will be easier.

      You can start off the weaning process at around four weeks of age.

      To wean the bird, start with offering soft foods. Sweet peas, steamed rice, pears and apples chopped into small pieces are excellent weaning foods to start off on.

      Replace one feed with weaning foods and keep at it for a few days. Slowly, you can start replacing more and more hand-feeds with weaning foods.

      Make sure that you keep the diet mix healthy and nutritious. Also note that baby birds in general need more fat content in their food than adults.

      Midway in the weaning process, you can look to introduce soaked and broken almonds and walnuts. Just add 2-3 pieces at most.

      Dirt and Cleanliness

      It is important to keep the nest box clean. Although, you do not need to keep it spotless. Think of how the chicks will be in the wild. The parents keep their nests clean but they do not wipe them down every day!

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        Here are some things that you can do to keep the nest box clean:

        1. Spot-clean daily: Quickly check and clean out the general space that the chick is in.
        2. Wipe down surfaces with bleach: Every three days, get the chicks out and wipe down the surfaces with 1 part bleach (or hydrogen peroxide) and 3 parts water. At the end, wipe the surfaces down with a damp, clean cloth to remove any chemical residues.
        3. Keep the chick clean: The chicks tend to get a lot of food on their bodies when you feed them. Clean the food immediately off their body by using cotton balls dipped in lukewarm water.
        4. Use replaceable lining: Use things like used newspaper etc that you can replace to line the nest box. Replace the lining every 4 to 6 days.

        Socialization

        Socialization is crucial for lovebirds to ensure their well-being and adaptability. Properly socializing them from a young age helps to prevent behavioral issues and aggression that can arise from fear and lack of exposure.

        To effectively socialize lovebirds, it is important to expose them to new surroundings, toys, foods, and people gradually, but early in their life.

        Within the first few weeks, you can start by introducing them to different areas of your home and gradually expand their environment.

        Provide a variety of toys and rotate them regularly to keep them stimulated.

        Slowly introduce new foods into their diet, ensuring they receive a balanced and nutrient-rich diet. Offer them a range of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains, allowing them to explore different tastes and textures.

        Introduce your lovebirds to different people, both in and outside of your household, to help them become comfortable with unfamiliar faces. Encourage gentle interactions and positive experiences, rewarding them with treats and praise.

        By following these steps, you can help your lovebirds to develop a positive and adaptable mindset, enabling them to cope with change and thrive in various environments. Remember, socialization is a lifelong process, so continue to expose them to new experiences and provide them with a loving and stimulating environment.

        Training a Young Lovebird

        As we have maintained through thousands of articles on this website, the best way to train a bird is through positive reinforcement.

        Training a young lovebird is not much different from training any other bird in the parrot family and we encourage you to go through these resources for more information.

        Supporting the parents

        Supporting the parents of newlyborn baby lovebirds is also important. Given that their nesting instinct will be high, line their cages with newspapers that they can tear off. That will make for excellent nesting material that you can clean off easily.

        And when you are caring for a baby lovebird, it is easy to neglect the needs of the parents. Make sure that you have fresh food and water available for them as usual. Please take care not to change their diets too much.

        What to do if things do not work out

        It is important to accept that things always do not work out. The most experienced of breeders also do not have 100% of their birds survive.

        So, it is important to be emotionally prepared for this loss. If you lose a chick or two, do not focus on the loss. Instead, give your best to care for the remaining brood.

        You are likely to experience the loss early in their lifecycle. Most often, the weaker baby lovebirds will not survive more than 6-8 hours after hatching.

        But sometimes, you might find a chick doing well suddenly go downhill and pass quite quickly. Something like this can be caused by disease. So it is important to keep the other birds safe and ensuring the illness does not spread.

        Also, it is more likely to lose a chick or two (or the entire brood) if the parents are inexperienced and they do not know how to care for the chicks.

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          Difference between hand-raised and parent-raised lovebirds

          Hand-raised lovebirds are raised by humans from a very early age.

          They are typically more socialized and accustomed to human interaction compared to their parent-raised counterparts.

          Hand-raised lovebirds tend to be more comfortable being handled, which can make them easier to train and bond with.

          Their human-centric upbringing often results in a more affectionate and people-oriented bird.

          But this also means that hand-raised birds need a lot more attention as compared to parent-raised birds. After all, humans have been their flock since their birth.

          Raising lovebird chicks FAQs

          Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the raising of lovebird chicks.

          1. How do I incubate lovebird eggs?

          To successfully incubate lovebird eggs, you will need an incubator that maintains a consistent temperature of around 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5 degrees Celsius). It is crucial to regularly rotate the eggs to ensure uniform heat distribution. The eggs typically hatch after about 23 days of incubation.

          2. How should I handle lovebird chicks?

          Gentle handling is crucial to ensure the well-being of lovebird chicks. Wash your hands before handling them to prevent the spread of germs. Hold them securely but avoid squeezing or putting excessive pressure on them. Gradually increase the duration of handling to help them become accustomed to human interaction.

          3. What are some common health concerns for lovebird chicks?

          Lovebird chicks are susceptible to health issues such as respiratory infections, nutritional deficiencies, and feather plucking. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and a clean environment can help prevent these problems.

          Raising lovebird chicks can be a joyous yet challenging experience. I hope that I have been able to answer your questions with this article. If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them.

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