Lovebirds: development of a clutch from egg to hand raising

Kitekeeper

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Hi all,

I would like to share this story with you and hopefully help to provide more information to anyone that is beginning to breed lovebirds.

This is the story of a pair of Agapornis roseicollis peach faced lovebirds that are also from the "long feather" lineage. A friend of mine is an enthusiast with the "long feather" and provided me a couple that was about to lay their first clutch. "Long feathers are found only at roseicollis species and a can reach sizes up to 50% bigger than a common roseicollis. They also have more fluffy feathers and a brightest tone of colours.

Some of you have already met with Mango (the red faced male) and Marina (the white faced female). Mango is the ancestor / wild colour pattern which I find very beautiful (Red, green with a blue rump) and Marina is a dutch blue opaline mutation, also a gorgeous shade of blue green body.


20211005_102938-1-1.jpg


Roseicollis lovebirds use to bath frequently when they are feeling a rising interest in mating. The first time they bathed together was last August 28th and the morning after I observed the first (unsuccessful) attempt to copulate.

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August 29th was also the first day Marina showed interest in putting stripes of straw in her rump and thus starting nest building.


August 30th I observed a successful mating and then exactly 10 days later the first egg was laid.

The clutch usually come as eggs laid every other day, it was not like that for this clutch as the first and second eggs were just 24 hours apart. Marina put five eggs at September 10th, 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th. The incubation was made almost entirely by Marina, with Mango sitting in the perch outside looking very bored. He fed her in the nest during that phase.

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The first two eggs hatched at 23 days of incubation, eggs number three and four hatched at 22 days of incubation and egg number five was accidentally perforated by the parents just after egg number four hatched, when they were trying to clean shell debris of number four egg that were covering egg number five. Chick of the egg number five did not survived being forced born two days earlier.

IMG-20211003-WA0001.jpg


The egg shell debris covering the egg in the picture above was quite similar to the situation that lead to egg number five perforation. Above you can see the first chick minutes after hatching. The parents seems to feed very little the babies in their first day of life.

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Above, the next day was hacth day for baby number two. You can see the difference between the colour of the down of both babies. Baby number 1 which is belly up has a orangish down meaning it belongs to the yellow/green series, baby number 2 (belly down) has a whitish down typical of birds from the white/blue series.

Below you can see that all four eggs hatched, but only baby number 2 has whitish down. The other thee are from the yellow/green series mutations. In that picture Baby four had just hatched and babies one, two and three were 4, 3 and 2 days old.

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At the ages of 6 and 5 days old, babies number one and two had already pin feathers showing up along their spines.
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As soon as baby number four hatched I started to follow the degree of crop filling every two hours. I attributed a percentage degree and wrote in a logbook to detect if the couple was having problems to feed all four babies.

I had noticed that Mango was showing evident signs of fatigue when the first baby was 7 days old. Mang was responsible for feeding Marina and the babies, so I guess too little food was stopping at his own crop and he started to sleep a lot in the perch, particularly in the early hours of the morning.

At that point in time, with babies ranging from 9, 8, 7 and 5 days old respectively, my logbook accused that Marina was feeding less and less babies number three and four. She stopped to feed the youngest altogether when he was 6 days old and I started to feed this baby every two hours. It was not easy with chicks that young as you can see below:


Unfortunately this young chick was found dead in the next morning. I then put all my efforts to save baby number three and start a five days effort to feed it while letting it in the nest with the its siblings. It was a very sad moment as the baby simply would not develop an inch. No pin feathers, just a very little progress in size and its eyelids where about to open, but all this with maybe a one week lag. This baby also was found dead in the morning when it had 10 or 11 days old but looked like a 5 days old chick.

Baby number three taught me two lessons. Marina knew what she was doing when she stopped feeding the last two babies. Something was wrong with them, she knew it somehow and yet as very patient with me trying to save the babies and putting them back in the nest. The second lesson is that animals bred in captivity are more prone to have babies born with weaknesses that make them impossible to save.

Below they are 12, 11 and 10 days old


That´s how a clutch of five turns to a clutch of two... Thankfully the two older chicks were doing very well, below you can see them with 16 and 15 days old.

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Considering Marina and Mango were in their first clutch, they were performing very well! Nevertheless they were showing signs of fatigue and the babies were nowhere close to the 40-50 days they take to leave the nest. Besides that, I think that a baby born in captivity can have a better life if it learns to not fear humans, so I decided to hand raise the two brothers.

When they reached 20 and 19 days old, they were good to go to the "school" to learn not to fear humans. I´ve prepared two boxes to keep them individually enhancing the bond they might develop with people. The boxes were kept side by side all the time and under a heat source carefully positioned to avoid overheating.

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I´ve fed them the best available baby formula we have here:

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At that age of 20 days old I´ve fed them every three hours, filling their crops with 5 ml of formula each.

Below is baby number 1, that I named as Kwanza (which means "first" in Swahili) as a triple reference as it was the first born, it has the ancestral colours and a reference to the species native continent.

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Below its brohter, the dutch blue baby that was named as Nisha

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Since they still have weak legs at that age, I´ve put a cup inside the box to accommodate the babies with their legs close together. Their legs will be strong enough to not spread and allow them to walk when they are about 26 days old.


One week later, Kwanza and Nisha with 27 and 26 days

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Below is Kwanza 33 days old


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvJ6K5XUPd0&ab_channel=BluebirdC


and Nisha 32 days old

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmto9KJrjIs&ab_channel=BluebirdC


This video below is to show them together. Kwanza already shows a much more social personality, looking to interact with its sibling and with me. Nisha is more independent and less sociable as it shows no will to interact other than to get food :D :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSehVH3U7fM&ab_channel=BluebirdC
 
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LaManuka

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Such a lovely thing for you to do in compiling your journey with these babies, Kitekeeper, thank you! There will be many members who will benefit from being able to access the valuable info, observations and videos contained in this thread. I hope you will post some more video of your adorable babies soon, I'm looking forward to seeing them all grown up!
 

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Kitekeeper

Kitekeeper

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Thank you LaManuka, Laurasea and MrLaurieKeats! :)

Some more videos to warm the soul:

Feeding them at the same time and they politely wait their turn..... or try their wings


They patiently waited in the swing for the picture and then it was exploring time again! In the end you can hear the call I always made when feeding them as a cue to call them back when they start to fly or get too afraid of something.


Nisha seemed to understand better than Kwanza what that I was trying to make them feel the perch and stepped up to show its sibling :)

 
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LaManuka

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Oh your babies are delightful!! Just look at those little wings go!! Give those two little sweeties an extra kiss from me, won't you Kitekeeper? They're so completely adorable ❤️
 
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Kitekeeper

Kitekeeper

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Hi all,

I guess I can finally bring to this thread an update.

When I first hand raised a lovebird it was 20 years ago and I could not remember how the whole process developed. I was kind of disappointed that after all that time there was little information about lovebird breeding and particularly hand raising them. That´s one of the reason I started this thread.

Now I am happy to give it a sense of closure as both Kwanza and Nisha are weaned. That process was far from a straight forward one, however.

The babies had two wildly different personalities. The first baby is the green/red bird that I named Kwanza. It seems to me that it is a female. She was from the beginning (while a nestling) a little bit shy and still is. On the other hand she is really sweet, so soft on her touch, always eager to interact, but in a very polite way. Baby number 2 is still not clear to me which gender is the bluegreen bird. I named this one Nisha and its personality has always been more active and agitated. Both are now able to mimic the call I use to make when I hand fed them. I did it as a cue to help them to locate me by sound, just in case. Nisha could also be a female as females are much better to learn to copy sounds than males in lovebirds.

Regarding the weaning process, I started it when they reached 45 and 44 days old respectively. First I offered them the formula in a more consistent texture using a spoon to teach them to use their beaks to fetch the food.



They took very little to learn how to "bite" the formula, but their time to learn to eat pellets by themselves was incredibly different!!

After two days giving them the formula with a spoon, I started to offer crumbles of pellets mixed in the formula and offered a permanent dish with pellets in the cage. At that point I would feed them only twice a day to encourage them to eat the pellets of the dish. Water was also offered in a vertical water feeder.

It was my surprise to see that Kwanza, despite all her shyness learned to eat the pellets and to drink from the water feeder in just five days!!! She was completely weaned at just 50 days old.

Nisha could not go more differently. It did not learn to eat the pellets or drink from the feeder for the next 25 days!! I had to keep spoon feeding Nisha for the entire period for at least once in a day and had to offer water in a bowl. At first I was not sure Nisha was in trouble as I could observe it nibbling the pellets, although I had not seen it drinking water. Nisha started to loose weight, sleep a lot and that was the cue to understand s/he was not weaned yet. Eventually I changed the brand of the pellet and that was more of its taste. I admit Nisha got me worried but eventually with close observation, willing to take a step back and change the brand of pellets everything went well.

What strikes me most is that they are siblings and yet developed so differently. So a lovebird can be fully weaned at 50 days or maybe not until 70 days old 😬 :) ;)
 
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LaManuka

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I love these videos of your baby lovies, Kitekeeper ❤️ I just sit here grinning like an idiot at them and making silly "aaawwww" and "oooohh" noises! They look like they're turbo-charged! :D
 
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Kitekeeper

Kitekeeper

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Thank you La Manuka, as always you are very sweet!! :love::love:

Thank you BBKiss, looking forward for your experiences breeding parrots :)

Both babies are now almost 3 months old and enjoying a very funny phase. They play all day long and test their voices A LOT!! They are changing the voices also, and put themselves in unusual positions like laying down belly up...the result is some anxious high pitch screaming 😬

As a side note, considering the parents took care of them for just 20 days and could rest for a good time, I gave them another shot. Currently there is a clutch of six eggs, the fourth chick hatched today. The first three chicks are from the blue series, so there was a chance of 6.25% that the fourth wold be also blue. Statistics played its role and this one is from the yellow/green series...wearing a bright carrot orange down.
 

Beak-Beak-Kiss

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Thank you La Manuka, as always you are very sweet!! :love::love:

Thank you BBKiss, looking forward for your experiences breeding parrots :)

Both babies are now almost 3 months old and enjoying a very funny phase. They play all day long and test their voices A LOT!! They are changing the voices also, and put themselves in unusual positions like laying down belly up...the result is some anxious high pitch screaming 😬

As a side note, considering the parents took care of them for just 20 days and could rest for a good time, I gave them another shot. Currently there is a clutch of six eggs, the fourth chick hatched today. The first three chicks are from the blue series, so there was a chance of 6.25% that the fourth wold be also blue. Statistics played its role and this one is from the yellow/green series...wearing a bright carrot orange down.
Oh Kitekeeper, I did not intend on breeding. We had a gender identification mishap with an alleged DNA sexed male. Now I’m raising 2 special needs sun conures! I think they are going to take a long time to wean especially due to their rotational leg issues. (You can see their progress in my Hindsight is 20/20 thread.) I want to keep Hazel on lifelong softened food anyway due to her risk of choking/aspiration. I tried to do a ground pellet paste yesterday with a feeding spoon, but they were less than thrilled and wanted their formula in a syringe. I left a small plate of the mash in the brooder and they went to the other side of the box and ignored it. They aren’t ready yet (and neither am I). I’ll try a little every day.

Your birbies are so beautiful…thank you for sharing!
 
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Kitekeeper

Kitekeeper

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Budgerigar (Bud), Pacific Parrotlet (Sam), Roseicollis lovebird (BJ and Turq), Linneolated parakeet (Charlie and Emma)
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I did not intend on breeding. We had a gender identification mishap with an alleged DNA sexed male. Now I’m raising 2 special needs sun conures! I think they are going to take a long time to wean especially due to their rotational leg issues. (You can see their progress in my Hindsight is 20/20 thread.)
I´ve just read the whole thread! What an amazing job you are doing, such a striking story!! :love:
 

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