Since these birds first appeared in pairs people have been asking the question…do lovebirds really fall in love? Answers may be found in ancient legends and medieval poetry. In the animal kingdom mating is usually only for reproduction to continue the species. The emotion of love and the ideal of monogamy are not part of the equation. The lovebird is a rare exception to the rule. Lovebirds are powerful pair bonding birds.
Lovebirds are natives of South Africa and Madagascar. Their ancient fossils were discovered dating back, almost 2 million years. They lived in grassy plains, in subtropical and tropical regions. Eventually, migrating to forest regions. There are a growing number of love birds in the Southwest states in America. Worldwide there are nine colorful species of lovebirds. They are stocky parrots with a hooked bill and shortened tail feathers. So these are small birds, which measure 5.5 to 6 inches long. Like their cousin, the parrot, they have strong zygodactyl feet (two toes point forward and two point back).
Lovebirds show affection in a variety of ways. They appear to kiss when they are feeding each other or grooming. They share a nest, built by the female bird. These birds are eager to breed and have very large families.
A pair of lovebirds can become so enmeshed, with each other, that they may ignore other birds. And their bonding can affect their interaction with their human owners.
A single lovebird without a mate will often appear depressed. At that time, they will be more open to socialize with their bird owners. They require lots of attention and affection. After they bond they may even consider their owners their mates and get jealous if other birds are introduced.
The Ancient Legend of Lovebirds
Lovebirds have inspired poets and writers throughout history. In the mid 1300’s Chaucer wrote the “Parlement of Foules”, also known as the “Parliament of Birds.” The long poem was a fantasy, in which lovebirds assembled to choose their mates.
The poem contains the first reference to a celebration day for lovers, which eventually became Valentine’s Day.
There is an ancient legend from China of Han Ping and his wife. The star-crossed lovers were separated by an evil prince, who kidnapped Ping’s wife. For years they struggled to free themselves and reunite. The tragedy of Han Ping ended in the death of the lovers. And even then the spiteful prince would not allow them to be buried side-by-side. Their graves were 20 feet apart.
As if by magic, two catalpa trees grew up overnight. Within days the trees grew enormous and the tops and roots intertwined. A pair of colorful birds nested, where the trees grew together. The lovebirds cooed and cried and wrapped their wings around each other.
The lost lovers were reunited in the spirits of the birds. So today, in the Suiyang province of China there is a still a town called Han Ping, where the people keep the legend alive.
Lovebirds often mate for life. A pair cuddles, snuggles and coos with each other. And they always stay in close proximity to their partner. It’s worth noting again that lovebirds are powerful pair bonding birds.
They are also social, intelligent and affectionate avians. They are relationship oriented. And yes lovebirds fall in love!