The Black Masked Lovebird is a small parrot that makes a fine pet bird when raised and handled properly. Like all lovebirds, they can have a propensity for aggression with their own species. These birds are best kept in pairs, or if singly, with plenty of attention from their human caretakers. They can also be kept in larger colonies if given enough space.
Overview of the Masked Lovebird
The scientific name of the Black Masked Lovebird is Agapornis personatus and there are no subspecies. They are small, companion parrots that measure about 5.6 inches (14.4 cm) and weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 1.75 ounces (43-50 grams). North and Central Tanzania is where these birds originate from and they are not threatened in their native environment. According to parrots.org, they favor well-wooded grasslands in the wild.
Other common names of the Black Masked Lovebird are the Masked Lovebird, Yellow-Collared Lovebird, and Black Faced Lovebird. They are named for their distinctive black mask. The mask makes for a striking contrast to their brightly colored green and yellow plumage. Black Lovebirds cannot be sexed by sight, though in some cases aggressive and nesting behavior can be an indicator that the bird is a female. DNA testing is the most reliable method of gender determination.
What Do Black Masked Lovebirds Look and Sound Like?
These lovebirds have a white eye ring that stands out against the background of their black mask and makes them appear to always be very alert. Yellow breasts and green feathers with a dark red beak make them very colorful little birds. Selective breeding has resulted in some mutations such as the Blue-Masked Lovebird, whose mask is still black but has a blue and white body rather than the traditional yellow and green.
Mimicking human speech is not one of the talents displayed by this bird species. They make a high-pitched twittering call that some owners consider pleasant by parrot standards. Check out the video below to see what a pair of Black Masked Lovebirds acts like.
What is it Like to Keep Black Masked Lovebirds?
Lovebirds, in general, are very energetic and the Black Masked is no exception. Your birds will likely chirp throughout the day, so if you are looking for a quiet bird, this may not be the best choice. They are notorious chewers so rope toys and perches need to be avoided as the birds will chew and ingest the fabric, causing digestive problems. They are not suitable for interacting with small children as they can be nippy.
These birds are friendly but are not as cuddly as some other small parrots such as conures. Lovebirds need a mate, and another lovebird is the best choice. Strong bonds form between lovebird mates (whether another bird or a human) and the bird can be aggressive with others. It is not recommended to introduce another bird to a bonded pair as they will generally attack the bird. When kept in colonies with appropriate space, this aggression is minimized.
These birds are intelligent and can be trained to step-up, turn around, retrieve objects and other simple tricks. Patience is the key and you want to develop trust and avoid letting your lovebird get into the habit of biting. It will try to use this behavior to control you if you allow it to do so. They will also shred paper if given the opportunity, even that expensive book you left on the table, so caution needs to be taken.
How Should I Care For My Black Masked Lovebirds?
These birds do well in moderate, indoor temperatures of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius). Minimum cage size for a pair of these birds is 24x24x30 inches high. As they are very active, you cannot go wrong with a larger cage. Bar spacing of 1/2 inch is best for the bird’s safety. Plenty of toys are appreciated, as are swings and perches for mental and physical exercise.
The dietary needs of your lovebirds should be met with a high-quality pelleted diet as their main food source. Supplement the pellets with sprouted seeds and fresh fruits and vegetables. Mineral blocks and cuttlebone are good supplements to promote healthy bones. Millet and nuts make excellent treats.
Nails can become overgrown and trimming is usually required periodically. These birds love to bathe and in their native habitat, often congregate near water. Baths should be offered regularly and augmented by misting your bird several times a week.
Molting can occur twice a year and is an especially stressful time for your lovebird. Your bird will become more aggressive and you need to be patient and understand what your bird is going through. They can also exhibit signs of tiredness, loss of appetite and screaming. According to PetHelpful.com, you can do these things to help your bird get through its molt:
- Provide more toys as chewing will distract the bird and release healthy hormones.
- Baths are a great way to minimize the discomfort while your bird molts.
- Softly scratching your bird’s head can also help your bird feel better.
These birds are readily bred in captivity and can be bred in pairs or in larger colonies. Indoor breeding can take place at any time of year, though parrot-bird.com cautions against allowing a bird to have more than 3 broods per year. The hen will lay 3-6 small white eggs that will hatch in about 20 days.
How Healthy Are Black Masked Lovebirds?
Your bird can live up to 20 years in captivity with proper care. With a healthy diet, they are hardy birds but can have respiration problems, liver disease, and feather disease. Behavioral changes may indicate a problem and necessitate a trip to the vet.
How much Do They Cost?
You can obtain a Black Masked Lovebird starting at $80 dollars and may pay a bit more for some color mutations. Costs for a cage and food are moderate, though toys for chewing will need to be replaced often.
Is This Bird Right For Me?
Black Masked Lovebirds make nice pets for owners who want a companion parrot that may be less demanding than some other choices. Housing a pair together will keep the birds occupied and allow you to interact with them as well without needing to expend the time required if you just have a single bird. If they sound like fun to you, then plan on getting a pair!