I have been keeping lovebirds since my childhood when I was a school going kid. I first time bought lovebirds when I was in eighth grade and that was a pair of Fischer’s lovebirds. I have the experience of keeping lovebirds both as single pairs in individual cages as well as in small colonies of four pairs. By far I can say that breeding results I achieved in colonies were far better than individual cages.
Breeding results in individual cages as well as in aviaries mostly depends on the type of species you breed. The most common types of lovebirds such as the Fischer’s lovebirds, Peach faced lovebirds and the Masked lovebirds breed better when they are kept and bred in colony settings. This refers back to their natural instinct of breeding in the wild and this behavior is replicated in captivity.
Other species of lovebirds such as the Madagascar lovebirds, which I don’t have the experience of breeding anyway, is a better breeder when kept in single pairs. So you must be very sure which lovebird species you want to keep and select the type of cage accordingly. Also how many pairs you want to keep is also a determining factor in selecting the type of cage you should purchase or build yourself.
I have the experience of breeding lovebirds in different aviary sizes. The first colony I built for my Fischer’s lovebirds was a 4 feet square colony and I kept four breeding pairs in that cage. The breeding results were excellent with four pairs and each pair was raising 4-5 chicks in each clutch. But that aviary size had its disadvantages because it was difficult for me to inspect my birds because cage height was too short.
Now I am using aviary sizes of 4’x6’x7′ in height with ten or more pairs in a single large flight. Large cage sizes with more birds gives them the sense of security and a stress free environment and the better breeding results you get. What I realize now is that the depth and height of the aviary is more important than the front of the colony. The more deep the cage the more they get focused on breeding.
The environment and place of the colony is very important for their long term health and breeding. Make sure the aviary is situated in a well ventilated place where there is a lot of air passing in and out of the colony. Do not place your lovebirds colony in a place where there is excess heat and direct sunlight on the aviary especially in South Asian countries where the summer gets too hot.
The colony should be covered well with a roof so that the rain water do not enter their breeding boxes or pots because you may risk the chicks getting wet in the rain water. The roof should be in a slope so that the rain water may not accumulate on the top of the roof and consequently enters inside the cage. I have made water holes at the base of the colonies for water drainage in case if any rain water enters inside the breeding colonies from the sides.
Wire mesh with spacing no more than 1/2 inch is ideal for lovebirds. The wire should be strong enough so that lovebirds may not cut it out and fly away because they have very strong beaks and they can cut wires that are not strong enough. Wire mesh is preferred over bars because with it they can climb easily. Cages with darker colors gives the better view of the birds inside.
Make sure that you build an aviary that is easily cleanable. I have made double doors on all my colonies, the smaller one for placing food and water dishes and the bigger one is for cleaning the cage and inspection. The colonies with more birds in them need to be cleaned frequently at least once every week so that there may not develop any bacterial and viral infection in your birds.
I cover all my colonies with a green cloth so that any direct sunlight may not enter inside the colonies in the hot summer season. It also helps to lower down the temperature in the surrounding areas of the colonies and protect my birds from extra heat in the day time. It provides an increased sense of protection and security for my birds from predators such as eagles and cats. It also protects the colonies from winds and heavy rains.
The sticks you place inside the cages should be of varying sizes and shapes to keep their feet in good shape. Sticks should be considerably thick so that they can have a firm grip on them while sitting. If you can, place natural tree branches in the aviary because they are of varying diameters and are good for their feet. Also they provide a natural living environment for your lovebirds. Place the food and water dishes away from perches so that they may not get contaminated with droppings of birds.
The cage should be constructed from iron, steel or similar material and should not be constructed from soft wood. Lovebirds have very sharp beaks and they have a habit to gnaw anything and everything that is inside the cage. They can easily chew cages made from wood and similar material and you risk your birds chew the cage and fly away in a very short time.
I made all my colonies with angle iron and with separate frames for each side. I fixed them together with welding spots which provides them extra strength and they do not move. All my cages are three sides of wire mesh and one side is fixed with the wall. I can easily detach the frames and move the cages to some other location anytime I want. Also transporting the cage is easy because each frame is separate.