Some of the rare and eye-ring lovebirds are more difficult to encourage to breed. In general, once I attach a nest box to the cage of a pair of peach-faced lovebirds, there will be eggs in about three to four weeks. With black-cheeked lovebirds (Agapornis nigrigenis), one of the rare species, I’ve learned that they reproduce on their own time. The most I can do is give them the nest box, the proper breeding materials and the most suitable environment possible.
Black cheeks like to build nests, and their urge to reproduce is strengthened when they go through the process of building their nest with the appropriate materials. Also, they tend to be a little more finicky about who their neighbors are. Sometimes they don’t like being next to peach-faced lovebirds or other lovebirds that aren’t black cheeks. They could become intimidated, which might mean no baby black cheeks!
I was unable to get my adult black-cheek pairs to lay fertile eggs in 2006. One of my goals for 2007 is to produce some of my own black-cheeked babies. One of my black cheeks, Captain Morgan, is a champion lovebird. In order to make champion, a bird needs 50 points under at least three different judges and a 1st place win. Captain Morgan was able to achieve this status on December 31, 2006, when he satisfied all the requirements. He is no doubt a superb bird and will produce show-quality black-cheeked baby lovebirds.
You can imagine why I wanted to produce offspring from him – he was not getting any younger! I talked to everyone I knew who had successfully raised black-cheeked lovebirds, and it seemed that it was very commonplace for there to be infertile eggs. I wasn’t going to show Captain Morgan and disturb him until he felt comfortable enough to have some babies of his own. Guess what? On February 3, 2007, the very first black-cheeked baby lovebird hatched. There are now two babies in the nest box.
These are the things I did differently:
• I layered the bottom of the nest box with a little Carefresh bedding. Then I cut strips of palm fronds and placed them in the cage, not the nest box. I continued to supply them with palm fronds until their building nest was done. Palm fronds can be bought at the local florist and are readily available around Easter. I bought some last year and kept them in my refrigerator. Another thing that can be used is Timothy hay or willow branches.
• My aviary has three levels of shelves, and each level can hold multiple cages. I separated out all the rares and eye-ring lovebirds onto the right side of the aviary, so they would be separated from the peach-faced lovebirds.
• I put my two black-cheeked pairs on the top most level, because one thing I learned was that they don’t like other cages or birds above them and, in the past, they were not on the top most level. Also, instead of only setting up one pair of black cheeks, I setup two pairs because I’ve heard that other black-cheeked lovebirds nesting nearby will encourage all the black-cheeked lovebirds to produce fertile eggs.
• Disturb them as little as possible. My peach-faced lovebirds usually don’t really care if I’m constantly checking the nest box to see what’s going on, but my rares and eye-ring lovebirds sometimes like a little more privacy.