Grey-headed Lovebirds (Everything You Need to Know)

Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Ali Shahid

Grey-headed lovebirds, also known as Madagascar lovebirds, are a small species of parrot belonging to the lovebird genus. They are mainly green parrots, with the adult male having grey on its upper body, while the adult female is entirely green.

They are native to the island of Madagascar and are the only lovebird species that are not native to the African continent. In this article, we will cover everything related to grey-headed lovebirds, including their taxonomy, physical characteristics, behavior, habitat, diet, breeding, and aviculture.

Grey-headed lovebird Taxonomy and Habitat

According to experts in the field of ornithology, grey-headed lovebirds are a fascinating species belonging to the Psittacidae family, a group that encompasses parrots, macaws, and cockatoos. These charming birds are categorized within the Agapornis genus, which comprises a total of nine distinct lovebird species. The grey-headed lovebird goes by the scientific name Agapornis canus.

In their natural habitat, these lovebirds are commonly encountered in lightly wooded areas, including savannas, semi-arid scrublands, forest peripheries, clearings, and even in the vicinity of rice fields adjoining disturbed woodlands and human settlements, such as towns and villages. While they are known to soar to altitudes of up to 1,000 to 1,500 meters, their primary dwellings are typically at lower elevations.

Grey-Headed Lovebirds in Aviculture

According to experts in the field, grey-headed lovebirds made their initial appearance in European aviculture during the latter part of the 19th century. At that time, when imports were allowed, and these charming birds became widely accessible for aviculture, there wasn’t much focus on their breeding.

It was observed that they exhibit a preference for breeding during the autumn season, and due to their low tolerance for cold weather, breeding them in captivity was generally met with little success. Additionally, these lovebirds tend to be quite skittish and easily startled when placed in an aviary setting.

This behavior added to the challenges of successful breeding in captivity. Consequently, it remains relatively rare to find grey-headed lovebirds thriving in captivity, with only a small number of skilled breeders managing to successfully reproduce more than one or two generations of these delightful birds.

Physical Appearance

According to research by wildlife experts, the grey-headed lovebirds, a species within the lovebird genus, are known for their diminutive size, measuring around 13 cm (5 inches) in length and weighing about 30–36 grams. Notably, their beak and feet are characterized by a pale grey hue, a distinguishing feature that has captured the attention of experts in the field.

These lovebirds display sexual dimorphism, a well-documented phenomenon in their species. Adult males are recognized by their pale grey heads and upper chest. In contrast, adult females exhibit a vibrant green plumage, which extends to their dark green back and wings, a lively green rump, and a paler green chest.

Even in their juvenile stage, grey-headed lovebirds closely resemble their adult counterparts, with one key difference: young males have a subtle wash of green on their once predominantly grey heads.


According to a study on grey-headed lovebirds, these birds are known for their robust flying capabilities. They can swiftly attain high speeds and execute agile maneuvers effortlessly. However, it’s important to note that they may not be as nimble in the air as peach-faced lovebirds, as observed by wildlife experts.

In captivity, grey-headed lovebirds have been noted by experts to display a nervous and easily startled disposition, particularly in an aviary environment. This behavioral trait makes them relatively rare in captivity, and according to experts, only a select few skilled breeders have successfully reproduced more than one or two generations of these birds.

Are Grey-Headed Loebirds Common in Captivity?

Grey-headed lovebirds aren’t your run-of-the-mill pet birds. In fact, they are considered quite rare in the realm of captivity. Only a select group of highly skilled breeders have succeeded in raising more than a generation or two of these charming birds. Breeding them in captivity poses significant challenges, making them infrequent inhabitants in the world of aviculture.

For the typical bird enthusiast, the odds of having a Grey-Headed Lovebird as a pet are relatively slim, given their rarity in captivity, as noted by experts in the field.


When they are ten months old, lovebirds may start breeding and continue to do so for five to six years. One clutch can produce several eggs within one year, and they are very prolific.

These factors make them widely available as pets. The behavior between breeding partners changes during the breeding season.

Males become more aggressive, and females begin nest preparation. Specifically designed nesting boxes for lovebirds are available, but a cockatiel nesting box will do just as well.

The females construct almost all of the nests. There are usually three to six eggs in a clutch that take about 23 days to incubate. At about six weeks of age, the chicks leave the nest under the care of the female.


A 23-inch-long enclosure, 20 or 25 inches high, would be sufficient. For ease of washing, it is a good idea to cover the enclosure platform with gravel and keep the enclosure poles to one centimeter in diameter.

Be aware that lovebirds prefer quadrilateral or rectangular enclosures to elliptical or house-shaped enclosures. It is not necessary to fill his enclosure with many trinkets.

Diet and Nutrition

According to a comprehensive study conducted by experts in the field, Grey-headed Lovebirds have been observed to be meticulous foragers when it comes to their diet. According to biologists and wildlife experts, these small parrots exhibit remarkable precision in their search for sustenance. Their primary sustenance, as revealed by this research, consists of a diverse array of foods, with fruits and various grass seeds topping the list.

According to the findings of this study, Grey-headed Lovebirds have a particular fondness for smaller grains, such as those found in chickweed seeds, Poa annua seed heads, white millet, Japanese millet, and panicum.

The research also highlights their discerning palate, showing a preference for finch and canary seeds over the more common sunflower and millet blends consumed by their lovebird counterparts.

This selective feeding behavior, as reported by wildlife experts, showcases their specialization in seeking out specific food sources in their environment. In the wild, according to these experts, they can often be seen in large flocks, especially when there is an abundance of food sources available.


The bird doesn’t like being touched very much. Grey-headed lovebirds require early training and socialization so they feel comfortable and confident around humans. Hand-training your lovebird is best performed with towels tucked under mirrors and over open windows in a confined area.

Make sure you handle it every day. Praise and treat it whenever it behaves well. Lovebirds are often kept in pairs because many people think they should always be together.

You can still care for your Grey-Headed Lovebird without a mate if you provide him with plenty of affection and attention. Although, multiple birds are recommended.

Health Issues

The average life expectancy of the Grey-Headed Lovebird is 20 years. Those who are not adequately supplemented, self-mutilated, or infected with chlamydiosis may suffer nutritional deficiencies. Keep your Grey-Headed Lovebird healthy and happy by visiting your vet regularly, feeding it a high-quality diet, and playing with your pet.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What do GREY headed lovebirds eat?

Unlike most other lovebirds, grey-headed lovebirds prefer canary and finch seeds over sunflower and safflower mixes.

What is the grey-headed lovebird price?

Because Grey-headed lovebirds are difficult to breed, there are no breeders who breed these birds, and you will not find Grey-headed lovebirds for sale, so it is impossible to determine their price.0.


  • Ali Shahid

    Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.

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