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Opaline Lovebird

Nicole Cosgrove

The lovebird is an attractive small-growing parrot that is popularly kept as a pet bird. They come in a variety of different colors and opaline is a common favorite. They have a large bill and a rounded tail. They live for a decent length of time and the oldest opaline lovebird documented lived till 17 years of age. The opaline color is a new mutation in the peach face lovebirds and they were first discovered in 1977. The body primarily has irregular-colored patterns on its body which makes it a very attractive color version of the lovebird. The opaline lovebird is not an individual species but is rather a color and pattern mutation in peach face lovebirds.

This article will provide you with everything you need to know when it comes to the opaline lovebird!

divider-birdSpecies Overview

Common Names: Agapornis
Scientific Name: Agapornis roseicollis var.
Adult Size: 5 – 7 inches
Life Expectancy: 10 – 15 years

Origin and History

The opaline lovebird originates from the United States and the mutation occurred by breeders who bred a pair of dark green peach face lovebirds together. The opaline mutation seems to have gender-lined characteristics. The male parent transfers the gene to the daughter and the female transfers it to her son. You only need one lovebird with a dark factor gene to reproduce this opaline mutation. The females either show the full opaline color, or they lack it altogether.

Lovebirds are a small group of nine species of the old-world parrot family. Out of the nine species, only eight are native to the African continent and the other species being native to Madagascar. Most species of lovebirds are kept as pets and have been selectively bred in aviculture to produce this beautiful coloration.

fischer lovebird
Image Credit: Fischers Lovebird, Ian Gill, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0

Temperament

These are affectionate and social birds that form close bonds with their owner. Lovebirds enjoy living with their kind which satiates their need for interaction with each other. They can also be kept in breeding pairs, and they form a long-term commitment to their mate. They form strong bonds with their mates, and this is the best form of enrichment and attention they can get besides from human interaction. These lovebirds are commonly described as active, playful, curious, and full of personality for such a small bird. It is important to note that these birds can become aggressive and territorial if they have not been socialized properly from a young age. This can cause them to aggressively flap their wings or bite out of irritation and fear.

Pros
  • Attractive colors
  • Can be kept in small cages
  • Easily bond with their owner
Cons
  • Bite when stressed or scared
  • Hard to tame over 3 years of age

Speech & Vocalizations

Opaline lovebirds are quite chatty amongst each other and will frequently chirp. It is typically a low chirp that should not disturb the household too much. They do not speak as parrots do and so the control over the noises they make is low. Many lovebird owners will describe their chirping as calming and it will eventually become white noise that you will get used to.

Opaline Lovebird Colors and Marking

The opaline colorations consist of the lovebird having a red or orange head rather than the peach color that is seen in standard colored lovebirds. Their wings are typically light green or yellow, and some consist of a mixture between the two. The coloration does not fade into each other which makes the opaline lovebird stand out amongst other variations. There are many different versions of opaline lovebirds, and they can also be labeled as pied or edged dilutes. The opaline lovebird has a faint white coloration separating the head color from the rest of the body. Their features are distinct, and it is easy to determine which lovebird has opaline coloration.

  • Orange-headed Lutino opaline: The head is a dark orange color, and the rest of the body is bright yellow with dark red and lines of red at the tips.
  • Red-headed lime opaline: The face is a light orange fade with a light green body with dark red at the ends of their tail feathers.
  • Peach-faced heavy pied opaline: The front of the head is a mixture between red and orange, with the body being a light green color.
  • Red-headed edged dilute opaline: The body is completely light green, and the head is distinctive in contrast to the body as a deep red and orange coloration.
  • Red-headed green opaline: This is the most common color in opaline lovebirds. The head is set apart from the body and is a lovely ruby and orange color. The body is dark green and white feathers fade to separate each color.

Caring for the Opaline Lovebird

Cage size

Lovebirds may be small, but they require the largest possible cage to thrive. Not only does a large cage allow them to fly and stretch out their wings, but it also helps lower stress by ensuring they do not feel cramped. The cage should be above ground and away from other pets like dogs or cats. The general minimum sized cage for a pair of lovebirds is 20 inches long and 25 inches tall. This also allows you to add in enough toys to keep them busy and enriched. The more lovebirds that you plan to keep, the larger the cage should be.

Grooming

Lovebirds typically groom each other. This is a form of bonding and can help relax both birds. They will also take baths in shallow bowls of freshwater. This behavior is natural, and they will bathe more often in the summertime so that they can cool themselves down. You do not have to bathe them yourselves and you should not use any form of shampoo unless otherwise advised by an avian vet.

Companionship

Lovebirds do not have to be kept together, but it will make them harder to tame and they will miss out on the natural bond between their kind. It is best to keep them in a male and female pair or the same gender groups. Even if they get plenty of interaction with their humans, they will still not reach the safety and bond they will feel with other lovebirds.

Common Health Problems

These birds do not get many health problems if they are healthy and kept in the right conditions. Keeping your lovebirds healthy is simple if you always keep them in a clean cage with fresh food and water available. They are prone to developing several diseases that are common amongst many types of pet birds.

The following diseases are common in birds that are fighting, kept out in cold temperatures, spread through different birds, unclean environments, and rotting food. These health issues are serious and require immediate treatment from an avian vet.

  • Psittacine beak and feather disease (from fight wounds)
  • Yeast infections
  • Avian pox (from wild birds)
  • Egg binding (females only)
  • Ticks
  • Bacterial infections
  • Parasites
  • Coccidiosis
  • Intestinal influenza

Diet and Nutrition

Lovebirds are granivores and frugivores. In the wild, they will consume foods like seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, grains, corn, maize, grasses, and leaf buds. This is quite a varied diet, and it should be replicated in captivity to ensure optimal nutrition. A high-quality lovebird seed mix will suffice as a staple diet. You should supplement their diet with fresh fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, mango, and papaya. The base of the opaline lovebird’s diet should consist of 60%-80% seed and pellet mixtures, and the other percentage should be made up of fresh foods.

Exercise

The main type of exercise and enrichment your opaline lovebird should receive is through toys and a large amount of space in their cage. Your lovebirds should be able to fly to different areas of the cage with ease. This means without them knocking into toys or other lovebirds. Birds love to stretch their wings and it also allows for relaxation. Your lovebird will become stressed if they do not get enough exercise or mental stimulation. Time out of the cage is also important and they should be allowed to fly around a small, bird-proofed room.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Opaline Lovebird

You can adopt or purchase an opaline lovebird from most pet stores that sell different types of parrots and birds. They can sell for a minimum of $50 per bird, but high-grade opaline lovebird colors will cost more. Before you decide to purchase an opaline lovebird, you should check if local avian shelters have one up for adoption. The adoption fee is typically low and is in place to help support the rescue or shelter. If you are looking for high-grade opalines with rare colors, then an ethical breeder is the next best option. Breeders will typically sell opaline lovebirds for $100 to $250.

divider-birdConclusion

Opaline lovebirds can make a great addition to your family. Their small bodies are full of personality, and they are typically easy pets to care for. It is recommended to take them to an avian vet to get their wings clipped every few months. This will prevent them from flying long distances in the instance that they escape out of an open window or door. If you have a love for birds and want to add a colorful bird into your home, then the opaline lovebird is the perfect option.


Featured Image Credit: Lovebird, Helene Hoffman, Flickr, Attribution CC 2.0

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.