There is always that question in your mind when you decide you want to own a lovebird. Should I go to a pet store and look around or contact a breeder? Quite honestly, I prefer the breeder route even though I bought my lovebird at a pet store. I know, shame on me.
WHICH IS BETTER?
Well that really depends on a lot of factors. If you just have to have your lovie right away (and that is after doing A LOT of research) I would go with checking out some pet stores.
Ideally, if there is a breeder driving distance from your house, then that would be your best choice. However, this is rare for most people. I live in a metropolitan area and there are really no breeders near me.
It’s a great idea to check out some local shops. Some specialty bird shops are very reputable and you can always just walk in and look at the health of the birds and perhaps talk to the owner.
I would not recommend the large chain stores like Petco and PetSmart since they do not specialize in birds. Find out the reputation of the shop and maybe check out the reviews on Yelp or Facebook. Are the birds healthy looking? Does the owner know a lot about the species or are they just interested in your money?
You will be able to figure it out by browsing and asking questions. Many of these specialty shops have a nursery to hand feed the baby birds before putting them up for sale.
It is critical if you want a tame bird to make sure it has been hand-fed as a baby. Especially with lovebirds, as they are difficult to tame if they are older and not trusting of human hands.
Many of these birds have been grabbed at and thrown into cages in the pet trade. Another good reason why you don’t want to go with a large chain pet store, as many are frightened of human hands and it can take a long time to get them over this.
I recommend a good breeder with an excellent reputation. You can usually find this information right on the internet. Unfortunately, they are usually far away and you will have to have your bird shipped to you. This idea makes me nervous, but they do it all the time so I guess it’s safe. I just think birds are so fragile and skittish.
You will usually get a quality bird through a breeder, however. Many if not most will be hand tamed and very well cared for from the beginning. As much as I hate the shipping idea, at least you know that is the ONLY time the bird has been transported. You can always chat with the breeder online or hopefully over the phone to get a better idea of the bird’s history.
As stated before, a pet store should be your second choice. There ARE some specialty bird stores in my area that have excellent reputations and a few that don’t. Be sure to find out! You do not want to bring home a sick bird, and especially if you have other birds.
Always put a new bird in quarantine before introducing it to your present flock. Find out if the store has a vet on location or if they offer a guarantee on the bird’s health.
You should avoid large chain stores that sell lots of pets. They simply don’t know enough about birds and most just want your money. More than likely the bird has been mishandled and could quite possibly be ill.
Lovies are known for being hardy and healthy but the risk is not worth it. Besides, I think most of these places only carry Budgies and Canaries.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before deciding to own a lovebird you should do a lot of research on ownership, the types of lovebirds available (there are 3 in the US) how they will fit into your family and whether you can afford to own one. I have a post related to this subject entitled Is Lovebird ownership right for me?
Check it out and do some further reading with e-books or the library. You don’t want to have to surrender your lovie to a bird rescue. We have a large one here in New England where thousands of parrot species live. It is a tragedy as most of these birds are suffering from depression and self-destruction.
Of course there is always the option of adoption, but not if you are a first time bird owner. Many of these birds come with emotional baggage and are problematic unless you are an expert. You will be in over your head, but it’s certainly a noble idea. It’s a great way to get to know a bird by visiting a rescue; but heartbreaking as well.
Give yourself some time to shop around. Check out local bird stores, ask the staff as many questions as you deem necessary. Go to the library and get books on lovebird ownership or check out Amazon for some e-books.
Going with a pet store is not a bad idea as long as the business has a good reputation and the birds are healthy. Make sure that the bird is hand fed and not afraid of humans. It will take you a long time to gain the trust of an older lovebird that has been mishandled or neglected. I recommend a good breeder before any other option but if that doesn’t fit into your plan, no problem