Do Lovebirds Grieve Over a Lost Mate?

By Todd Bowerman

When faced with the death of a mate, humans go through an extended grieving period. While most animals do not possess the complex range of emotions that humans possess, many animals still experience grief when exposed to a similar loss. Lovebirds, which form strong bonds to their mates, do show signs of grief and distress if a mate passes away.

Bird and Human Grief

Human grief is a complicated process that involves a wide variety of emotions. Lovebirds may not run through the full gamut of ups and downs typical of the human grieving process, but they will notice the absence of a missing mate. When a lovebird has had one mate for many years, the loss of that mate will be traumatic to the remaining bird. Birds are social animals and know the difference between having a friend and solitude.

Symptoms of Grief

Signs of grief in birds may be subtle or obvious. Your lovebird may search his cage for his missing mate, or may call out for frequently than usual. He also may lose his appetite and might not be as keen to play. Grief in birds doesn't last long, however, and after a few weeks the lovebird will likely have adapted to his new routines. As with human grief, sometimes the only cure is time. Birds, like other animals, are quite resilient.

Helping Your Lovebird

You can't immediately solve your lovebird's grief problem, but you can make it easier for him to move on. Provide him with more attention than usual, give him lots of verbal praise and affection, and try introducing some new toys into his environment. Helping him fall into a new routine is the best way to get him back in his normal happy spirits. If he's not feeling friendly, give him space to grieve. It's best to wait on adding a new bird until you and your lovebird have fallen into a happy new pattern.

Your Own Grief

When working to make your lovebird feel better, don't forget to take time to grieve for your lost pet. Both you and your lovebird will need to learn new routines that don't involve the second bird, and focusing all of your attention on the grieving bird may prevent you from grieving yourself. One excellent method of honoring a pet who passed away is making a donation to a local shelter or rescue in the pet's name.

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