Lovebirds experience grief at the loss of a loved one, just like humans do.
But will the separation of two lovebirds really result in death?
Lovebirds will not die if they’re separated, but they do experience deep sadness when they lose their partner. This grief typically lasts for several weeks and can lessen the bird’s appetite. Help your lovebird cope with grief by giving it time and attention and providing new toys and treats.
What Happens When Lovebirds Are Separated
Lovebirds are monogamous birds that mate for life, with partnerships starting at about ten months of age and lasting 15-20 years.
When they’re separated from their mates, they become depressed, and their behavior becomes erratic. This change can take a serious toll on their health in many ways.
However, it’s a myth that separating lovebirds causes death.
How Lovebirds Respond to the Loss of a Mate
A lovebird that’s grieving a lost mate may spend time calling out for or searching for their missing companion, becoming confused and upset at the lack of response.
It may lose its appetite and be unwilling to play like normal. In some cases, the bird can become chronically depressed or lonely, which causes further health problems.
How Separating Lovebirds Impacts Their Health
Lovebirds often experience grief and depression in response to a mate’s death, which links to several health problems.
These include nutritional deficiencies from loss of appetite and scarred skin from self-mutilation.
However, a lovebird’s grief typically only lasts a few weeks, and after that point, they’ll have adapted to life without their mate.
As a result, chronic health conditions associated with grief and depression are unlikely to become severe and especially unlikely to worsen to the point of death.
That said, if your lovebird is left alone for significant periods because of the loss of their companion, they may experience longer-lasting negative impacts from the loss.
That’s why it’s essential to provide proper time and attention to your lovebird, especially after losing a mate.
How To Care for a Grieving Lovebird
When your lovebird loses a companion, the best thing that you can do is provide ample amounts of love and attention while it moves through the grieving process.
Verbal praise, cuddles, and even new toys can provide some happiness to counteract the depression and help the bird feel less lonely without its mate.
However, if your lovebird is not receptive to interaction during this time, it’s best to give it space. Each bird is different, and some will appreciate having the room to grieve.
You’ll know the difference between birds’ responses to grief by whether or not they peck, bite, or otherwise act aggressively around you.
If your lovebird is showing signs of poor health in the grieving process, it’s a good idea to consult an avian veterinarian to be sure that your bird is healing appropriately and not developing a chronic condition.
It’s also important to know that your surviving lovebird hasn’t contracted an illness from the one who passed.
Should You Replace a Lovebird’s Lost Mate?
Right after a lovebird has lost a mate, it’s not a good time to introduce a new bird to the household.
Your grieving lovebird needs time to adjust to life without its old mate and will do best falling into a normal routine on its own.
In the wild, lovebirds who lose their mate will eventually find a new mate in their flock. In captivity, a lovebird may or may not have this opportunity.
But once your lovebird has had time to grieve, it may appreciate having the companionship and engagement it once had in a new mate.
Introducing a new bird to your widowed lovebird will take some patience, as adult birds are typically less receptive to new flock members than their youthful counterparts. But with time and care, it can be done.
Differences Between Grief in Humans and Lovebirds
In humans, the emotions related to grief are deep and complex and go through various stages as they progress toward healing.
While birds grieve in response to similar events, like losing a loved one, the process is quite different.
Grief in Humans
When humans experience the loss of a loved one, feelings come in phases, moving from one to the next as time progresses.
Sometimes these phases can repeat themselves or move in different directions. Each person is different, and so each person’s experience of grief will be different.
The phases of grief that people typically go through after a loss include:
- Denial: After a loss, feelings of shock or numbness can happen, where the reality of the situation has yet to sink in. People may also use denial as a defensive mechanism to avoid dealing with the idea of life without their lost loved ones.
- Anger: The frustration and helplessness that comes with a loss can quickly turn to anger as the reality of the situation sets in. This anger could be directed inward or outward, and even toward the lost loved one.
- Bargaining: When a person doesn’t want to accept the loss of their loved one, they may be consumed with thoughts of what might have happened if only things had been different or try to make a deal with a higher power.
- Depression: Once a person begins to recognize the reality of a loss, deep sadness will often set in, leading to a loss of appetite, problems sleeping, and overwhelming loneliness.
- Acceptance: Once this stage happens, the grieving person will accept the situation and move on with their life. They’ll continue to feel sad about the situation but won’t be halted from continuing to appreciate life.
Grief takes a long time for humans to process, in many cases. This is especially true in the loss of a loved one, like a partner.
Grief may also not totally go away; reminders of a loss can bring a person back to any of the five phases of grief years after a loss has happened.
Grief in Lovebirds
In lovebirds, grief is a shorter and less complex process and has much to do with confusion as it has to do with sadness.
A grieving lovebird will continue searching for its lost mate, and it’ll take time for it to understand what’s happened.
Once a lovebird accepts that its mate is gone, it won’t wrestle with the causes of the loss in the same way that a human would.
Lovebirds are also less likely to reenter the grieving process years later. They tend to move on more quickly than humans and don’t bear the weight of reminders of their companion later on in life.
Human & Lovebird Grief: Similarities
Both humans and lovebirds experience a deep sadness that results in loss of appetite and loneliness after losing a loved one.
They both understand when their mate is gone and feel heavy loneliness in response.
Humans and lovebirds can both benefit from professional help during this time. However, the help that a human receives is more complex and emotionally focused.
In contrast, the help a lovebird receives is mostly meant to relieve problems associated with loss in appetite and nutritional deficiencies or the effects of self-mutilation.
Human & Lovebird Grief: Differences
The primary difference between grief in humans and lovebirds is that human grief is much more complex and longer-lasting.
Birds tend to move on fairly quickly and may even have a new mate within short order of losing their first one.
Humans take longer to develop acceptance of their loss and may later be reminded of the loss.
Lovebirds won’t die if they’re separated, but they will experience deep sadness and experience a loss in appetite associated with depression.
You can help your lovebird cope with grief by providing time and attention, and maybe even some new toys.
Only after some time has passed should you consider adopting a new mate for your lovebird.