AFRICAN GREY: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Original Article WorldBirds.Org
by Garth C. Clifford
Common name: African Grey Parrot
Latin name: Psittacus Erithacus
Group name: Flock
Diet: Herbivore (Nuts, fruits, small insects, and seeds)
Adult size: Up to 13 inches long
Adult weight: 400 grams.
Life expectancy: Captivity – 40 to 60 years, Wild – 20 to 23 years
Color: Predominantly grey
Sounds: Vocal communicator
Interaction: Highly social
Origins: Western and Central Africa
African grey parrots are the natives of the lush green African forests. They are highly social birds that live in large family groups.
An African Grey Parrot is a lovey-dovey bird. If you don’t take proper care of it in a domestic environment, it will exhibit self-harming behaviors and will die. Therefore, it needs social interaction with the owner.
As it is a very chirpy and loveable bird, there are some important points that you need to keep in mind for its survival in the domestic habitat. And in this brief guide, we are going to highlight those points for your assistance.
African Grey Parrot
The African grey parrots are also known as Grey Parrot Congo or African gray Congo. It is an old-world parrot and once was considered as a subspecies of grey parrot. But now it is recognized as a full species.
Now let’s find out how long do African greys live. African grey parrot lifespan can go up to 60 years in captivity.
However, the African grey lifespan is shorter in the wild, which ranges from 20 to 23 years. African grey in the wild is exposed to more predators and other dangers.
These birds are very loveable. Vocal communication with other group members is very important to them. Their survival depends on it.
If they get bored, which they normally do in a domestic setup, they begin to exhibit self-violence.
African grey parrots are medium-sized birds that are predominantly grey in color. They have a black bill, and adults weigh around 400 grams and can reach up to a length of 13 inches.
Their wingspan ranges from 46cm to 52 cm. There are white markings on the features throughout the body, as well as the wings. These factors influence the African grey parrot price in the market.
African grey parrots have a very friendly relation with humans. They can mimic human speech, and hence, they are very popular among us.
It is the most special trait that these birds have, and that’s why most people prefer to have them as a pet.
Origin and history
African grey parrots are native to most of the equatorial African regions.
The nations that these birds call their home include Congo, Cameroon, Angola, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Ivory Coast. These birds are particularly found in thick and dense forests.
But they are frequently found on the edges of these forests as well as open areas of Savanna.
You will also find some of these birds close to the human habitat. And for thousands of years, these birds have been pets for humans.
There are references available about these pets being in the household in the old Egyptian times.
And for thousands of years, these birds have been pets for humans. There are references available about these pets being in the household in the old Egyptian times. (1)
The reason why this bird has been so popular is its ability to mimic human words as well as speech. It can also understand and react to human speech.
If you properly train your African grey parrot, it can learn several words and even phrases as well as sounds.
They prefer to eat seeds and fruits. The simplicity of the food that they consume is another reason why these birds are very popular with humans.
However, in 2016 African grey parrots endangered list was added to Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Native region and natural habitat
As mentioned above, African grey parrots are native to most of the equatorial African regions—the current global populations of this bird range from 600,000 to over 13 million.
But the population is declining across the globe. It favors dense forests, and with the reducing number of forests, the cause of the declining number is obvious.
Another most common reason for the declining number is the increase in their pet trading. The African grey parrot has been deliberately released into Florida as there is no evidence of natural breeding populations of these birds in these regions.
For those of you who are thinking what is the natural habitat of African grey parrots, well, these grey birds prefer to stay in the thick, dense forests. It is because there is an abundance of food available.
They like to eat fruits, nuts, small insects, and seeds. All these foot types are easily available in such habitats. Therefore, the decline in forests across the globe has been one of the significant reasons why these birds are decreasing in numbers.
These birds have to deal with several threats in the wild. Palm-nut vultures are their natural predators. Additionally, monkeys look to eat their eggs, but humans are by far the biggest threats to these big African birds due to pet trade.
Temperament and personality
African grey parrot intelligence is widely known, and Congo grey parrots have high parrot intelligence. They are the most intelligent of all parrot species.
A number of these birds turn out to be very affectionate and loving to their family members in the wild or their owners in captivity. These birds are very sociable and friendly towards humans as well.
However, being an owner, if you leave a grey African parrot alone bored or neglected, then you will turn your birds into an angry one. An angry or depressed Congo parrot will screech to display its discontent.
In such a scenario, you will have to provide your parrot with plenty of mental calm and stimulation.
Let’s find out how to get an African grey to like you. As it is a very intelligent bird as compared to other parrots, its mental state is also far more complicated than the rest of the parrot species.
This parrot demands interactions and is very social. But that doesn’t mean this bird is very cute and cuddly. Some of these African grey parrots become used to one single person.
It means that they will not socialize with any other person but the owner. No matter how much they try to socialize with other family members at your home. Even regular interactions won’t make them change their minds.
Behavior and training
For those of you who are thinking, do African grey birds talk? Yes, they can talk. There is not much known about the behavior of these birds out there in the wild. It is due to their secretive personalities to avoid predators.
But the wild African greats are mostly known to have similar traits of the ones that are captive. Are you thinking of how smart are African greys?
According to the African grey facts, also suggest that these birds out there in the wild can also mimic more than 200 sounds from the surroundings, including other songbirds.
As these birds are very sociable, and they love to interact, stimulating them consistently is important. If they get tensed or angry, they will start screeching, and when that happens, then regaining their trusts becomes a major issue unless you can stimulate them.
Due to the lack of trust, they sometimes show, introducing them to the new family members becomes a tough job as well. Some parrots won’t even get used to any other person than the owner.
Therefore, training them and understanding African grey noises’ meanings can be difficult, but you have to keep stimulating them and keep encouraging the interactions.
They are more comfortable with regular interactions, and they don’t want to be neglected at any cost. For better training, you must feed them with a lot of their favorite food.
Regular exercise is another way to keep your African grey parrot stimulated. Too much feeding can also leave your parrot bored.
Therefore, you need to keep your bored indulged in an activity. With exercise, a parrot can also maintain good health.
For an exercise, the best practice is to allow the bird one or two hours outside its cage. You can also provide your bird with several bird-chew-toys that will allow the African greys to make their beak more powerful.
You can also design different types of play areas for them where they can jump around obstacles and walk around using their wings.
Furthermore, you can design an area where they can fly around as well.
It’s just a way to keep them busy and adequately stimulated. Just make sure that you provide them with plenty of colorful chew toys to play around with.
They will love those toys. You will also notice that these parrots will become friendlier with you after these sessions, and it exhibits their mental satisfaction.
Speech and vocalization
Pet African grey parrots can easily pick up on sounds and words with ease. There has been a case where an African grey parrot became the whistleblower on a woman’s affair by calling out the other person’s name in front of the husband exactly in the woman’s voice.
Just like a toddler, these birds tend to repeat what they hear or see. Therefore, you need to watch your tongue when you’re in front of these birds.
They can conveniently mimic any sounds they hear. These include squeaking doors or windows, backup chimes or vehicle doorbells, fire alarms, telephone ringtones, and microwave alerts.
You being an owner need to be very vigilant about what these birds hear. It is because, once your pet learns a voice, it cannot unlearn it by any means.
An African grey is not a loud screamer. Therefore they are suitable for people who are living in apartments or even condos. But if you leave a bird unattended or ignored, it will become noisy.
To train your pet African grey, make sure that you choose your words wisely. No offensive slang should be used, and the words need to be short. Make sure that you repeat those words to your bird as frequently as possible.
If you have been wondering how many words can a parrot learn, then a simple answer is several to well over a hundred words based on how you train it.
Don’t rush them and don’t get discouraged. Just repeat the words consistently. The best way to train your bird is to set up a training routine. You can repeat this routine just before you let it out of the cage for exercise. Or try anything else: the point here is being consistent.
Characteristics and colors
As the name suggests, this bird only springs grey feathers throughout the body.
Some of them will have pale, and thin yet beautiful edges. African greys have two subspecies. One of them is Timneh Greys, while the others are Congo Greys.
In terms of African grey parrot size, Congos are larger, and they have black beaks. African grey size ranges from 12 to 13 inches. Their tail feathers are bright red.
Timnehs, on the other hand, feature maroon tail feathers with mandibles of horn color.
Once this red tail parrot reaches its adolescence, you can tell the difference between male from a female.
A male’s tail will remain solid red while a female’s tail tip becomes silver. Males also have slender and narrower heads.
If these changes are not very distinctive in your case, then you can get their DNA test or examine their sex through surgical procedures. But that’s the only color they have, and that is exactly why they are called African grey parrots.
African Grey Parrot Care
These birds require a proper living space for themselves because of their medium to large size.
Therefore, the minimum size of a cage for these birds shouldn’t be less than 2×2 feet in width and at least 3 feet in height.
If you have larger cages available, then you need to go for them, but these measurements are the minimum requirements.
Make sure that you give them a lot of time and train them regularly; otherwise, they will get depressed.
A stressed African grey can exhibit self-mutilating behavior patterns, including feather plucking, etc.
When you provide them with plenty of opportunities to play with toys, these birds become very happy, and they start interacting with the owners.
They also began to learn new tricks and words. You can expect to spend several hours daily. You can leave them alone while your TV or radio on.
Make sure to place the cage in a quiet corner rather than right in the center of the room. They become very easily stressed out due to commotion.
Diet and nutrition
African grey diet includes nuts, fruits, small insects, and seeds out there in the wild. They can also eat flowers, bark, and leaves.
When in captivity, the best African grey food is formulated pellets featuring different types of fruits, including melon, mango, and pomegranate.
African grey parrot food also includes leafy green veggies such as kale, watercress, sprouts, arugula, seeds like flaxseed and hemp. Salad is very healthy for your African grey. Treat them with snacks such as nuts, green beans (steamed), and breakfast toast.
Make sure that you make the adjustments in the number of foods based on their appetites. Also, make sure to get rid of all the food that they haven’t eaten and replace it with fresh items daily.
Health and common conditions
When you look at the African grey body language, you’ll find that these birds tend to pluck their feathers when they are stressed.
And they can be stressed fairly easily. These birds are also prone to various deficiencies, including that of calcium, vitamin A and D, psittacosis, respiratory infections, and various other feather and beak diseases.
You can treat vitamin deficiencies by feeding them with a lot of fruits and different varieties. Veggies are also great for your bird, especially fresh kale and sweet potato.
According to the African grey parrot facts, feather picking is just because your bird is bored, and you need to give more attention to it.
Treat them with nuts, especially when you’re training them. Also, make sure that you keep the cage clean and get rid of any uneaten food at the end of the day.
Replace it with fresh feed, and it will help prevent any development of bacteria or germs.
African Grey Parrot as a Pet
If you are thinking about bringing an African grey parrot as your pet, there are a few things that you need to consider first before you finalize your decision.
First of all, these birds are medium to large in size, and you need to have a cage that is at least 3 feet in height, and it needs to have a footprint of 2×2.
Anything larger is appreciable, but anything under these dimensions simply won’t work. Make sure that you spend several hours with your bird daily.
If you think that won’t be possible, then you need to place them in the room where you have your TV or radio. But even then, you need to interact with them a lot, or they will get bored and eventually will become depressed.
Besides parrot caring, also make sure that you train them regularly and allow them some time out of their cage for a couple of hours.
Feed them with fresh fruits and vegetables and keep their cage clean. Furthermore, you need to choose your words wisely around them because they can mimic whatever they hear.
They can even mimic doors and windows squeaking, and can mimic microwave oven alerts and doorbells. So you need to control what they can hear because once a tone gets into their memory, it is going to stay there forever.