It’s no surprise to see the African grey parrot bird emerge as the most loved pet bird the world over. The African grey is a bird with beauty and brains, as well as an impeccable ability to mimic human speech.
The bad news; there is little information out there about this lovable and interesting avian. The good news; we’ve got you covered! In this write up, we will condense the African parrot world into a few thousand words, and help you get acquainted with the ins and outs of this adorable pet bird.
what is African grey parrot?
The grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), is an Old World parrot species in the family Psittacidae. Native to Africa, many have referred to the grey parrot as the Congo grey parrot, others call it the Congo African grey parrot, red-tailed grey, or African grey parrot. So in this post, we also reserve our right to call it any of these names.
Ornithologists proclaim that it I largest parrot species in Africa. It is a firm favorite among bird pet lovers and in bird shows courtesy of the bird’s intelligence and prowess in uttering human vocabulary. Records of domestication of the grey parrot date back to biblical times.
- Size and shape
This bird is a mid-sized bird that can grow to a maximum head-to-tail length of 13 inches and wingspan of 18 – 21 inches. A typical adult will weigh about 14 oz. or 400 grams.
- Color and Appearance
True to its name, the grey parrot is predominantly grey in color. A closer look, however, and you will notice white mask and bright red tail feathers. The grey on the head and wings is usually of a much darker shade. The area around the eyes is orange.
There is little to distinguish the sexes save for subtle differences like silver tips of the tail of the female and the darker underside of the male’s wings. Moreover, the males head is slender and narrower whereas the females is larger and rounder with longer necks.
On the contrary, some grey parrots are partly or completely red all thanks to selective breeding.
- Origin and behavior
As the name indicates, the African grey is indigenous to the equatorial rainforests of central Africa. You can find the birds naturally existing in parts Congo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Angola, Uganda and Kenya. Congo greys are common in dense woodlands, open savanna, edges of forest clearings and coastal mangroves.
In the wild, you will meet them in diverse sizes and shades of grey attributable to their expansive habitat with varying conditions.
They like to fly across the sky in large noisy flock. Also, during sunsets, you will encounter them spending time in large noisy flocks in the middle of canopies and tree tops. However, Congo greys will disperse into group of about two dozen birds when they need to forage and feed.
Congo greys parrots are monogamous throughout their entire lives. They will begin to pair around their third birthday. Usually, the bird will nest in the hollows and cavities of tall trees. The female will incubate but after hatching, feeding the chicks will be a mutual responsibility between the parent birds.
In captivity, grey parrots make exceptionally sweet and affectionate pets. Nevertheless, even if their lovable and their sociable nature assures you so, these parrots are anything but cuddly. They may stomach a little bit of head scratching and snuggling, but the no-nonsense avian may turn aggressive if you become too cuddly. Even more, in some instances the bird may become so fondly attracted to one particular person in spite of interaction with other human members of the family. Additionally, they love to chew toys to aid in exercising their powerful beaks
The best part yet, Congo grey parrots are excellent talkers. The brainy birds are quick to pick up hundreds of words or sounds they hear and will even try to mimic the sounds from the TV, vehicle, mobile phone tones, alert bells and squeaking doors. Even better, they grey is able to recognize words and phrases, and relate with their meanings. It is advisable to begin teaching the bird to talk at around a year of age.
In their native wild habitats, Congo greys rely on fruits, nuts, berries, and bark and leaves, like the cola plant berries and oil palm nuts. More than that, the bird will not hesitate to gobble up an insect should one come its way.
They are equipped with strong claws to grasp their chow and short robust beak that tear the fruits and nuts open. The grey parrot will also occasionally grace agricultural farms to feast on human crops like maize and sorghum.
In captivity, their favored diet is a daily serving of pellet-based parrot mix. Augment this with fresh fruits and vegetables such as chopped kale, peas, green beans, bananas, pears, berries and apples among others.
- Health issues
The most common health issues among Congo grey parrots include feather picking, nutrient deficiency, respiratory infections, psittacosis or parrot fever, and psittacine beak and feather disease.
Not to forget, birds that do not get enough social interaction may become depressed, lonely or angry. To express their discontent, such birds may resort to unpleasant and self-mutilating behavior such as screeching and feather plucking.
Make sure you provide sufficient mental stimulation and social interaction if you want the bird to get its act together. To avoid nutrient deficiencies, give the bird a wide variety of food including fresh fruits and veggies. It is also in order to include healthy seeds like hemp and flaxseed.
How long do African greys live?
Expect a lifetime of loyal, dependable and all-weather friendship from an African grey. Domesticated Congo greys can live for an impressive 8 decades, and will outlive the owner in most cases.
In the wild, the birds have a much lower lifespan due to the risk of predation, disease, poor diet, harsh conditions and more.
Where do African grey parrots live?
Wild African grey parrots reside in dense woodlands, open savanna, edges of forest clearings and coastal mangroves. They love to nest in the hollows and cavities of tall trees.
Confined Afrrican greys dislike stress and commotion in their surrounding and prefer their cage placed in a quiet corner of the room rather than in the center.
Which African grey parrot is the smartest?
Numerous tests have been carried out by diverse research circle to assess the intelligent of African greys. The Congo grey parrot is thought to be among the smartest bird in the world with its mental and emotional capacity equated to that of a 5-year-old human child. As aforementioned, they can grasp over hundred words and phrases and recognize their meanings as well.
Facts About the African grey parrot bird
- These birds are very quick to learn words and unlearning them may not be possible. Therefore, you will need to be vigilant and selective of the words and sounds you let them hears lest they humiliate you in front of your visitors.
- The birds form rather strong bonds with their owners and can become pretty emotionally needy. Avoid bouncing the bird from owner to owner since it is extremely emotionally sensitive.
- Provides lots of toys like foraging and puzzle toys to put their intelligence to test and keep them engaged.
- Allow the bird some supervised time out of the cage to exercise, keep their strong muscles in prime shape and burn out some energy. Give them a couple of hours to play and fly around freely out of its confinement.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much are African GREY parrots?
The $2,000 to $4,000 price tag on the bird may sound outrageous and a little on the expensive side, but that is what you pay for a lifetime of unquestionable friend and never-ending fun in a relatively compact package.
Are African Greys good for beginners?
African greys will demand a strict routine schedule and needs substantial time with their owners. If you are just dipping their toe into the water of pet birding, you’d probably want to look for a bird that does not seek as much attention and commitment. But if this is not a deterrent and you think you’re up to the task, we’d recommend that you give it a go.
Are African Greys good pets?
Absolutely! The birds are affectionate with their owners, fun-loving and entertaining. And the cherry on the cake; their excellent talking ability.
Are there parrots in Africa?
There are multiple parrot species you can spot in Africa. Apart from grey parrots, you can also come across cape parrots, lovebirds, rose-ringed parakeet and echo parakeet.
Are African grey parrots loud?
Grey parrots are not loud screamers. So worry not if you reside in apartments or condos or have a small baby. Even so, lonely and depressed birds that feel neglected may let out noisy screams and screeches.
How smart are African grey parrots?
It is the smartest bird of the parrot family and is often compared to a five-year old in matters of intelligence. Grey parrots are talented talkers with a vocabulary capacity of hundreds of words, phrases, and sounds
Where can I get an African grey parrot?
Visit any avian-specialty stores, pet shops or local breeders if you intend to purchase a grey parrot. You can also check with rescues and adoption organizations for more affordable deals.
How many types of African grey parrots are there?
There are two subspecies of grey parrots, the Congo grey and Timneh grey. It is very easy to mistake the Congo African grey bears with the Timneh African grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh). Besides the red tail of the former, what else sets them apart is the smaller size and much darker plumage of the latter. The Timneh grey parrot also has a horn-colored beak while the Congo grey’s beak is black. Both types make amazing pets, and are equally smart.
How many times a year do African greys breed?
An African grey will breed once or twice every year. The breeding period depends on the locality, although most Congo greys breed during the dry season.
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