The African Grey Parrot

June 27, 2018

The African Grey Parrot

Yeah, it is already common seeing other people have pet birds such as the Scarlett Macaws, lovebirds, budgies, and parakeets. But what if I tell you that there is a bird out there, that has this unique gray plumage and with the intelligence and emotional capacity of a toddler?


Meet the African Gray Parrot.

This parrot breed is one of the most talented talking / mimicking birds on the planet. (No wonder that a lot of parrot breeders and enthusiasts love this guy). Not only do bird lovers admire and appreciated this bird due to their wits and demeanor, it is one of the most well-known pet birds out there that even people who sees it the first time can really tell what’s its name (I mean its gray and it is also a parrot so there’s that).

This parrot is one of the oldest psittacine species kept by humans, that even the bible mentioned this birds in one it its pages. (Remember that King Solomon has one of these and also Noah has a pair of parrot tenants on his ark?)


Their Origin…

These beautiful birds originated in the moist lowland forests of equatorial Africa, especially in the countries of Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, and sometimes even reportedly found up as high as 2,200 meters above sea level in the eastern parts of the range.

They are usually seen at forest edges, clearings, gallery forests, mangroves, wooded savannahs, cultivated areas, and gardens. African Grey Parrots chooses trees over water and may make their nests on islands in rivers. Once they already have chosen a perfect spot to roost, they will make their nest in tree holes (and sometimes uses the holes made by other tree-boring birds such as woodpeckers if they are big enough) .

There are also other variations of the African Grey Parrot,

Such as the larger sub-species referred to as the Congo African grey, sporting a lighter gray color in its plumage, and a solid black beak.

Also known as the CAG, actually has a greater range, and have been even observed as far as in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania.

Is another subspecies and is slightly smaller than the Congo, and its feathers are darker in color. Another defining characteristic of the Timneh Grey is that it has an ivory-colored upper mandible instead of a black one.

Timneh African Grey (TAG) is found in a smaller region along the western edge of the Ivory Coast and through southern Guinea. Both sub-species have a diet mostly consist of palm nuts, fruit, seeds, and also leaves.This parrot species have been known to live for up to 80 years in captivity so it’s necessary that those who owns them will commit to a lifetime of living with a bird (which is pretty good when you try to imagine yourself sharing the rest of your life with him, or he may even outlive you).

African Grey parrots are too emotionally sensitive to be able to handle being bounced from owner to owner (just like an orphaned kid who keeps from moving in from one family to the other, having a hard time coping with the emotional stress and mental adjustments, just thinking about that makes me want to cry).

Sadly, some owners were unmindful about these birds and just simply adopt them without even realizing their responsibilities for these beautiful creatures. Thus, many of them do have several homes and owners throughout their lifetimes (which mostly contribute to the stress they experience and occasionally reported bad behaviors). Always remember that these creatures are intelligent and emotionally matured enough to grasp a gist of the situation that happens around them.


Intelligence Proven and Tested by Science!

Truly a one of a kind bird, African Grey Parrots is also one of the smartest birds out there. In recent years, a lot of studies and much research have been done on the mental capacity of African Grey parrots by scientists around the world (and also owners who want to test their African Grey’s mental acuity).

One of the most famous cases of this is the research and mental experiments done by Dr. Irene Pepperberg together with her famous African Grey, Alex.

Dr. Pepperberg used Alex and other African Grey Parrots (notably named Griffin and Arthur) in research trials concentrating on communications, she was able to find out that not only can Alex and other African Grey parrots learn an astounding amount of human words; they can learn to use them to communicate back to their owners.

As what I have mentioned earlier, these impressive birds have the mental and emotional capacities of a 5-year-old human child.

Most African Greys are extremely intelligent birds, a fact which becomes evident upon observing their behavior. Many grow to be extremely sweet and affectionate toward their owners, and the species is known for being rather sociable. A bored or neglected African Grey, however, is often not a very happy bird, and will not hesitate to air its grievances when given the opportunity.

These birds require toys, regular interaction, stimulating opportunities to socialize with their human flock as well as fresh food in order to live well in captivity.

If you take a look at African Greys, you will notice right away that this is a very intelligent bird, a fact which becomes apparent upon observing their behavior.

Most owners reported that their African Greys are very loving and charming, and the species is known for being very sociable, that they will make friends rather easily with other people or pets (dogs specifically, cats? Well, it depends, but I won’t dare to have my African Grey get close to any cat that is not used to be with birds). An ignored or neglected African Grey, however, is often not a very happy bird and will show its disinterest when it comes to socializing, and will not waver to display its gripes when given the chance.

Ultimate Mimics

Another thing that can grab your attention to this bird is that it’s ability to vocalize, especially in mimicking certain sounds and the word or phrases that it hears. African Grey Parrots are among the best talkers in the parrot family, if not in the whole animal kingdom, and is able to repeat the exact same words that you say after just hearing them once or twice.

African Greys reaches the peak of their talking prowess around a year of age, and most of them become adept in mimicking at a much earlier age. Some owners even say that their African Greys are already very skillful in imitating sounds such as jackhammers and alarm clocks at around nine months of age.

Just because African Greys are smart and may choose to talk rather than to scream deliriously like a mad bird, it is also wrong to believe that they aren’t noisy (I mean come on, they are the most talkative birds in the world and one would think that they are quiet?).

They are not as loud or stubborn compared to their South American Parrot cousins, but they will quickly learn most household sounds (such as alarm clock noise or any noise from the radio or television) and use them repeatedly to annoy or disturb his owners (or anyone unfortunate to be around).

Just imagine this: you hear your cellphone ringing in the kitchen. You went there and look for it while your African Grey is just sitting there on the counter while watching you (and with an evil ploy in his mind), then you can’t find your phone there so you get back on the living room and watch tv. Suddenly it rang again, and of course you’ll check it out again.

This happen a couple of times until you want to scratch your face off due that annoying sound. And in the end, you just realized that your phone was on your pocket all this time and it was your bird all along, giggling their in the corner for he has actually succeeded in outplaying you.

I’ll throw that freaking bird inside the microwave. (Just kidding!)

Things you need To Do

(And of course, the don’ts)

Now that you are ready to commit your life (remember, these birds will sometimes outlive you) to own an African Grey Parrot and is willing to do all the things it takes to take care of it and ensure that it will have a happy life, I have here a couple of basic things that you need to remember:

Grey Sanctuary

There is no question that parrots like big bird cages, and this goes with African Greys too.

These birds generally do well in cages that are around 3 feet long, 2 feet wide and 4 feet tall (You can find it and the like online stores like aviariesdepot.com.au.)

When it comes to the spacing between the bars, anywhere around 0.75 inch to 1 inch usually works fine. The objective of a bird cage should be to serve as a peaceful refuge for your pet bird, so always make sure that it’s always equipped with all of the basics to keep him happy such as perches, food, toys and a water supply. Since it’s vital to encourage these parrots’ minds to work regularly, go for interactive toys that will do exactly that, such as those that hide their food, or rewards them with treats if solved.


What’s on the Menu?

Giving your African grey parrot a healthy and well-balanced diet can greatly help to his welfare, as malnourishment is common problem that affects many of these birds.

Commercial pellets that specifically designed for African Greys work as strong basis of their feeding plans. Fresh vegetables and fruit is also a great complement to their diets, including carrots, cooked corn (preferably on a cob), cauliflowers, bananas, sweet potatoes (cooked), grapes, green beans (cooked), cherries (without the pits), celery, pears and apples.

Vegetables are a key essential element to their health. Always cut up veggies and fruits before you give it to your bird (cut them in chunks which is sizeable enough for them to hold), and never allow stale and rotting food matter to stay in his cage to avoid having your pet eat them. Check this article also: Foods and Treats For Bird


Don’t Miss Your Workout

Regular playtime as a form of exercise is essential for your African Grey that includes both inside and outside of the cage. Have a few perches inside of your bird’s abode is crucial, as they can help him work out his limbs even without your help.

Give your African grey a few interesting cage perch options with diverse textures and sizes. Regularly have your African go outside of its cage for a couple of hours (like a whole afternoon if you are free) for physical activity outside the cage (of course, with your supervision). Being able to move freely is beneficial for African Greys’ health, as it gives them the opportunity to work out their muscles and wings.


Veterinary Appointments

African Grey Parrots in healthy environments often can achieve a long life. A regular visit with you avian vet is a necessary element in having a healthy pet bird.

African grey parrots are vulnerable to several ailments, and the sooner you diagnose them, the easier the treatment will be. Common health issues that commonly affect them include excessive picking of feathers and both kidney and liver troubles.

If ever you suspect that your African grey have any of this disease, rush your bird immediately to your avian vet to immediately provide medical attention and to avoid worsening your bird’s situation.


He Demands Attention and Affection

The last and the most important thing to take note:

Your African grey parrots always needs your attention – and lots of it. They need at least an hour each day to play and interact with you or to other people in your home which he loves. This may sound crazy but always talk to African grey parrot. Proper care is very important, visit Difference Between A Healthy And A Fat Bird for more helpful tips and ideas.

Teach him how to do some basic tricks like commanding him to go to a certain pot or come at you. Talk to him like talking to a kid. Let him use your arms and shoulders as a perching spot. Give plenty of attention and affection to your pet bird and that will ensure that he is always content, healthy, happy and well-behaved for the years to come.


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