Facts and informations

The African Gray Parrot is a vulnerable species of Psittacidae and it is native to the Western and Central African rainforest. It is a medium-sized parrot and its distinctive features are its gray feathers with white markings around the eyes and black bleak. The African Gray Parrot is deemed one of the most intelligent birds and, in contrast with other parrots, it has been observed in its natural habitat even repeating the sounds made by other species of birds. Its cognitive development is similar to that of highly intelligent animals such as chimpanzees and dolphins and even to that of toddlers.

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African Grey Parrot – talking

There are two accepted subspecies – Congo African Gray Parrot and Timneh African Gray Parrot. The former is larger in size than the Timneh, it has light-gray feathers and a red tail. The latter is thus smaller, dark-gray feathers and a chestnut tail. The Congo African Gray is found in Kenya, Congo, Tanzania, Angola and Ivory Coast. The Timneh African Gray is distributed from the savannas of West Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast and Mali. The domestic Timneh starts to speak earlier than the Congo and it is considered less agitated when it is surrounded by strangers than the Congo. The captive-bred Congo usually begins to speak around the age of 2-3 years.

Although the trade with wild-caught African Grays is restricted, because these parrot are listed on CITES appendix II, they continue to be illegally captured and then sold as pets. The US and the European Union prohibits the import of wild-caught African Grays. Their number is increasingly declining also due to habitat (rainforest) destruction, because the trees they depend on for nesting are also valuable for timber. This species is very appreciated as a pet, due to its high intelligence, sociability, ability to learn and reproduce human speech and its magnificent beauty. Scientific studies have also shown that they are able to make the connection mentally between words and their meanings, to express certain preferences and even to apply concepts such as color, shape and number.

Other interesting facts / informations about this majestic bird include its longevity in captivity of 50-70 years and its ability to repeat and interpret all the noises and sounds made by household appliances and even profanity words spoken by its owner. Their impressive mimicry is also part of the fascinating facts about these parrots, as well as their well-developed memory and capability to distinguish a large number of voices. In terms of gender, males are slightly longer than females and the females have a narrower head and a suppler neck.

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The diet of the wild African Gray Parrot includes fruits, leafy vegetables, seeds, palm nuts and sometimes snails. The diet of captive-bred African Gray should include grains, pellets, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables and cuddlebone for calcium supplementation. The breeding ability of this species is good and it is compatible with other species equally smart such as Eclectus. These birds lay a number of 2-4 eggs and the incubation period is between 21-30 days. Captive-bred African Grays have suffered several mutations, including albino, lutino, grizzles, white-tailed, parino and incomplete ino (mostly white). There are also a few mutations which have occurred naturally in the wild.

In the captivity, they usually get bored in the absence of proper communication between owner and bird, which leads to feather picking. These domestic parrots have a gentle nature and lovely disposition, but they require constant attention from and interaction with their family members. The most famous African Gray Parrot was Alex , which died in 2007 at 31 years old. Alex belonged to Dr. Pepperberg, an animal psychologist and it was the subject of the Avian Language Experiment. Alex could identify more than 100 actions, colors and objects.

25 thoughts on “Facts and informations

  1. Marguerite Harper (Margie)

    I am getting my baby African Grey next month. My husband and I are wondering
    what sounds they do best. We want to name him something he can say
    really “well”. Is there a book, website, etc whereby I could learn the more
    prominent sounds African Greys make? Margie

    1. Sharon

      I have 3 rescued birds and they say thir own names and each other’s names. Sailor, Sissy, and Jojo. and even the nickname of one Pegleg. I also have known people who have named Baby, Captain. Work with it and it will become quite a talker. Think of words that a 3 year old can say easily is something I would suggest. Two sylable. There are lots of videos on youtude. I keep a radio on during the day when not at home.

      Please make sure someone besides you and your husband forms a bond with your bird. Theses birds live to be 75 years old or so. My rescues are all result of the owner dying and no one being able to care for them. They became neglected and started biting the people who were providing minimal care. These birds are now only about 20 years old. I am trying to determine my plan for their care if something should happen to me.

  2. Sharon Robson

    I have a three African Grey parrots that are all rescued from the same home. The owner died over 10 years ago. His widow gave me one bird, a severe underweight feather picker about 5 years ago, and 2 months ago her kids talked her into giving up the other two because she was scared of them and unable to handle them. Since I quickly got weight onto JoJo and was able to handle her in a short period of time, she wanted the other two to be here. All 3 range in age 16-19 years of age.
    I had no intention of these birds breeding, and this may be a false alarm.
    One of the birds is a special needs bird. Sailor chewed his foot off when younger shortly after his owner died. His foot became trapped in the chain that a toy was suspended on. He does get around surprisingly well for having one peg leg, but does on occasion at night fall off his perch.

    I have been letting the birds socialize with each other since they were all young birds together. They get along well, however I do not leave the house while they are sharing the same area; out of concern that one may pick on another.

    This morning I noticed that one of the females laid an egg. What are the chances that the egg is fertile?
    Can Sailor breed with 1 foot and a peg leg?
    Should I put it in a nesting box ? She seems to be nesting on it on the floor of the cage?

    Your advise would be appreciated.

    1. Joey Renolds

      I have a male and female African grey. Ruby the mail is about 7 years old and my female Paris is about 4 years old. They are in two different cages. I would like to know if and when can I put them both together in one larger cage. Your advice will be highly appreciated.
      By any chance was your parrot named Paris temporarily housed in a pet store in Huntersville, North Carolina? I used to enjoy visiting her there, and was very sad when the pet store closed, b/c I couldn’t visit her anymore!

  3. Jessica

    I have an African Grey. She is about 8 years old we got her when she was about 3. There is nothing she cant say, She repeats almost every thing she hears. Carries on full conversations and sometimes tricks my kids into thinking I am calling for them. She mimics at least 7 voices perfectly. These are the most amazing creatures I have ever seen!

  4. Cat

    I have a male and female African grey. Ruby the mail is about 7 years old and my female Paris is about 4 years old. They are in two different cages. I would like to know if and when can I put them both together in one larger cage. Your advice will be highly appreciated.

    1. Sharon Robson

      I would see how they react when they can play in the same area when you are present. While they by nature are very social birds; if they have not been socialized you may have issues. I would not house them together until you have a great deal of knowledge of how they will interact with each other. I have a male and female who will hurt each other to the point that I caught them grabbing beaks and biting. Add to that the concept that each bird will view their cage as their territory. For that reason a common playground/gym for play and social interaction would be my recommendation.

    2. Tara

      By any chance was your parrot named Paris temporarily housed in a pet store in Huntersville, North Carolina? I used to enjoy visiting her there, and was very sad when the pet store closed, b/c I couldn’t visit her anymore!

  5. Francois

    I adopted an African Grey. About 25 years old. Can I let the bird out of his cage or should I wait a few weeks?

    1. Sharon Robson

      Yes, however you want to make sure the environment is safe for your bird. Many re-homing groups work with the birds socializing them and getting then used to being handled. I open my cages and permit my 3 greys, out. One will actually leave the cage and venture around the room, while the other 2 will stay on the top of their own cages and flex their wings. All 3 had been cage bound before I got them.

      Make sure there are no fans or ceiling fans on in the even he flies. I also close blinds partially to keep they from thinking they can get through a window. You want to make sure you are able to catch your bird and put it back in it;s cage when play time is over. Remember their beaks are powerful, and if they do not want to go back into the cage, they will let you know. A pair of gloves or a towel that is handle, can be helpful, but I only needed that a time or two with mine. Try to handle your bird and bond as much as you can. Wear old clothes when doing so, because their beaks can do a number on shirts. I like an old flannel shirt that I put on over what I am wearing when we are having cuddle time. Note: It is not uncommon for a bird that has not been handled to bite and bite hard. After they are used to you bonded they will seen to groom you and offer you their food.

  6. heleen

    I have a 5 month old african grey I have him since he was 6 weeks old he never bites me and now suddenly he bites me I can’t even scratch his head so what can be the problem

    1. Sharon

      Mine have always been older rescues; but we have nipped the biting issues. Does he have plenty to chew on while in the cage? I have a couple who somewhat seem to nibble without really biting me. Someone who is not aware would think they are about to get bit. They do the term ‘No Bite’ calmly stated; but I think their nibbling is an attempt to groom my hand as I pet them. These were all skin breakers when I rescued them. They love to chew up stuff. Empty toilet paper rolls, paper towl rolls, news paper, and even rawhide and leater items. Also the letter and number blocks that small kids play with are good for birds. Many baby toys have worked well with my greys. They love attention and to be socialized.

  7. Miss Ronni KameKona

    My mother’s africa grey is around 27 years old. He has lost his ‘grip’ in both of his feet? Literally, he cannot “hold on” any more. Mother ‘always gave him different sizes of perches in his night-time and day time cages so he would keep healthy feet his whole life? Something is wrong? how do we get his ‘feet’ usage back again?

    Ronni KameKona
    Post Office Box 175
    Everett WA 98206-0175

    1. Sharon

      See if you have an Avian vet in your area. I have heard that one possibility may be arthritis. There could also be other causes. I would try to get the bird checked out, There are some natureal remedies available. It is good to encourage them with different sizes of perches, and playing.

  8. Banisua

    I have four African grey parrots two males and a female as well as one Senegalese, my intention is to acquire more and breed please anyone with experience to share? Am doing it for fun as my daughter loves them so much

  9. Halima Kantharia

    please help. My beautiful african grey is eating only her bird seed and nothing else. Also she is biting anyone who goes near her or him. She draws blood when she bites.

    1. Turtle2001

      I put a male amazon with my friendly female and she bit me several times. After I got rid of him to a pet store. She hasn’t bit me again. It had to be a mating thing. Parrots are not a domesticated animal like a dog.

  10. Mihai

    I am writing from Romania.I have a female African grey,she is about 7 years old.For about 2 weeks she scratches a lot around the tail and she is very agitated and nervous.
    She eats normaly and the manure is normal.(not very fluid)
    The veterinary from my city doesn’t know to much about exotic birds and i live far from a bigger city and i was advised not to transport her for big distances because she could get stressed.
    If someone had the same reaction from his parrot i will be glad to hear an advice or some treatment please.
    I want to specify that i have never had health problems with her.

  11. Issy

    Hi I’m a proud new owner of a CAG :D he’s just too sweet for words, he’s going to be 8 weeks so still eating cereal. I’m starting to try out soft foods for him, any suggestions as to what other soft foods besides bananas I should feed him? He’s out everyday and loves to cuddle after he’s done eating also grooms me as he lays on my chest. Couldn’t have asked for a better pet :)

  12. Keith Miller

    I have a African grey that i boutgh for my wife as present. She handraised him and he got aal her attention, but since he was in his gage and independend he only bonds with me and bite her. When he is on my hand he or she covers my hand with his /her wings and moves the tail aside as to mate and also tries to feed me. Would this be a thing females or mails do. Is it possible for them to pick up the type of hormones people set of so that the females would be more attrackted to the male and virse verse. We want to get it a mate but not sure of the gender. could you perhaps post fotos of the diffirents in the head sizes. Regards


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