In the world of bird-keeping, African Grey Parrots have a special place. These beautiful and highly intelligent birds can make a place for themselves in any family, and are the dream of any bird keeper. Here is a detailed look at the Parrots, their abilities, and the kind of care they need in a home.
If you’re looking to bring an African Grey home, make sure you know exactly what it needs so that you can give him or her the best possible life. African Greys usually live between the ages of 40 to 60 years – the commitment to bring one home is a big one. And this coupled with the fact that African Greys are highly sensitive, means you need to be sure before bringing one of these beautiful birds into your home.
The African Grey is a parrot that is medium-large in size and has black bills and grey feathers. The adult African Greys have yellow irises, whereas the younger ones have grey eyes. The feathers on an African Grey are mainly grey, but there may be some changes in shade or color between the subspecies, which will be further discussed below.
Like any other animal, the African grey parrot has also undergone some mutations and produced new variants in the species. One such is the Blue Ino, which is completely white, a.k.a., an albino, and the Blue type, which has a white colored tail. These are usually present in the wild. However, commercial breeders have also produced African Greys that have a lot of red coloring and feathers, along with several other interesting color patterns.
Types of the African Grey Parrot
A common misunderstanding of the African Greys leads people to believe that this is one species of parrots. On the other hand, this is actually a group, with two distinct species, the Congo Grey Parrot, and the Timneh Grey Parrot. Although these two look similar to each other, they are different species and have distinct markings.
For example, the Congo has an overall grey feather, dark beaks, and red tails, which are bright and distinctive. On the other hand, the Timneh has a smaller body, and although their tails are also not grey, they tend to be maroon in shade. The Timneh also has a red color on their beaks, which makes them very different from Congos.
Temperament and Personality
So, you want to bring an African Grey to your home. It’s a good idea to start researching, and after its needs, the biggest thing you need to know is the temperament of an African Grey. With this knowledge, you can give him or her the home it needs.
African Greys tend to be very sensitive, and require a lot of care and attention from their owners. If they are neglected or abandoned, they can become highly distressed, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors like picking feathers. They also get bored easily, like other intelligent species, and need interaction, toys, and love to keep them occupied.
All in all, the birds are sociable, loving, and highly intelligent. They often get along well with humans, given the right amount of love and care. They don’t just get attached to one human either, they can be very outgoing and chirpy with strangers as well.
African Greys are often prized for their high intelligence and sharp memory. Given the right training, these birds can learn many human words, imitate them, and actually use them in a sense of communication with the humans caring for them. According to some studies, African Greys can operate at the same mental capacity as a 5-year-old.
An interesting thing about these parrots is that they don’t just pick up words – they can even pick up on the sounds. So when you’re around your bird, be careful! Just like any other 5-year-old, these birds can pick up whatever you’re saying, even if it is foul language!
You might find your African Grey causing problems by displaying some of these characteristics. However, don’t worry! These problems are not the end of the world, and given the right care and training, can easily be redirected.
- Displaying aggression: If not given the right training, these birds have a tendency towards aggression and distress.
- Nervousness and flightiness: The African Grey can be kept in captivity but it is still a bird. If kept locked up all the time, you may see your bird becoming agitated.
- Feather picking: You may find your bird picking their own feathers. This is a clear-cut sign of distress. After ruling out any other causes, you need to train the bird to redirect this behavior.
- Phobias: sometimes, African Greys have phobias about certain common objects. You can help them deal with this using appropriate training techniques.
Just like any other pets, African Grey Parrots can be trained. The nervous and sensitive nature of these birds can make them flighty, but using the right reinforcement techniques, you can teach them to trust you. With other damaging problems like feather picking and displaying of phobic behavior, you can also use redirecting and positive reinforcement to get the bird to stop engaging in harmful behaviors.
Feeding an African Grey in captivity means that you are now responsible for maintaining its nutritional requirements. Your best bet is to use fresh food sources like fruits and vegetables, which are coupled with nuts and leaves. You can also give them a treat with roasted nuts and some leftover fresh salad.
Because of their high energy and nature, African Greys enjoy a lot of exercises. Because they get distressed when kept closed up for too long, they should get the chance to be outside of their cages for at least several hours during the day. Birds toys and other chew toys will also be much appreciated by this parrot.
You might not know this, but African Greys tend to become very attached to their owners. Although that is a beautiful bond, the result of this is that these parrots require a lot of interaction. And that, coupled with their sensitive personality, means the owner needs to take good care of them.
One reason for distress in these parrots is when they do not get the attention and care from their owners that they need and deserve. These birds also need to be taught to be socialized, or they will only form bonds with one person, their primary caregiver.
Because these parrots have an astonishingly long life expectancy, some people may rush into bringing one home when they are not ready to dedicate the next few decades of their lives to the animal. Because of this, some of these parrots may be given from owner to owner throughout their life, which is a highly problematic to them.
Over the years, because of evolution, birds have learned to not let their illnesses show unless it gets to a point where they can no longer hide it. This is why you need to be extra vigilant as a caregiver and make sure that your birds are healthy. In case of any changes in behavior that you can’t explain, go straight to a vet.