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African Grey Parrot: Care, facts and profile

African Grey Parrot
(© Charanipat – stock.adobe.com)

African Greys are one of the most popular pet parrots. They are very intelligent birds. They have the ability to imitate human speech and just about any other sound they choose.

The amazing thing is that African Parrot often use words and sounds in context. For example, when you stand in front of the microwave, the bird starts beeping for 2 minutes, then the sound of the microwave working.

Or maybe every time you give him a slice of banana, you say, “Don’t shake your head” because he throws it away while he eats. Your bird might tell you the next time you give it a slice of banana before you can tell it.

There are two types of African Greys: Congo Grey and Timneh Grey.

Types of African Greys

Congo Grey: The Congo Grey is larger than the Timneh. It has red tail feathers and a black beak.

Timneh Greys: The Timneh Grey is smaller than the Congo. Instead, it has a brown-colored tail and its beak will have reddish-beige hues.

Noise level

African Greys are considered by most pet bird owners to be moderately loud. Most don’t have a morning and evening screaming session like some parrots do, unless they are mimicking other parrots they live with.

Do not mistake yourself. African Greys know how to make loud noises, and will emit a loud high pitch and make loud noises when they want to. If he’s mad at his toy or thinks you’re not paying enough attention, he may choose a loud vocalization to express his feelings.

Hug factor

African Greys may not have a reputation for being the most cuddly parrots, but they can cuddle the best of them. Much depends on how they were raised in childhood and how they have been treated since then.

They often have a favorite person, and that will be the person they snuggle up with. Experts suggest socializing your bird when you bring it home so that it is comfortable with lots of people handling it.

Even still, this is not a guarantee. Some birds just choose one person to love. My mother’s Congo Grey lets some of us take it and it threatens to bite others. Everyone loves him and treats him kindly. It’s his choice.

Often a bird will not like someone because it senses that person’s apprehension. Encourage people to relax when handling your parrots. If they’re really nervous, it might be best to wait until they have more confidence.

One bite from an African grey can ruin their future handling of this bird and other parrots.

Sensitivity factor

African Greys are very sensitive to their environment. Unfamiliar sounds, toys, household items, people, animals and the like will often scare them.

To avoid having an African Gray who is afraid of everything, try to introduce him to new things and new people as often as possible.

Changing their routine will also help. Don’t let them become such a creature of habit that any change will stress them out. One day you may need to change their routine or bring them to someone else to take care of them. If they get stuck in a rut, you can end up with terrible behavior issues.

Known behavior issues

Some African Grays tend to pick feathers. This is where the bird chews its feathers destructively. Some go bald from the neck down.

Many have found that stress, boredom, and eating issues play a big role in this problem. Follow the advice above and reduce any possible stress.

Feed them a healthy diet for their type, preferably organic. Chemicals in food or that were fed vegetables or fruits during growth can affect your parrot’s behavior!

One of the pellets we carry doesn’t even contain artificial vitamins. This is highly recommended for birds with allergies or feather destruction issues.

Provide African Greys with lots of stimulating toys and change them regularly to keep them from getting bored.

Congo African Grey regime

Experts say that a third of the African Grey’s diet should contain healthy pellets. We love Totally Organics Granules because they’re 100% organic and don’t even contain artificial vitamins. This is important if you have an allergic bird.

I suggest you choose one that is organic and not artificially dyed. Anything artificial must be cleansed by the kidneys before it can be used. Many pellets are just waste.

If you want to know how to turn your pet bird into pellets, please read the linked article.

The next third to half of their diet should consist of a variety of cooked and raw vegetables. Again, organic is always best. Who knows what chemicals were administered or sprayed on these other products.

Some African Greys are prone to low blood calcium, so try to incorporate plenty of calcium-rich foods. Some suggestions may include broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, green peas, carrots, green beans, almonds, and walnuts.

Caution: Never give your parrot alcohol, avocado or chocolate – these can kill your parrot! Also avoid asparagus, eggplant, cabbage, caffeinated products, junk food, milk and cream, raw potatoes and rhubarb (including leaves).

No matter what the pellet manufacturers want you to believe, parrots that have a variety of fresh, healthy foods are much happier and healthier.

The rest of the diet should consist of seeds, nuts and some fresh fruit, organic if possible.

When fresh fruits and vegetables are not possible, dehydrated fruits and vegetables are excellent! Many birds love to chew on dried fruits and vegetables.

The best thing about them is that they don’t spoil, so you can leave them in the cage for hours or even days. This comes in handy when trying to get them to accept fruits and vegetables.

When you come home with them, you can moisten them with warm water to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Boy, is this useful to you when traveling or going out!

Fresh water

We provide bath water in the morning and sometimes in the evening in hot weather, but we only leave it for 1-2 hours so they don’t drink nasty water all day.

Invest in a water bottle. You’ll avoid many potential health issues by making sure they have clean water to drink that hasn’t been bathed and pooped.

If your parrot has never used a water bottle before, you will need to provide both a water bottle and a dish until you see it drinking from the bottle.

Lixit makes a glass water bottle that has a wire instead of a spring that keeps it on the cage if you’re worried about safety. (Some birds get their legs or beaks caught in spring clips on other bottles.)

Cage requirements

The minimum requirements for an African Grey are 24 x 24 x 28 inches, with bar spacing of at least 3/4 inch.

As mentioned earlier, provide plenty of stimulating toys and healthy things to chew on for African Greys. Buy a cage with a secure liner, as African greys will use their beaks to climb around the cage.

Consider getting a cage with a playpen on top so they can play when you’re home. The more space they have, the happier they will be.

Game stand

Each parrot enjoys time out of the cage with their human flock. Some parrots even enjoy spending time on a large play stand with other parrots.

If you have a parrot that is hand tamed, the time spent out of the cage is very important. For the safety of the parrot and for the sake of your furniture, a sturdy play stand is essential.

Play stands with food cups, toy hooks and casters at the bottom are best for everyone’s enjoyment. Some game stands have optional seed skirts that catch food that falls on the floor of the stand and rolls or bounces around.

Story by Colton Barter


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