AFRICAN GREY PARROTS
They have the reputation for being amongst the most intelligent of all birds. Their human - like ability to mimic speech and gentle nature have made them popular pets.
Several sub-species have been named, but only the first two are universally accepted:
CONGO AFRICAN GREY PARROT OR CAG
(Psittacus erithacus erithacus) - The nominate subspecies
Identification: Larger than the Timneh at about 33 cm (13 in) long. Light grey feathers, bright red tails, and an all black beak
- Range: Naturally occurs on the islands of Príncipe and Bioko and is distributed from south-eastern Ivory Coast to Western Kenya, Northwest Tanzania, Southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Northern Angola
- Timneh African Grey Parrot or TAG (Psittacus erithacus timneh)
Identification: Smaller than the Congo African Greys. The plumage is a darker charcoal grey coloring. The tail is a darker maroon - color. They have a light, horn-colored area to part of the upper mandible.
- Range: Naturally occurs in the western parts of the moist Upper Guinea forests and bordering savannas of West Africa from Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Southern Mali east to at least 70 km (43 mi) east of the Bandama River in Ivory Coast.
- Ghana African Grey or Princeps African Grey (Psittacus erithacus princeps)
Identification: Similar to the Congo African Greys, but darker and slightly smaller
- Range: Naturally occurs on Fernando Po and Principé Islands.
- Cameroon African Grey - also known as "the Big Silvers"
- Identification: Larger than other African Grey species and the plumage is lighter / more silvery.
- Range: The general perception is that this species came from Cameroon -- but it is now generally believed that it originated in today's Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Originating from central Africa, the African Grey is a highly intelligent parrot and requires a committed and patient owner. Alongside the Eclectus , these birds are one of the most intelligent parrot species and possess the ability to develop a large vocabulary and communicate efficiently with their owner.
The African Grey Parrot is a medium-sized parrot between 10 to 14 inches/30cm long (Congo subspecies) of the genus Psittacus.
Average Weight & ID:
- Congo African Grey: 380 to 554 grams (light grey plumage - red tail)
- Timneh African Grey: 300 to 360 grams (darker / charcoal grey plumage - maroon tail)
- As the name implies, the African Grey parrot is predominantly grey, with accents of white and a red or maroon tail depending on the subspecies, and the area around eyes is usually white.
Greys, like all parrots, are zygodactyl, having 4 toes on each foot—two front and two back.
Gender Identification: Male or Female
Generally, males are bigger than females being about 12-14 inches at length. There are certain differences between sexes with females having a more slender neck and a narrower head, also males being darker than females. African Greys are beautiful, intelligent parrots, that would make a wonderful addition to any family who fully understands their capabilities and provides them with a stimulating, interactive environment. Building a relationship takes lots of love, time and patience. Congo African Greys and Timnehs share many personality traits, although the Timnehs are said to begin speaking earlier than Congos, and are often said to be less nervous around strangers and new situations. Timnehs are often more social than Congo African Greys who may bond more to one person. Individual personality differences do exist -- and much of it may depend on the level of socialization an African Grey got during its early stages of development as well as continued socialization throughout its life. Due to their highly intelligent nature, the African Grey can become easily bored and inactivity may quickly lead to behavioural problems such as feather picking. African Greys that are bored have a tendency to chews things and consistent training and a diligent owner are a must for this vivacious bird.
These intelligent birds are best suited to people who have experience with pet birds and are familiar with their ongoing care requirements. If you fulfill his or her needs, you will have a lifelong friend - as the lifespan of an African Grey is up to an over 60 years, a big commitment, however, if you are a true Parrot lover you will appreciate having a true friend for life. African Grey Parrots are paticularly noted for their exceptional talking talking and cognitive abilities.Irene Pepperberg's extensively published research with captive African Greys, including Alex, has shown that these Parrots are capable of associating human words with their meanings. They also mimick sounds and voices quite accurately
Training and Behavioral Guidance:
African Greys are amongst the easier parrots to keep. This being said, they do present challenges, such as excessive chewing - especially at certain stages in their life. They do discover their beaks as method of "disciplining us" once they are out of the "baby stage" and they can generally be somewhat naughty, and it really is important to learn to understand them and to guide their behavior before an undesirable behavior has been established. Undisciplined parrots will chew on electric wiring potentially causing house fires. They regard anything in your home as a "toy" that can be explored and chewed on; destroying items that you may hold dear or are simply valuable. Even a young bird that has not been neglected and abused requires proper guidance; this becomes even more challenging when it involves a rescued bird that may require rehabilitation.
In the wild, they feed primarily on palm nuts, fruits and seeds, supplemented by leafy matter. They have even been observed eating snails. However, captive - bred African Greys are often fed a diet of seeds, grain, pellets* and fruits / veggies. African Greys are often inflicted with calcium deficiencies, and I found it challenging to get my African Greys to eat from their cuddlebones. My solution was to scrape it over their daily soft food. This method worked well for me. Grinding up egg shells and mixing that in with the soft food is also a great way to increase your Grey's calcium consumption