About the African Grey
Zaksee Parrot Sanctuary

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African Grey Parrots

Psittacus erithacus

The African grey parrot is one of the most talented talking / mimicking birds on the planet, giving it quite a reputation among bird enthusiasts. Not only do bird keepers love this intelligent bird, it’s one of the most recognizable species to bird novices as well — everyone knows the African grey parrot. This parrot is one of the oldest psitticine species kept by humans, with records of the bird dating back to biblical times. Understated beauty and a brainy no-nonsense attitude are what keep this parrot at the peak of popularity.

Because they are so intelligent, African Grey Parrots form very strong bonds with their owners and can be quite emotionally needy. Due to this trait, they do best with owners who can devote ample time to handling and socializing with them on a daily basis. In addition, African Grey parrots need a lot of exercise in order to keep their strong muscles toned and maintain an adequate physical condition. This means that they must be able to spend several hours per day outside of their cages, playing in supervised, "parrot proof" areas.

At first glance, the African grey is a medium-sized, dusty-looking gray bird, almost pigeon-like — but further investigation reveals a bright red tail, intelligent orange eyes, and a stunning scalloped pattern to its plumage.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

African grey parrots generally inhabit savannas, coastal mangroves, woodland and edges of forest clearings in their West and Central Africa range. Though the larger of the African grey subspecies is referred to as the Congo African grey, this bird actually has a much wider natural range in Africa, including the southeastern Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Tanzania. The Timneh African grey is found in a smaller region along the western edge of the Ivory Coast and through southern Guinea. Their diet in the wild consists mostly of palm nuts, seeds, fruits, and leafy matter.

Care & Feeding

There’s a reason why the African grey is often considered the poster bird for parrot intelligence — not only is this bird inclined to amass a large vocabulary, African greys also demonstrate an aptitude for recognizing the meaning of words and phrases.

Most people can relate to the difficulties of keeping a young child occupied, so it's not a stretch to say that keeping a highly intelligent bird from getting bored can be similar. African Grey parrots need plenty of mental stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy, so they must be provided with a variety of toys and other ways to exercise their minds. Otherwise, they can resort to destructive behavior and develop unpleasant habits that might require professional intervention.

Should you get an African Grey Parrot

African Grey Parrot's are sociable birds. In the wild they spend most of their time in large communal flocks. A solitary African Grey will NOT be happy. If you work regular long hours or spend much of your time away from home on a regular basis and your parrot will be left alone for long periods of time then an African Grey is NOT the right pet for you! African Grey's need long periods of time outside of their cage and lots of human contact is vital! These are very intelligent creatures who thrive on learning and keeping busy.

In the wild an African Grey will spend much of it's time foraging for food and enjoying flock time with other 'Greys', and at breeding time, nest building and bonding time with their partners is a real display of the love and loyalty. Simply buying an African Grey in the hope that it will live out it's very long lifespan of around 60 years imprisoned in a cage, looking pretty and chatting away is NOT reason enough to buy them! They need more and deserve more! Can you imaging being caged into a small area for your lifetime without the ability to use your legs, and with no company or love? Would be tragic wouldn't it! If this is how you intend to keep your parrot then problems will lay ahead for you and your bird for sure.

Human contact is vital for their mental health, so if your circumstances are likely to change in the near future then maybe you should reconsider buying an African Grey, rather than buying and having to sell it on when your situation changes as it really is not good for parrots to keep having to be re-homed and causes a number of problems to the bird.

Because they are so intelligent, African Grey Parrots form very strong bonds with their owners and can be quite emotionally needy. Due to this trait, they do best with owners who can devote ample time to handling and socializing with them on a daily basis. In addition, African Grey parrots need a lot of exercise in order to keep their strong muscles toned and maintain an adequate physical condition. This means that they must be able to spend several hours per day outside of their cages, playing in supervised, "parrot proof" areas.

At first glance, the African grey is a medium-sized, dusty-looking gray bird, almost pigeon-like — but further investigation reveals a bright red tail, intelligent orange eyes, and a stunning scalloped pattern to its plumage.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

African grey parrots generally inhabit savannas, coastal mangroves, woodland and edges of forest clearings in their West and Central Africa range. Though the larger of the African grey subspecies is referred to as the Congo African grey, this bird actually has a much wider natural range in Africa, including the southeastern Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Tanzania. The Timneh African grey is found in a smaller region along the western edge of the Ivory Coast and through southern Guinea. Their diet in the wild consists mostly of palm nuts, seeds, fruits, and leafy matter.

Noise

Before buying an African Grey Parrot, Something which should be seriously considered is the noise which these birds can make. African Grey's really are the smartest of birds when it comes to mimicking and talking! Many but not all will become great talkers! Talking usually begins when the bird is around one year old as this is when their vocal range will be properly developed, although many 'Greys' will say the odd word or mimic sounds and whistles much earlier than this.

BUT aside from the talking, African Grey Parrots are very noisy birds. First thing in the morning and early in the evening 'Greys' will become extremely vocal. The calls they do during this time are natural sounds for this species of bird - it is programed into their natural instincts. These noises consist of a multitude of whistles, calls and very loud screeches! Infact some of these noises can be ear peircing! The reason these calls are built into the bird is for purposes within their flocks in the wild. Like many other species of birds, they are simply using these calls to let other flock members know they are there, in their territory safe and well. This will be at the start of their day and at the end when they go back to roost for the night.

If you live in an apartment or home where noise levels must be kept low, then these noises can be a serious problem for a potential owner of a 'Grey', as you will not only have to worry if you can tollerate them or not but also if your neighbours and other members of your household can tolerate them too. Also consider things such as having a young baby or children who may be disturbed by these noises or maybe you or your partner work shifts and would have disturbed sleep during the parrot's noisy time. Also do you have a child or elderly person living with you who's ears may be less tolerant than yours? All of these factors must be considered before deciding to purchase an African Grey and bringing it into your home.

Another noise problem is attention screeching. This does not apply to all African Grey Parrots, but some learn to screech out in high pitch tones when the person to whom they have bonded with leaves the room or home. It is purely an insecurity in the bird which will start this kind of behaviour off and it can be quite disturbing to hear and very difficult to overcome once started. Birds in particular that are left alone for long periods of time or not allowed enough out of cage time may be prone to this.

African Grey's can also become jealous of new and other pets, this can also lead to screeching behaviour. Parrots will learn that screeching and lots of noise will get them the attention which they crave- even if it is an angry response, to them it is better than no response. So a jealous parrot which is left alone for hours, shut away for lengthy hours or ignored for another pet, may become a screecher- this is something which should always be considered and avoided before the trouble starts. All of these issues MUST be considered in order to give your 'Grey' the best possible care and for you both to live in harmony with one another.

We all know that purchasing an African Grey does not come cheap! - But hey! that's a good thing! Hopefully this means that people regard these beautiful bird's as less disposable pets and are more responsible as owner's having paid good money! As with all pets though, there are ongoing cost's beyond just purchasing them and this is something we must consider as parrots, unlike other pets such as cats and dogs, hopefully will have a very long lifespan - up to 60 years! Although it is impossible for us to predict our future financial security many years ahead in this day and age, we should as responsible owner's be prepared to cover the nescessaties as we would do if we were considering becoming a parent and having a child - besides your parrot WILL be a new family member!

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