African Grey Parrot

The Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), also called The Congo grey parrot and African grey parrot is an Old World parrot in the family of Psittacidae. This species is known under the name of Timneh parrot. Timneh bird (Psittacus Timneh) once was identified as a subspecies of grey parrot. However, it is now an entire species.

Description

  • Grey parrots are medium-sized, mostly grey, black-billed parrots.
  • The average weight is 400 grams (14 pounds) and has an estimated length of 33cm (13 in), and the wingspan is 46-52 cm (18-20+1/2 in).
  • The grey hue on the wings and head is usually darker than that of its body.
  • The body and head feathers have a white edge.
  • Tail feathers appear red.
  • Due to selection made by breeders of parrots, some grey parrots appear partially or entirely red. Both genders appear similar.
  • The coloration of young birds is comparable to adults.
  • However, typically, the eyes of juveniles are dark grey or black as opposed to the yellow iris that surrounds dark pupils in adult birds.
  • In addition, their coverts under the tail are tinged grey.
  • Adults weigh between 418 and grams (14+3/4-18+1/2 oz).

African grey parrot lifespan

  • Grey parrots may live for 40-60 years in captivity.
  • However, their mean lifespan in the wild appears to be shorter, approximately 23 years.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

  • Its name refers to the Timneh African grey Parrot is smaller than the popular Congo African grey (CAG).
  • It has a more dark grey body, almost black, and the appearance of a horned beak.
  • Its tail varies in hues ranging from dark maroon to black or grey.
  • African grey parrots typically reside in mangroves along the coast, savannas, woodlands and forest edges clearings within the West and Central Africa range.
  • Although the largest part of the African grey subspecies is often referred to as Congo African grey, this bird has a greater natural range throughout Africa, including the southern part of the Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Tanzania.
  •  Timneh African grey Parrot is a subspecies of the Timneh African grey found in a smaller part of the western part of the Ivory Coast and through southern Guinea.
  • The diet they eat in the wild is composed mainly of seeds, palm nuts, and fruits and leaves.

Habitat and distribution

  • Grey parrots are indigenous to equatorial Africa, including Angola, Cameroon, the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
  • The species can be found in an area extending from Kenya through the western portion of the Ivory Coast.
  • The current estimates of the world’s population are uncertain.
  • They vary between 630,000 and 13 million bird species.
  • The population is declining worldwide.
  • The species appears to prefer dense forests; however, it can also be located near forest edges and in open-land vegetation forms, such as galleries and savanna forests.
  • A study on population dynamics published in 2015 showed that the species was “virtually eliminated” from Ghana, with numbers dropping between 90 and 91% in the years since the year 1992.
  •  They were discovered in just 10 of the 42 areas of forested habitat, and three roosts which used to hold 700-2000 birds had now only 18 birds in all.
  • Locals have blamed pet trading and the reduction of timber in the decrease.
  • In the Congo, approximately 15,000 annually are captured for the pet trade from the country’s eastern region. However, the annual quota is reported as 5 000.
  • The grey parrot may have fled or been deliberately allowed to be released in Florida, the USA; however, there is no evidence to suggest whether the populations are reproducing naturally.

Behaviour and ecological considerations

Wild bird behaviour

  •  Due to the absence of research funding, it could be difficult to research these birds in wild circumstances because of their status as prey animals.
  • This causes them to be somewhat secretive personality traits.
  • It has been proven that wild greys can mimic a range of sounds similar to their captive counterparts.
  • Two greys were observed sitting on a roost in Zaire.
  •  The researchers found that they could imitate over 200 distinct sounds, including nine mimics of wild bird songs and bats.

Personality & Behavior

  • Parrots are highly complex, extremely sensitive and more than demanding.
  • They’re also adorable and beautiful.
  • However, this combination of sensitiveness and brains could result in behavioural issues.
  • These are routine animals, and even a slight alteration in routine could make an anxious grey feel unhappy.
  •  They are at risk of taking their feathers out and chewing them as well as other bad behaviour.
  • According to anecdotal evidence, the TAG has a more robust attitude.
  •  It is a good choice for families with lots of visitors and departing.
  • African greys have social birds who require a lot of time with their hands, but they’re not “cuddle bugs.”
  • They will allow some head-scratching and even a touch; however, they don’t like intense physical contact, although some people are fine with some cuddling.
  • Each bird has its tastes and preferences.
  •  Grays are also one “one person bird,” even if everyone in the household is social with it from the start.

Speech & Sound

  • A large part of the appeal of grey is due to its ability to talk.
  • It’s one of the top talking parrots and can repeat phrases and words after hearing them only one or two times.
  • The bird attains full speaking ability at around one year of age.
  • Still, most people can mimic much earlier.
  • Alex and Dr Pepperberg worked together for over 30 decades in Brandeis University until his unfortunate death in 2007 due to a tragic incident related to arteriosclerosis (“hardening of the arterial walls”).
  •  Dr Pepperberg taught Alex to discern and recognize objects such as colours, shapes, and colours through their decades of work.
  • Greys may be intelligent and decide to talk instead of shouting; it’s a mistake to assume they’re not loud.
  • They’re not as loud and stubborn as other South American species.
  • Still, they can learn common sounds and use them constantly at the expense of their parents.
  •  Imagine the microwave constantly chirping or the phone constantly ringing, without the luxury of shutting it down.

Diet

  • In the wild, the grey parrot is primarily an animal that feeds on the ground.
  • They primarily prey on animals since the bulk of their diet is made up of nuts, fruits, and seeds.
  • The species is a fan of oil palm fruits and consume tree bark and flowers and insects and snails.
  • In captivity, they can be fed bird pellets, various fruits, including pear, apple, orange, pomegranate and bananas, and vegetables like carrots and sweet potato cooked and celery, fresh kale and peas as green beans. They also require an intake of calcium.

Breeding

  • Grey Parrots are single-games breeders, and they have nested within tree cavities.
  • Every pair of parrots requires an individual tree to make their nest.
  • The hen is the one who lays up to five eggs which they incubate for 30 days, and is fed by her partner.
  • Grey parrot chicks require food and attention from their parents within the nest.
  • The parents provide care for them until about 4-5 weeks after they’ve fledged.
  • Young fledged chicks leave their nest around 12 weeks.
  •  It is unclear what is the behaviour of courtship in birds in the wild.
  • They weigh 12-14 grams (7/16-1/2 oz) when they hatch and 372-526 grams (13+1/8-18+1/2 oz) after they depart from their parents.

Health & Common Conditions

  • African greys are more prone to feather picks and calcium deficiency, vitamin-A and D deficiency, respiratory infections, psittacosis and Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD).

Diseases

  • Children of African grey parrots can be more often afflicted by the psittacine beak and feather illness than adults.
  • Birds with the disease may display decreased appetite and fluffy feathers, slowness, sluggishness, and decreased walking ability due to brittle bones.

Relationship with humans

  • The species is widespread in captivity and is frequently used for humans to use as a pet parrot.
  • It is admired for its ability to imitate human speech.
  • This makes it among the most sought-after birds as pets.
  • A pet that was eluded located in Japan is returned to its owner after reciting the owner’s address.
  • Grey parrots are renowned for mimicking sounds that they hear in their surroundings and then constantly using them.
  • They are extremely intelligent animals and require ample social and behavioural stimulation and a great deal of monitoring in captivity.
  • Otherwise, they could become stressed.
  •  The plucking of feathers is a common sign of distress in these grey parrots.
  • Also, they may be susceptible to behavioural issues because of their sensitive nature.
  • Social isolation increases stress and ageing.

Care & Feeding

  • There’s a reason this African grey is frequently regarded as the parrot’s poster bird of intelligence.
  •  Not only does this bird tend to build up a vocabulary, but African greys also show an ability to recognize the meaning behind phrases and words.
  • African greys require plenty of toys to test their brains, including foraging toys and puzzles.
  • The Nutri-Berries are a complete food that contains an array of seeds, grains, and other nutrients in the shape of a fruit.
  • Since the seeds and grains are mostly whole and are moulded in a berry-like shape and shape, it allows African greys to grip, nibble, and play with Nutri-Berries.
  • African greys are particularly sensitive to stress and noise within their surroundings.
  • They could be placed at ease when you place the cage’s corner against a wall instead of the centre of the room.
  • African grey parrots are more prone to deficiency in vitamin-A/beta-carotene.
  • They, therefore, benefit from eating vegetables high in beta-carotene, such as cooked sweet potato and fresh kale.
  • Vitamin D deficiencies are another issue and are particularly a concern for greys with low-calorie diets.
  • Offering an adequate, balanced diet like Nutri-Berries for the principal diet of greys from the African grey is a good way to ensure no vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Greys who eat pelleted food generally does not require vitamin supplements to supplement the food it eats.

Get an African Grey Parrot

  • The two subspecies that belong to the African grey parrot, the Congo African grey ( Psittacus Erithacus Erithacus), also called the red-tailed grey, and The CAG and Timneh African grey ( Psittacus Erithacus Timneh), or TAG.
  • The big Congo greys are “Cameroons” because it initially believed them that they were a different species that originated from the region; however, in reality, the bigger birds were transported into Cameroon and were in its export paperwork.
  •  They are found in a wide range of sizes and shades of grey because their habitat is big.
  • But the CAG, regardless of size or colour, remains the same species.
  • The CAG is more well-known than the other subspecies, having a larger size, an orange tail, and a black beak.
  •  Its TAG is smaller, with an even darker grey body that is almost black.
  • It also has a horn-coloured beak.
  • Its tail can range in hues ranging from black or dark grey.
  • Both birds make excellent partners.
  • African grey parrots tend to be sold in avian-speciality retailers or from a breeder.
  • African greys may also be available for adoption by bird rescue or adoption organizations.

Intelligence and cognition

  • Due to their abilities to be intelligent and mimic human speech patterns, African greys are among the most loved pet bird in the world.
  •  They breed well in captivity, and there are at the very least 1.3 million African grey parrots that were legally exported from Africa over the last four decades, mainly to countries of the Middle East.
  • But many hundreds of thousands of others, possibly more, have perished in transport or have been illegally taken out of the forest areas in West and Central Africa as part of the illegal wildlife trade.
  • Grays are generally gregarious and social; this makes them a breeze to capture.
  • Trappers, particularly within regions like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, take down trees to remove baby birds from nests or set out wood sticks covered in glue to trap roosting adults with many.
  •  Grays that are caught in the likely wild die during the transit.
  • In 2016, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) cited that oversees trade between rare species on the international market took the controversial decision of banning all trade between the wild African greys, excluding “exceptional circumstances.”
  • In 2018 the bird was designated as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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