The African grey parrot, one of the smartest birds ever studied, is exceptionally good at imitating speech. They can be wonderful and affectionate, but like other large parrots, African greys are considered high-maintenance pets.
|African Grey Parrots: A Comprehensive Guide to African Grey Parrot Care|
Although "greys" are entertaining and rewarding to keep, they prefer a routine schedule and require lots of time with their owners. Therefore, African grey Parrots may not be suitable for those who work irregular hours, travel frequently, or spend many hours away from home.
Quick facts on African Grey:
- How long will my African Grey live?
They can live 60 to 80 years.
- How Big Will My African Grey Be?
They will grow about 33 cm.
- Which cage size is ideal for my African grey?
They require a mesh enclosure of at least 40" X 30" X 65".
- What Does An African Grey Eat?
South American fruit and vegetable pellets.
- Is it easy to care for an African Grey?
They are advanced maintenance pets.
Care Instructions For Your African Grey Parrot
One of the most well-known and intelligent parrot species is the African grey, which is also one of the most intelligent. These impressive birds possess the mental and emotional maturity of a 5-year-old human child, according to recent research. Because they are so intelligent, African grey parrots form very strong bonds with their owners and can be very emotionally needy. Because of this trait, they do best with owners who can devote enough time to handling and socializing with them daily Additionally, African grey parrots need plenty of exercises to keep their muscles strong and toned and maintain proper body condition. This necessitates that they have access to supervised "parrot-proof" spaces where they can play for a few hours each day outside of their cages.
Find A Suitable Cage
You should consider the largest cage you can find and afford. It should be at least 90 square centimeters and about 1.2 meters high so that the parrot has room to roam around inside the cage. African grey by black angel on Flickr the spacing between the bars must be between 1.9 and 2.5 centimeters, and the bars must be horizontal so that your animal can climb inside the cage.
While a large cage allows the bird to move around, it also has a specific area that is also occupied by perches, feeders, and toys. A variety of perches should be provided. Perches should be of different materials, different thicknesses, and made from natural products, as parrots are destructive and chew on things to keep their beaks in shape. Food dispensers can be bowls with safety devices to prevent your parrot from lifting it up and emptying the contents.
African grey parrots are very intelligent birds, so a good selection of toys can provide stimulation and entertainment when you're not around. Toys should be checked regularly for any signs of damage to prevent parts of the toys from being swallowed or causing strangulation or entrapment while your parrot plays and explores its surroundings. Try mixing up the toys to keep your parrot interested in his toys. A gym and time away from the cage are also beneficial.
Choose The Location Of The Cage
Place the cage near where the parrot can interact with people. Parrots are very social birds. Without socialization, parrots can be affected by mental and physical disorders that affect their health and well-being. You should keep the cages away from drafts and direct sunlight.
Choosing the Best Diet African grey Parrot Is A Part Of Caring
Some African greys are picky eaters, but this is often attributed to the lack of variety in food at the weaning time. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, seeds, protein, and pellets should all be included in an African grey diet. Seed mixes are not particularly healthy for parrots, so should only be provided as part of a balanced diet.
Wild parrots will fly great distances to find different foods; however, in captivity, a parrot's diet is controlled by us. Therefore, we must ensure that an African grey receives a supply of all of its minerals, vitamins, and daily food and water intake from a variety of sources. Calcium is also important for protecting bone development and structure, as African grey Parrots are prone to calcium deficiency, which can be provided by a selection of green vegetables.
All food and water provided to feed a parrot should be fresh. Stale or rotting food will make your parrot sick, so you should change the water and fresh food daily and be sure to wash all feeding containers daily. If you have a stock of dishes, you can use clean dishes one day, then thoroughly wash the dishes that have been used the next day. This way your parrot is never left without food or water for an extended period.
Width over Height for African Greys
Many African Greys with behavioral and feather destruction issues that I have seen in my practice are housed in very tall cages. It's a long way if the bird falls inside the cage, and it can lead to some of the problems discussed. Some birds are frequently allowed to climb onto the top of the cage, and when frightened, curious, or wanting to search for their owner, they jump up to fly. If they have over-trimmed wing feathers, they fall, sometimes hitting the corner of a piece of furniture on their way to the hard floor. Shorter, but very wide and deep birdcages are the best type of cage for an African Grey. This way, if the bird falls, it decreases the risk of serious injury. To stop your bird from falling out of the cage, keep it off the top. Instead, place it on a game stand closer to the ground. Also, interact with your bird sitting on the ground.
Don't let the African Greys Fall down
A hard fall, in my opinion, is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle as to why African Greys develop so many problems. African Greys are heavy-bodied birds and when they fall they often hit the edge of the sternum and come down hard on their feet. This compresses their chest, which forces air out of their lungs. The force rises in the shoulders and in the hips, generating pain.
Sometimes they wave their wing feathers (often over-trimmed) and bang their wings against objects as they descend. Injuries, such as the opening of the skin over the sternum or the rupture of the skin under the tail, can be common effects of falling. Young Greys often begin to destroy their feathers in these same areas, suggesting that this may be associated with impact damage.
When your African Grey is hurt and frightened, he may associate these negative aspects with his owner. A fearful African Grey may start biting or be aggressive. He can also damage himself further by trying to fly away from what frightens him, probably falling back. This is a self-propagating cycle that, if left untreated, can seriously affect your relationship with your Grey.
Let the African Grey parrots Fledge
An important step towards a well-adjusted African Grey is to allow it to "break its wings", so to speak. If you have a young grey, do not have its wing feathers trimmed yet. Wait until he has started learning to fly (meaning he can take off and land smoothly and perform basic maneuvers, such as turning and landing at his destination).
Once your African Grey has mastered basic flight, consider a light-wing feather trim. A light trim usually refers to trimming the five outer flight feathers to about half their length. With this type of trim, your Grey should be able to take off but not gain altitude. As the bird grows and gains strength, additional pruning may be needed even if there is no more feather growth.
Sometimes an African Grey's feathers are trimmed all at once by the groomer or vet, so be sure to ask for a very gentle trim and come back more frequently for "maintenance" trims. The purpose of the eventual trimming of the wing feathers is to allow the bird to go gently down to the ground in a controlled downward glide for a distance of 7 to 10 feet.
Sometimes a cut is made in such a way that it leaves sharp ends on the feather that rub and irritate the side of the bird. The bird often reacts to this irritation by chewing on the wing feathers or under the wing, which can lead to further feather chewing. Ask the person trimming your bird's feathers to leave the outer edges of the feathers slightly longer so they rest smoothly against the bird's side.
If your African Grey has had a recent trimming of wing feathers, periodically check the tips of the wings for signs of chewing. The tips will appear jagged and ragged, much like broomstick fiber. These jagged edges can cause further problems as the bird attempts to "soften" or remove the rough edges again, thus causing rougher edges.
If your Grey starts chewing his feathers in this way, bring him to the attention of your avian vet as soon as possible so those ragged feathers can be trimmed before they get worse. If the feathers are shredded, the bird will be attracted to the site and shred further; this can grow at the base of the feather, allowing the feather to open under the skin, and causing infection and pain. It can also lead to further feather destruction and feather picking.
Nails and Perches for African Greys
Nature gave Greys (like many African parrots) very sharp, needle-like nails. Greys do a lot of climbing in the wild, and they use these nails to dig into wood to keep them safe while they feed and spend time with the herd.
For an owner, it hurts when those needle-like nails dig into the skin, leaving painful scratches or sores. Many people have their Grey's nails clipped and, as often happens, the nails are dulled to the point that the bird cannot firmly grasp a perch. The bird may become more clumsy and skittish because it cannot move without slipping. As a result, the bird may be unsteady and reach out to bite something (a finger, arm, etc.) to stabilize itself. Panic attacks and fear bites are two possible outcomes of this nervousness.
Have the Grey nails trimmed to a point where the bird can perch safely and they won't bother you when the bird is perched on your hand? Also, look for bird perches that allow your grey's foot to go almost all the way (but not quite), and vary the type and texture of perches you give your grey. Natural branches and perches with texture, like those made of concrete or sand, are particularly useful (watch for foot irritation). Keep in mind that perch with smooth bark, such as manzanita, adds to the slipperiness of the perch, and the Grey may fall off.
Place the perches slightly lower in the cage in case the bird falls, at least while the Grey is very young. As the bird hones its climbing skills, you can then raise the perches.
A no-no for almost any parrot, especially a young African Grey, is being on someone's shoulder. Think of your shoulder as a wide, slippery perch, which can make a Grey unsteady and cause the bird to fall. Have your Grey sit on your hand with the elbow lower than the hand to prevent the bird from climbing onto your shoulder. Or sit on your knees or on your upper leg while you are seated.
African Grey Speaks
The ability of African Greys to vocalize in our language, particularly in context, is well known. However, I find that many Greys have inherent language since several sounds are used by many Greys I have encountered.
I've seen greys, on their own, click and clunk when they see the food they like. They react, especially when they are anxious, to very soft whispers, especially when there are a lot of "Sss" and light hissing. These are sounds bonded couples use during quiet, private times together.
I use those soft whispers of clicks and "shooshing" when I first meet African Greys in the exam hall to introduce myself. I find most of them relax with these sounds and are more manageable for my medical care as they seem less scared and stressed.
African Greys Might Feel Vulnerable
Many African Greys seem to experience anxiety; they bite their nails frequently, flip their wings, bob their heads back and forth as if looking for a place to go, seeming unable to sit still. African Greys in the wild are wary birds with excellent evasive reflexes, as seen in videos. African Greys in the wild typically forage in tree branches, hidden in dense leaves. They don't spend much time in clearings, and when they do, they are quite watchful.
In the household, an owner may put his African Grey's cage next to a window, thinking the bird wants to look up and see everything. While some Greys seem comfortable with it, other greys seem to feel especially vulnerable and exposed in this type of housing (like the way a person might feel alive in a department store window).
Move the cage so Grey can choose to watch or hide from what he thinks is there. Some birds do well when a visible barrier (such a blanket or towel) is placed over a portion of the cage, allowing them to hide there anytime they wish. You can also have a row of bird toys hanging in front of a perch at the back of the cage to make a little hiding place for your Grey. It's a way to provide a sense of visual security, as the hanging toys form a veil behind which the bird can perch.
You can do a few things to assist your Grey in relaxing. First, be calm. If you are anxious about anything (including that your Grey is anxious!), this anxiety can be seen as a signal to your bird that something is wrong with the flock, allowing the anxiety to continue. Second, decrease activity around the cage. Place the cage where the Grey is not constantly exposed to loud noises or running children and other pets. Provide a hiding place for your Grey and have guests move slowly around the bird. Thirdly, and most importantly, whisper quietly. I find soft whispering, clicking and whispering seem to lower anxiety energy levels in all Greys (including juveniles).
Common Health Issues Among African Greys
Psittacosis: A type of bacterial lung infection commonly carried by wild and domestic birds, and can be transmitted to humans.
Respiratory infections: Usually caused by bacteria infecting the respiratory system of birds due to vitamin A deficiency, however, they can be caused by many other factors such as fungi, parasites, and environmental toxins.
Bacterial Infections: There are many common bacterial diseases that birds are susceptible to which are usually caused by poor hygiene or stress, especially when there is another factor compromising the bird's immune system.
The signs of the disease
Does your African grey show any signs of illness or disease? If so, please consult your veterinarian.
- puffy feathers
- Runny nose
- Behavior out of character
- Discolored poop or diarrhea
Things You Need To Care For An African Grey
We've created a shopping list to show what you need to care for an African Grey:
- Cage; Medium gauge wire 40" X 30" X 65"
- Food and water bowls
- cage storage
- Ozpet Litter
- cage cover
- Avicare Disinfectant
- Lice & Mites Spray
- transport cage
- Natural perches
- Cement perches
- foraging toys
- colorful toys
- Parrot rug
- game stand
Different Types Of African Grey Parrots
TTimnehand Congo is the two varieties of African grey. They are from various regions of Africa. Although there are many ways in which they are similar types of parrots, they differ slightly.
African Grey Timneh
Psittacus Erithacus timneh, an African grey parrot, is native to Central Africa, which includes Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and western Africa.
It is the smaller of the two subspecies, measuring 9 to 11 inches from beak to tail. 13 to 15 inches are on its wingspan. African greys weigh 300–360 grams, according to Timneh African Greys in Beauty of Birds.
Timneh Congos are a lighter gray than African greys. On the head, back, and upper chest, they have dark grey feathers. On the abdomen, a V-shaped pattern is formed by additional dark feathers sitting over light grey plumage.
The tail is red or brown, and the feathers beneath it are a dark red or maroon color. The beak has black sides and a pink tint.
African Grey of Congo
Guinea, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast are some of the smaller coastal nations in Africa where the Congo African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) can be found. Its wingspan is 18–20 inches, and it is bigger than the Timneh, measuring 14–16 inches. A Congo African grey typically weighs between 380 and 554 grams.
On the head, they have darker feathers that gradually get lighter until they are a silvery grey color on the chest and legs. Near-black wings are present. They have a white scalloped edge where the feathers are darker or the lightest silver. The tail stands out against the rest of the feathers while the nails and beak are completely black.
A bright white skin patch can be seen where the area around the eyes and above the nose is missing feathers. When they're happy, angry, or scared, this enables their blush to turn pink. The Congo African grey is the subspecies that is found in the pet trade more frequently than the other two.
My African grey has brought me great joy and has taught me a lot about life and living over our 20 years together. As a result, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the housing and care requirements for these magnificent parrots, both as an owner and an avian veterinarian.