When the topic of pet parrots is presented, a lot of people think big colourful birds that talk back at their owners. This is a beautiful mental picture, but it’s not all there is to know about parrots.
There are several species of this beautiful feathered creature, and they each have a unique look and character. Hence if you are looking to keep one as a pet, you must know about what species are available in your environment and the characteristics of your preferred species so that caring for it becomes an easy job.
One of the most famous species of parrot is the African Grey parrot. This lovely bird has been kept as a pet by people for thousands of years. The African Grey parrot has the unique ability to reason and imitate human speech, and that has worked well for them as they have become famous due to their strange gift.
They have been the subject of many types of research and have also become a highly sought after breed of bird in the pet market. While a lot of people are eager to acquire one of these feathered fellows as a pet, it is vital for potential owners to be sure they possess the means and the time required to be a parent to an African Grey parrot before going ahead with adoption.
This article will explain what the day to day activities of an African Grey parrot parent should entail when it comes to caring for the pet.
The African Grey parrot is also called by a name the subspecies are recognised by the CAG and the TAG. The TAG is a short name for the Timneh African grey parrot, while the CAG stands for the Congo African grey parrot.
The Scientific name
The scientific or taxonomical name for the African Grey parrot is known as Psittacus erithacus. This bird species have been divided traditionally into two subspecies: The Psittacus erithacus timneh (for the Timneh grey subspecies), and the Psittacus erthacu erithacus (for the Congo grey subspecies). Nevertheless, subsequent research in recent times has reclassified the timneh grey as a species of its own, the Psittacus timneh, leaving the Congo grey alone in the Psittacus erthacus class. However, other species are still identified as the African Grey parrot in the pet market.
The history and origin
The African grey parrot species of bird originally comes from the equatorial region of Africa, and it includes Ghana, Cameroon, Angola, Congo, Ghana, and Uganda. This species of parrot prefers to live in the dense forests and open savanna areas. They sometimes are found in forest edges which is where they are easily caught.
The African grey parrot can grow as big as approximately 12 to 13 inches when measured from the beak to the tip of its tail at adulthood. The weight of this bird is between 10 to 20 ounce when fully grown with the Congo grey species being on the larger side.
The African Grey parrot is one species of bird that has longevity as a gift of nature. When properly cared for, your feathered pal can live as long as 50 years and in some cases 75 years.
The African Grey parrot is the most intelligent for apparent reasons. Upon observation of their behaviour, you can easily tell they are brilliant creatures apart from their ability to memorise and use hundreds of human words. These birds are very emotional, and they show it by displaying affection towards their owners and caregivers over time. They are also a very friendly species of birds, but when they are mistreated or neglected, they will not hesitate to show their anger at the slightest chance.
This bird is very complex as it exhibits a lot of contradictory characters. It is sociable and sweet but it isn’t a cuddly bird so you might want to respect the boundaries. Some of these birds have the trait of becoming friendly to only one person (the owner) no matter how much you train it to be sociable. So just like a human, they can be introverts and extroverts.
The African Grey parrot is not a shouter as it doesn’t have time to waste energy on unnecessary screaming when the heat can be channelled to talking and chattering. So if you live in an environment where noise is prohibited, and you need a pet, this is the perfect one for you.
Colours and markings
This bird is one that stays true to its identity “Grey”. They come with mostly grey feathers with a beautiful thing and pale edges in a few cases. The Congo grey is beautiful with their red tails and shiny black beaks that are strong enough to crack some nuts. The Tinmeh grey is also lovely with deep maroon tail feathers and horn coloured mandibles. However, the Congo grey is a lot larger than the Tinmeh in size.
Caring for the African Grey parrot
This species of parrot is a medium to a large sized bird. Hence it requires a reasonable size of living space. The smallest size of this bird’s cage should have a minimum of 2 x 2-foot footprint, with a height of 3 feet. However, a larger pen is always preferable as parrots like to play around. We already established the fact that the African Grey parrot is considered the most intelligent of the parrot species meaning that asides its ability to learn lots of words and engage in interactions, it requires a reasonable amount of mental stimulation and that is your job to provide.
In the absence of enough interaction and mental stimulation, your pet could become depressed and show it by engaging in some self-destructive behaviour such as plucking its feathers. These birds are toy lovers which is why they are happier and more active in places when they have access to toys, can learn a few tricks, and interact with people especially their owners. If you are a person who is often very busy and cannot spare plenty of hours communicating and teaching your bird new words, then you shouldn’t think of getting yourself an African Grey parrot.
If you love watching the TV or listening to the radio, then you should know that you are not the only one in this category. Many parrot owners have mentioned that their pet loves to have the radio or television playing when they are without company.
African Grey parrot can be snitches so you might want to be careful the thing you do or say around them. One parrot has alleged snitched on its owner’s cheating wife by repeatedly calling the wife’s lover’s name using her voice. You wouldn’t blame the bird because just like little kids, parrots are in the habit of repeating the things they hear. Because greys are sound lovers, they pick and replicate any sound they find fascinating. They could make sounds of squeaking doors, fire alarms, doorbells, and even your phone ringtone. Owners need to watch the things their birds hear and learn because once they mentally store a bad word, it becomes difficult or almost impossible for them to unlearn those words.
African Grey parrots are very sensitive and can easily be affected by harsh conditions, excess noise, and stress. You should consider keeping them in a less noisy corner of the room than in the middle where they would be exposed to such conditions.
Feeding your African Grey parrot
These birds are fruit lovers so if you can gain access to pomegranate, mangoes, and melons your pet would be grateful. A quality formulated pallettes feed are however the best-based parrot diet and should be supplemented with fruits from time to time. A lot of greys are also nut and snack lovers so you might want to consider purchasing some nuts in large quantities for your feathered buddy.
Another beautiful thing about this creatures is that they can feed on some of your regular table foods like breakfast toast, leftover salads, beans, and even rice. However, keep them away from spicy foods as they do not do well with pepper. Leafy greens and other Vegetables are nirvana for Greys, and they are sure to keep your bird very healthy.
Didn’t you know birds need training? Of course they do, and it is very vital if you want to keep they active. To keep your pet healthy, allow it to exercise for at least two hours outside the cage every day. Provide your parrot with sturdy chewable bird toys that they can play with during their exercise hour as this is the best way for them to keep their beaks active and robust.
Common health problems
The African Grey parrot can suffer from a variety of health challenges including feather picking, vitamin-D deficiency, vitamin-A deficiency, psittacine beak and feather disease, psittacosis, and respiratory infection.
You can prevent vitamin deficiencies by feeding your bird with a variety of fruits and veggies that are rich in beta-carotene such as fresh kale and some nicely cooked sweet potatoes.
When you notice your bird engaging in feather picking, it is a sign that it is bored and lacking enough mental stimulation.
If you feel the African Grey parrot isn’t the right species of parrot for you, check out other species of parrot that might interest you in subsequent articles.