Ah, the African Grey. The perfect embodiment of beauty and brains. The “Einsteins” of the bird world.
They are not only stunning but are also one of the smartest birds in the world. According to research, these remarkable creatures share the same cognitive ability as that of a five-year-old. Take a moment to let that sink in.
Of all the 350+ parrot species that exist, they display the greatest ability to mimic human speech almost to a T. They are capable of learning 1000+ words’ worth of vocabulary in any language, which is pretty amazing if you think about it.
What you probably did not know is that there’s more than one kind of African Grey parrot that exists.
That’s right. While they all look similar, there are two distinct kinds and several other lesser-known subspecies of this fascinating parrot. Plus, they can live for up to 80 years.
If you’re looking for a lifetime companion, you will love having the African Grey as a pet. Before you go off and buy one, here’s everything you need to know about them.
African Grey Parrot Facts
As the name suggests, the African Grey has mottled grey plumage with a white mask enclosing its yellow eyes. It has a large, black bill and a conspicuous, red-colored tail and vent.
Female African Greys have a prominent pale grey crown lined with darker edges and a grey body with crimson tail feathers. The female and male parrots look quite similar in their appearance, although the latter gets slightly darker with age.
Mature African Greys measure approximately 13.3 inches and weigh roughly 14 oz. (400 g). They reach sexual maturity within four to seven years and have a clutch size of two to four eggs.
Their incubation period spans 28 days, and the fledgling duration of baby Greys usually lasts 12 weeks. The African Grey parrot lifespan is between 50 and 55 years, although birds in this species can live to a ripe old age of 80.
The question on your mind at this point is – How much does an African Grey parrot cost? The bird could set you back anywhere between $1,500 and $3,600. It all depends on the subspecies you want to get. The two most common options are the Congo African Grey and the Timneh African Grey.
African Grey Parrot Intelligence
In addition to being a highly sought-after pet, the African Grey also happens to be one of the world’s most intelligent animals.
There has been a lot of research in recent years to investigate their ability to use their extensive vocabulary in context to communicate with their owners. What is it that makes them so intelligent?
The brain of the African Grey is very similar to that of primates. There’s a large area in their brain that acts as an information superhighway, connecting the brain’s two main regions – the cortex and the cerebellum.
This gives them remarkable problem-solving skills, allows them to communicate their desires, add, subtract and count, and develop sophisticated cognitive skills comparable to those of primates.
How to Care for an African Grey Parrot
If you’re thinking of keeping African Grey parrots, there’s a lot you’ll need to learn about caring for them to enjoy the qualities that come with owning one.
For starters, these birds love routine. They also enjoy having a stable environment to live in.
They form strong bonds with their owners, which some people refer to as being emotionally needy. Because of this trait, they require a lot of time and attention from their owners. They cope well with individuals who can devote a large chunk of their time to socializing with them every day.
They also need to exercise a lot to keep their muscles strong and active. This means they have to spend the better part of the day outside their cages, playing and moving about to remain in tip-top shape throughout their lives.
As you can already tell so far, getting an African Grey is a lifetime commitment. It’s not the sort of decision you make on a whim.
You need to be fully devoted to caring for it for the rest of your life. Nonetheless, given how likable, social, and intelligent they are, it’s all worth it in the end.
What Do African Grey Parrots Eat
Out in the wild, the African Grey diet consists of various nuts, wild fruits, and vegetables.
While it may be difficult to duplicate these foods for birds in captivity, a varied diet with a wide range of nutrients and minerals is recommended for healthy living and psychological stimulation.
You wouldn’t eat the same type of food every single day for the rest of your life, so why would you expect your parrot to?
To make sure your bird is getting complete and balanced nutrition, the best thing to do would be to put them on formulated diets, which are usually in the form of crumbles or pellets.
These should make up at least 75 percent of what they eat. Twenty percent can be a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, and some dark, leafy greens. The remaining five percent can be reserved for seeds and other treats.
Foraging Toys for African Grey Parrots
As you already know by now, the African Grey is an intelligent bird, so they need constant mental stimulation to keep them sharp and entertained. These parrots excel at bird puzzles and foraging toys designed to make them think.
This could be anything from figuring out how to untie a leather knot to maneuvering toy parts to unlock a hidden treat. Any toy that gives your parrot exciting foraging experiences is what they need to keep them sharp.
A Lifetime Commitment
All in all, the African Grey parrot is an excellent option for anyone looking to own a bird.
When you do get one, you’ll quickly learn that it’s more than a simple pet. You’ll have a friend for life. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
For more information on caring for African Greys, use our online Vet Chat to talk to a qualified veterinarian today.