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The African Grey Parrot

 

One of the most beautiful and among the easier species of parrot to keep is the African Grey Parrot.  Originating from central Africa, these birds are highly intelligent and known for their exceptional talking and cognitive ability.  African Greys are capable of developing a large vocabulary and are able to communicate well with their owners.

They are a medium-sized parrot growing to be about 10 to 14 inches in length.  There are two different types of African Grey parrots.  The Congo African Grey is light grey and has a red tail.  The Timneh African Grey is a darker charcoal grey with a maroon tail.  Typically the males are larger then the females.  The males can be 12 to 14 inches in length.  Although the appearances of both sexes are the same, female African Grey parrots normally have a narrower head and a more slender neck.

These parrots need an owner who can make a long term commitment to them.  The African Grey parrot has a long lifespan living up to 60 years.  Because of their high intelligence, African Grey parrots require an owner that is experienced and who can understand their needs.  They can easily become bored, so a stimulating and interactive environment is a must.  Without their intellectual needs met African Greys might turn their boredom into behavioral problems like feather picking. It’s possible that even a small change in their daily routine or in their surroundings can lead an African Grey parrot to become cranky or show signs of self mutilation.  Although they are typically well behaved and a great pet these birds do not come without a few challenges.  African Greys that are undisciplined can get into trouble.  They might chew wires or bite.  They pick up behaviors very quickly so if you inadvertently reinforce bad habits in your African Grey parrot, you can also easily teach them good ones. 

African Grey parrots make great pets because they are very social birds.  In the wild they will typically flock together. They have been known to cuddle with their owners.  Although they don’t like intense physical contact, they do enjoy petting and head-scratching.  Experienced African Grey owners will not be put off by their bird’s strange signs of affections.  Regurgitation for a Grey is a sign of deep affection.  They will also try to “kiss” their owners on the mouth.  This is not recommended because the human mouth contains bacteria that is dangerous to birds.  It is important for their owners to understand these birds’ need for a companionship. African Greys who become lonely may begin to vocalize excessively, pluck their own feathers or they may start to bite.  Because of these tendencies, African Grey parrots may not be good pets for a family who have very small children. Their beaks are strong and hard.  Children may not understand this behavior.  These birds also use their beaks almost as another hand; a way to explore the world. 

African Grey parrots are full of personality and human like qualities.  Those who are lucky enough to own one are able to see intelligence not equaled in many other animals.

 

 

 

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