Parrots are wonderful pets and companions. One of the most popular and common parrots that many people keep are African Grey parrots. These are absolutely beautiful birds with amazing vocabularies of up to 1,000 words or even more!
As such intelligent creatures, it is no surprise that so many people want to have one of these birds for themselves. However, caring for an African Grey parrot can be difficult, and will take a lot of hard work and dedication, so it is best if you know everything about these birds first.
This guide will tell you exactly what an African Grey parrot is, whether they make good pets, and how much care and attention they require. Then, you can make your own decision as to whether this talkative bird is the right one for you!
What is an African Grey?
An African Grey is a type of parrot, known for its ability to become the most captivating companion. These types of parrots are able to talk, but not only repeat phrases, as they can talk in context and seem to understand people’s emotions.
In their natural habitat, the African Grey parrot can be found in coastal mangroves, woodland areas, forest clearings and savannas in Western and Central Africa. However, these birds and their subspecies can be found in the southerneastern Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Kenya and the Congo.
The African Grey parrot is known as one of the most intelligent birds on the planet, and is often referred to as the ‘Einstein of the Bird World’ for its vast abilities and use of language to express itself.
African Grey parrots are highly social creatures that are gray in color, and medium sized. If you are thinking of having an African Grey for yourself, then be aware that they may become a life companion as African Greys can live for more than 30 years!
African Grey parrots of course look gray all over, but with a little close inspection, you may notice that this medium sized bird has a dusty gray color, but with a bright red tail, beautiful colored eyes, and a scalloped sort of pattern on its plumage.
The African Grey parrot is therefore one of the most recognizable creatures by bird enthusiasts and novices alike. This is because of its vast vocabulary and ability to talk, communicate and mimic what others are saying. It is also one of the oldest bird species kept by humans, with evidence that these birds date back biblical times.
With lovable personalities, and a no-nonsense mentality, the African Grey parrot is a popular and fun bird indeed.
Do African Greys make good pets?
African Greys can be the perfect companion, especially for someone who lives alone, or gets lonely. However, they are not easy pets to maintain. Although African Grey parrots are highly intelligent and able to imitate speech and conversations, they are considered very high maintenance.
This is largely due to the fact that African Greys prefer a routine, and to be kept on a schedule. They also require a lot of time and attention from their owners. This is why African Greys are not suitable for certain people.
If you work long hours, different hours, or if you travel a lot and spend time away from home, it will not be a good idea to have an African Grey parrot.
In addition to this, African Grey parrots need a lot of interesting toys to keep them engaged, enriched and happy. They also require a lot of environmental enrichment, and foraging exercises to keep their brains engaged and interested.
If an African Grey does not have this, they are more prone to exhibit behavioral problems. They can also be aggressive towards strangers, and may sometimes bond with just one person in the household, and reject others around them.
However, the African Grey parrot is naturally very curious, and will love to explore their surroundings often. If an African Grey is tamed and trained, then you should not see many behavioral issues, and they can adapt to new surroundings, situations, and are comfortable around other animals.
You just have to keep in mind that they will need to be exposed to the animals and trained from a very young age. Studies show that baby birds that are handled from a young age, and used to owners from youth are more likely to grow up comfortable and without any behavioral problems such as aggression, fearfulness or feather picking.
Do African Greys love their owners?
As mentioned, African Greys are the most intelligent bird in the parrot species. They can grow incredibly sweet and affectionate towards their owners, and can be extremely sociable and fun to be around.
Yes, an African Grey can love its owner, as it will thrive upon spending time with you, and will enjoy being in your company. However, a neglected African Grey can become very bored and unhappy, or even depressed.
This will result in a bird that screeches often, or becomes aggressive. This is why it is vital that you spend time with your African Grey, and give it lots of mental stimulation.
African Greys are also known to bond with one person over others, and pick a favorite. However, this does not mean that they will be aggressive towards other people, just because they are bonded.
In addition, pets often are a product of their environment, and we can create and perpetuate the problem ourselves, so if you do notice that your African Grey is aggressive with others and not you, then this may be an issue that you need to resolve.
How much attention do African Greys need?
African Grey parrots do need a lot of attention in order to be happy, thrive and flourish under your care. As they are such intelligent, and highly sociable creatures, it is recommended that you have a minimum or at least one hour a day of playtime for you and your African Grey.
However this is the bare minimum, and your African Grey may actually need a lot more time in order to be happy. In addition to this, your African Grey needs at least 3 hours of out of cage time, to play, forage and explore.
These creatures are so intelligent, but this also means that they need to use their brains and mental capacity, otherwise they will become bored and depressed.
How smart are African Greys?
African Greys are often considered the most intelligent birds, and rank among the highest in nonhuman animals along with apes and dolphins. Some research suggests that an African Grey has the same mental capacity as a four or five year old human child.
This is because they not only imitate sounds like other birds do, but they can also understand certain phrases, or speak in context. This means that rather than repeating what you say, they understand some situations and will use phrases that are appropriate.
It may surprise you to find that some tests have shown that African Greys are even smarter than dogs. Intelligence tests have conveyed that the parrots are more adept at certain activities, and can respond better to humans than dogs can.
African Greys also have the capacity to use deductive reasoning, which shows that they are able to make correct choices in relation to certain circumstances. For instance, parrots are also able to work together in order to obtain a food reward.
Tests have also shown that parrots are able to associate sound with meaning, and therefore to some extent understand the English language. For instance, animal behaviourist Irene Pepperberg once trained a parrot with positive reinforcement in order to understand and correctly label objects and colors, along with the ability to count from 1-6.
Parrots can also use the phrases that they pick up on in order to communicate or signal something to their owners, or to other animals. These creatures make wonderful pets and are incredibly fun to be around.