When it comes to picking a species of parrot to keep as a pet, there are many varieties that you can choose. From cockatoos to macaws, parrots make great pets because of their outgoing personality and affectionate nature. And when it comes to keeping an African Grey, you will get all these attributes and more!
Known for their excitable and flamboyant characteristics, African Greys have fast become one of the most quintessential pet parrot species in the world.
Named for their beautiful smoky grey feathers, these striking birds are beloved by parrot keepers across the globe because of their dedication and wit. Oh, and African Greys can talk to!
Okay, we understand that they can’t talk and that it’s just a mimicking technique – but it still makes them a wonderful and unique bird to own.
When you bring your African Grey home for the first time, you may notice the bird exhibiting strange behaviour that could make you concerned. African Greys are highly intelligent birds, but they don’t particularly like change – especially when it comes to their carer or surroundings.
So if your African Grey is acting in bizarre ways, don’t worry because we have compiled together all the important information you need to know.
Why Do African Greys Hang Upside Down?
When owning an African Grey, they may begin to embody odd behaviours that they have never exhibited before. This can include anything from growling in their cage to ruffling their feathers when you wish to scratch their necks.
Some behaviours can mean that your parrot is not comfortable in their environment and that they are ready to lash out at you and your loved ones.
While others mean that your African Grey is perfectly content in their new home and that they are just having fun to keep themselves entertained.
Arguably one of the strangest things that an African Grey can do is hang upside down – which they can do for hours on end. If you often find your African Grey hanging upside down in their cage or from your furniture, then you may be concerned about their physical and emotional health.
However, in this instance, you have nothing to worry about, for if your African Grey is hanging upside down then this is a good thing.
As we have previously mentioned, African Greys are extremely intelligent birds, which means that they often need to be stimulated to remain entertained throughout the day. This is why it is recommended that you get your African Grey plenty of toys and fitness equipment to have in their cage.
If you notice your African Grey hanging upside down, then this most likely means that they are playing and having fun, which in turn means they are happy and content in their surroundings.
What Is Your African Grey Trying To Say?
Although hanging upside down may be normal behaviour for these fascinating creatures, this doesn’t mean that they won’t exhibit other behaviour that is strange for the species.
If you want to own an African Grey or any parrot species, then you need to understand what their body language and behaviour can mean.
Parrots can make wonderful pets, and their strange behaviour and body language can actually help you to determine what your parrot requires to be comfortable in their new home.
Down below we have outlined some positive and negative behaviours that should be kept in mind when you start owning a parrot.
Although some of these behaviours are completely natural, others could stem from your parrot’s discomfort, so you will need to be vigilant to make sure they are happy.
Positive Parrot Behaviours
Cuddling – Cuddling is the simplest way to tell whether your parrot is comfortable in its surroundings and in you as its carer. Parrots in general are very affectionate birds, and if you are able to give them a good cuddle, then this means they have bonded to you in a loving way.
If your parrot spends the day sitting on your shoulder or rubbing against your neck, then you can rest assured knowing that your parrot loves you and is happy.
Preening – Simply put, preening is just a fancy technical term for cleaning. When a parrot preens itself, it is spending its time removing any dirt or harmful parasites from its feathers.
This is a good thing and you should make sure that your parrot is constantly preening themselves throughout the day, otherwise, there could be something wrong.
As an added bonus, parrots only preen themselves when they are comfortable, so if they do it in your presence it means they trust and care for you.
Grooming – In the wild, parrots will often spend their time grooming themselves or their mates. However, in captivity parrots will rarely have a mate to groom, which means they might begin grooming you instead.
If you begin to notice that your parrot is chewing on your hair or nipping at your ear, there’s no need to be concerned. This usually happens because they like you and want to help groom you.
Grooming should not hurt, so if your parrot is biting you with force, this probably means they don’t like you or are uncomfortable in their surroundings.
Flapping Wings – Now we understand that parrots will be constantly flapping their wings when they fly, but if they also flap them when they are sitting in a stationary position then this could mean that they are happy.
Be aware that some parrots flap their wings for exercise or as a sign to get your attention. In the latter case, this can also be good as it shows that the parrot trusts you and knows you can help them.
Bowing – Sometimes a comfortable parrot will demonstrate their happiness by bowing their head to you, which is usually an invitation to give them a scratch and a cuddle.
If your parrot is doing this, then it means it loves you and wants you to comfort it. When you scratch your parrot’s head, it may even utter a slight purring noise, which means it is enjoying the experience.
Negative Parrot Behaviours
Quivering – If you notice that your parrot is quivering across its whole body, then this could signify that it is scared or fearful in its current state. If this quivering is accompanied by heavy breathing and wide eyes, then you may need to remove yourself or locate what is scaring your parrot.
However, if your parrot’s chest is quivering, this could mean that they are content, so you have to make sure you know which one is which!
Growling – If parrots can purr then they can also growl, and parrots have been known to growl in threatening situations. If your parrot growls when you try to play or make contact with it, then this could mean it doesn’t trust you or is scared of you.
Growling could also mean that the parrot is seeing something in the room that is distressing it, which you will have to remove to reduce its stress levels.
Eyes Dilating – Your parrot’s eyes dilating is often considered to be a good sign, as it means they are excited and happy to see you. However, it is also important that we distinguish the difference between happy dilating and angry dilating.
If your parrot’s eyes are dilated and its feathers are puffed out, then you need to be careful because this means the bird is angry and ready to attack.
Flattened Feathers – Sometimes when your parrot is feeling scared or threatened it will signify this by pressing its feathers flat against its body. If you can notice when your parrot is doing this, then you can help to reduce its stress by removing the scary item from the room.
If your parrot exhibits this behaviour when you go to touch it, then this means the parrot is scared of you and that you need to start training it to know you’re its friend.