African Gray Parrots
African GrayAfrican GrayAfrican Gray
What should you expect from your African grey parrot?

African grey parrots are extremely intelligent and alert; some may be high-strung. It is best to acquire these birds at a young age, because wild-caught individuals have objectionable personalities and vocalizations. Selective breeding for calmness is being initiated by some aviculturists. There is a tendency for African greys to form a bond with an individual family member and become aggressive toward others, especially during the breeding season. African grey parrots are considered to be one of the five top companion bird species for potential mimicking. This mimicking ability can include sounds like dripping water, flushing toilets, squeaky doors, coughs or sneezes of family members, and answering machines.

What do African greys do all day?

Because of their high intelligence, African greys are easily bored and require attention. They are relatively playful and can be amused with some toys. Because they love to chew, all toys must be free of toxic metals, hooks, sharp objects or small, easily consumed components. Providing chew toys or fresh cut branches from nontoxic, pesticide free trees is encouraged for African greys. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations on locally available safe trees. Be aware that African greys are very curious and will investigate anything new in their environment.

How tame are African greys?

Young, hand-raised African greys adapt readily to new surroundings and handling procedures. They should be exposed early in life to novel situations (car travel, veterinarian visits, multiple visitors in the household, and other household pets) so that they are well adjusted to these events. Adult birds are less inclined to accept environmental changes and may feather pick. Patience, discipline, leadership, hooding (covering the head), a sense of ritual and the offering of rewards may be necessary to modify the behavior of adult African greys.

Why should the wings be clipped?

African greys that are allowed unrestricted freedom in the home can encounter numerous physical dangers or toxins; therefore, wing clipping is recommended. The goal of clipping the wings is not to make the bird incapable of flight, but to prevent it from developing rapid or sustained flight and to prevent escape. Because African greys are particularly heavy-bodied birds, falls from over trimmed wings may result in severe damage to the chest.

How can you keep your African grey healthy, happy, and safe?

  • Give lots of attention.
  • Feed a fresh, high quality, toxin-free pelleted diet with daily supplementation of chopped vegetables and fruit.
  • Do not feed grit, as it is not necessary with modern captive diets.
  • Provide clean, fresh, uncontaminated water.
  • Remove and replace food and water containers twice daily to maximize activity.
  • Provide an occasional opportunity for bath, shower or misting (at least weekly).
  • Avoid spraying house with insecticides.

Housing for your African grey parrot should:
  • Be clean, secure, safe, and easy to service.
  • Be constructed of durable, nontoxic material.
  • Contain variable-sized perches made of clean, nontoxic, pesticide-free tree branches.
  • Have food and water containers placed on opposite ends of the enclosure.
  • Avoid having perches located directly over food containers.
  • Offer occasional opportunity for protected outdoor exposure to fresh air, sunlight, and exercise.

Things you must keep away from your African grey:
  • Ceiling fans
  • Hot cooking oil
  • Teflon coated items (overheated)
  • Leg chains
  • Sandpaper-covered perches
  • Tobacco and cigarette smoke
  • Chocolate, avocado, salt, alcohol
  • Toxic houseplants
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic fumes
  • Easily dismantled toys
  • Dogs, cats, and young children
  • Cedar, redwood, and pressure treated wood shavings
  • Sources of lead or zinc
  • Plug in air fresheners

For more information visit: Association of Avian Veterinarians, Good Bird, Inc.