African Grey

AFRICAN GREY PARROT

The African Grey Parrot, Psittacus erithacus erithacus, is about 33cm (13 inches) when adult size. Their weight is between 450 and 550 grams. African Greys have a very simple color scheme: but this varies in shade from region to region and males are usually darker than females. The feathers of the head and neck are margined with very pale grey. And their rump is such a pale color of grey that almost white. The tail and adjacent tail coverts are scarlet. The beak is black and the iris is pale yellow.  On rare occasions you will find an African Grey that has some or even alot of red within its gray feathering.  This is a coloring that the parent birds will sometimes through.  It is natural in some of the birds, and most often will grow out within 1-2 years.  Although I had a breeding pair that had alot of red and were about 25plus years old. They would give me babies with the red feathering that never grew out.  
Immature birds will look the same except babies will always have jet black eyes.

HABITAT:

The grey inhabits equatorial Africa from the south-eastern part of the Ivory Coast to western Kenya and northern Angola, the Congo and north-western Tanzania. Lowland forest is the major habitat of Grey Parrots. They are common in some areas and are even extending their range in eastern Africa, but in other areas they are decreasing due to habitat destruction. They are wary in their natural habitat and will seldom allow a close approach.


NOISE:

The African grey is very well known for being the best talking parrot that you can buy, and has no rival among parrots. Not only will they acquire an extensive vocabulary of words, but they can also reproduce them with total accuracy of tone so well that you can’t tell the difference from the real thing. Their mimic ability is uncanny, learning to imitate every sound around them (such as even a squeaky door). Many Greys will also whistle beautiful songs that you may teach them.


SOCIAL HABITS:

An African grey is probably one of the most cherished pets among their owners. They are one of the most perceptive and intelligent bird, but yet they are also sensitive. Their intelligence is a constant source of wonder and will only thrive with the time spent with them. They are quite commonly a one person bird-but will be the love of their life. When choosing toys, there are 2 that I know they particularly love.  A boing toy (which is a rope that  is spiraled, or any type of spiraled toy) and they also love chains that hang down that they can hanging upside down from.

CAGES:

African Greys need a roomy cage. 32" x 24" would be a good size and they will make good use of the space provide, although Greys don't usually use the bottom part of a cage.  So a cage this is tall from floor to top isn't always the better choice.  They will mostly use the cage space that is from the perch and above.  But getting a cage that is as wide as possible and as deep as possible would give them their best needed space. That way you have lots of room to hang those toys, and swings that they love to hang on. Remember, with these highly intelligent creatures, you need to be sure to give them lots of stimulating toys. Rotating them weekly would be excellent. They are not hard on a cage, but a good quality powder-coated cage would be excellent. Suitable bar spacing would be 3/4 inch to 1 inch. Be sure that it is a heavy bar cage.

DIET INFORMATION

The best diet for any parrot such as the grey would be pellets  and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Greys are not fussy eaters and are fond of sunflower seeds, but be sure not to give them but 1 or 2 a day or they will try to convince you that they can’t live life without them. With a good pellet diet, additional vitamins are not necessary except maybe spirulina.  Spirulina will enhance the color on your Parrot, plus it is very healthy. There are a lot of mixes on the market today which will broadened a vegetable and fruit diet. Seed should be fed only in small portions by hand, maybe when doing trick training or “good-bird” offerings.  Take advance of many of the excellent pre-packed foods that are now on the bird market.  Goldenfeast is most excellent, but there is also Crazy Corn and others. This ensures that your bird will get excellent nutrition even when you are too tired to cook. 
 A must with any parrot is a water bottle system. This will provide fresh, clean water to your bird at all times, even when you aren’t home for a couple of days.

MATURING:

They will usually reach maturity between 2 and 4 years of age.

BREEDING:

Be sure that you have unrelated birds if you decide to breed. They can only be sexed either by blood DNA sexing or surgically by a qualified vet and also when mature they can sometimes be sexed by the color grey that their feathers are. A nest box in the shape of an “L’ works excellent with and an ABS plastic nest box should be considered since it is black and they like their nest dark. With an "L" box they will go down to the dark bottom and it makes them feel secure.  If you happen to have pets that become breeders, don't be too surprised if they begin to hide in their nest box, and away from sight.  This hiding doesn't mean they are breeding, it is just what they do.  African Greys to my knowledge are never aggressive in a breeding situation. A female will lay 3-4 eggs about 2-3 days apart, and quite commonly will hatch all of them. They generally will make very good parents and will easily raise their babies to 2-3 weeks at which time, they should be pulled for hand feeding. African Greys that are not hand feed do not make good pets, so be sure to pull they entire clutch before the oldest one has it's eyes open.  They open their eyes at about 12 days and remember that the eggs will probably hatch 2 days apart, so you will have a variety of age differences within that clutch. If you don't pull them before they open their eyes they will not eat well for you and will growl at you and are very hard to work with.  The eggs are usually incubated for 28-30 days.

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