There are two "officially" subspecies of African Congo Grey Parrots:
The first one is the Congo African Grey parrot, ''Psittacus erithacus
erithacus'' - these are larger birds (about 12 inches long) with light grey
feathers, deep red tails and black beaks.
The second is the Timneh African Grey parrot, ''Psittacus erithacus timneh''
- these are smaller in size, have a
darker charcoal gray coloring, a darker maroon tail, and a light, horn
colored upper mandible.
The history of African Grey parrots kept as pets dates back over 4,000
years. Some Egyptian hieroglyphics clearly depict pet parrots. The ancient
Greeks also valued parrots as pets, and this custom was later adopted by the
Wealthy Roman families often kept parrots in ornate bird cages, and parrots
were prized for their ability to talk.
King Henry VIII of England also had an African Grey. The Portuguese sailors
kept them as companions on their long sea voyages today, many African Grey
parrots are hand reared by breeders for the pet trade and they make
wonderful and very affectionate companion parrots; however, because they can
be unpredictable at times, they may not be compatible with small children.
African Grey parrots are very strong and they can bite with their strong
pointed beak and scratch with their claws. African Grey parrots have a high
intelligence and they are generally thought to be the best mimics of all
parrots. Pet owners often refer to their relationship with their hand reared
pet African Greys as being "like having a five-year-old child".
On the other hand, wild African Grey parrots captured from the wild need
time and effort to adapt to human presence, and have a tendency to growl and
bite when they are approached. The Convention on the International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES) has made the sale of all wild caught parrot
African Grey parrots, like any pet parrot, can require a large commitment as
they require a lot of attention. While numbers vary with each source, most
agree that three hours out of cage daily and 45 minutes of physical
interaction is the minimum attention required for good mental health.
African Greys particularly Congo African Greys are known to be shy amongst
strangers. African Greys have the tendency to bond to only one person if
they do not interact with different people regularly. While inter-species
friendships with other parrots are uncommon with African Greys, they require
socialization with other parrots of any species.
African Greys require a lot of stimulating toys due to their high
intelligence and to avoid boredom. Three to five toys at a time are
typically enough to satisfy African Greys, but too many toys can crowd the
cage. Toys should be rotated and switched regularly to keep the stimulation
constant and diverse. For an African Grey spending most of its day in the
cage, 36"W x 24"D is a good bird cage size. The height of a congo
grey cages are typically not important, except in the case of playtop cages
that are taller than the owner, in which case the bird can become
territorial. An African Grey who spends most of its time on a playstand and
uses the cage solely for sleeping only needs a cage large enough so that the
bird's wingspan doesn't touch the cage's sides and its head and tail do not
touch the cage's top and bottom respectively. The bar-spacing should be 1/2
inch to 1 inch. A companion African Grey should be kept in a bird-safe
environment and placed in a busy part of the home, such as the living room,
where the bird can occupy himself (or herself) in watching the household
The African Grey
Parrot have special dietary requirements and should be fed with
calcium and Vitamin A rich foods such as leafy greens like mustard greens,
broccoli etc., almonds or little amount of cheese. It is usual to give
African grey parrots carefully calculated quantities of calcium and vitamin
supplements. An excess of these added vitamins and minerals in an African
Greys diet can lead to health problems. Only a few feathers should be
clipped from the wings of an African Grey since they are heavy birds.
Clipping too many of the Grey's feathers can severely impair flight and may
lead to injuries as they may have a tendency to crash to the ground. If very
young birds are wing clipped they may never gain full coordination and
agility in flight. African Grey parrots' lifespans are upto about 50 years
(or more) in captivity.
Read these books to find out more:
- "The Grey Parrot"" by Wolfgang de Grahl, T.F.H. Publications, 5th edition, 1987
- "African Gray Parrots" by Annette Wolter, Barron's, First English edition, 1987
- "African Grey Parrots" by Paul R. Paradise, T.F.H. Publications, 1979
- "Guide to a Well-behaved Parrot" by Mattie Sue Athan, Barron's, 1993
- "Parrots of the World" by Joseph M. Forshaw, T.F.H. Publications, 1973
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