17 Amazing Things That an African Grey Can Do

  • Time to read: 9 min.

The African Grey Parrot can be considered a legend in the parrot kingdom. This bird is native to Africa and is likely to be found in rainforests. The African Grey can be an excellent choice for those looking for a feathery pet. 

There are many interesting facts about African Grey. Some are unique to it only, while others share parrots’ characteristics. From its high intelligence levels to solving mysteries, the African Grey is in a class of its own.

This article will examine this bird’s excellent and exciting characteristics and facts. 

The African Grey is a fantastic parrot for its unique characteristics and abilities. These birds sleep with one open, are monogamous, live very long, have strong talking skills, solve mysteries, are picky, and practice bi-parental care.

What Can African Grey Do?

  1. Highly Social

Parrots are social birds. That’s why some owners pick them as companion parrots. The African Grey is highly social. This bird roosts in large groups, breaking into smaller flocks during the day in search of food. (Source)

In The Wild

At night, these birds roost on treetops. During the day, in the wild, they can be seen flying noisily in the sky in flocks. With the aid of their strong beak, they tear foods such as cola plant berries and nuts of oil palm plants. They are known to raid maize and other human crops. (Source)

At Home

The African Grey will need a lot of quality time as a pet. It will include playing with and talking to its owner. Learning basic tricks and learning how to talk will stimulate the bird. Its enclosure should also contain chewable objects, perches, and puzzles. You should also rotate toys to avoid boredom.

  1. Shy And Secretive

When one hears shy and secretive, it’s almost as if the African Grey were a teenager in another life. For social birds, it’s almost contradictory that they would exhibit such behavior. Not much is known of their behaviors in the wild. Their prey status has them in hiding, making it difficult to study them. (Source)

Unfortunately, these birds are shy and secretive because of their adverse interaction with the human race. The illegal trade of these birds has resulted in their fear and distrust of humans. It is more sad than impressive but still a fact more people should know. African greys go through this unfortunate plight because of their looks and intelligence. (Source

More people want to have them as pets which have increased levels of illegal trade. The trade results in the death of some birds while in transit and others are frequently rehomed. 

  1. Listen To Music

The joy of good music goes beyond human beings, as some sweet-sounding music can entertain birds. However, like humans, these birds are not impressed by any music. Some enjoy pop tunes, and others want classical works. Dance music, however, is not their forte. (Source)

Scientists discovered in a 2012 research how different African greys have individual music preferences. The test consisted of two birds. Once they had a chance to pick two different types of music, they kept choosing other songs that they danced to and sang along. (Source)

Both of the birds also found folk music and rock enjoyable. They bobbed their legs and heads, a form of dancing to the tunes. Electronic music, however, made both birds distressed. 

  1. Mate For Life

African Greys start searching for mates when they are three to five years old. The pair of greys will find an already existing tree cavity and make their nest. The females incubate the eggs, which are about three or four. A remarkable fact is that these parrots are monogamous and mate for the rest of their life. (Source)

  1. Long Lifespan

Parrots are known for their long lives. It is why parrot owners should take careful consideration before making a purchase. Having these birds in one’s home is a long-term commitment. The African Grey is no different. The average lifespan of birds in the wild is 23 years (Source).

The lifespan of parrots, however, is significantly shorter than those in captivity. No surprise there, considering the risk these birds face in the jungle. Other than the risk of poachers, illegal traders, and other prey animals, they are at higher risk of contracting diseases. 

In captivity, their average lifespan ranges from 40-60 years. These birds can live longer than 60 years with proper health and care. It means that some outlive their owners. One way to ensure the parrot brought home is healthy Is by purchasing them from reputable dealers. (Source)

Nutrition And Exercise

Just like human beings, African greys require proper nutrition. Owners should therefore feed their pets to the best of their abilities. Foods that contain high fat and salt should be limited. Birds will pick these over others because they are tasty, which will cause them to gain weight. You should consult a veterinarian to provide the best food for the bids. (Source)

Winged birds can fly and move around. Hence, you should provide adequate space for these birds to explore. Their cages should also allow them to hop and hang. Toys and perches will also enable them to stay active.

  1. Strong Talking Abilities

African greys are known for having extraordinary talking abilities. Captive and wild birds can learn a myriad of sounds and words. The cognitive abilities of African greys are advanced. The Timneh parrot and congo parrot are species of African grey that are common as pets. (Source)

  1. Comprehend The Words They Speak

It’s one thing for birds to mimic speech; it’s a whole other thing when they can understand what they say. It’s safe to say that African greys are brainiacs (in the bird world, of course). Many say they have the intelligence of a three or four-year-old human child. (Source)

Other sources say these birds have the cognitive ability of a four to six-year-old. Experiments have also shown that greys are capable of learning number sequences. Also, they can associate the faces of the humans who spoke particular words. They can also use the words they know to create new object labels. (Source)

According to research, these birds also can categorize, quantify, refuse and request. They are also able to answer questions about shape and color.

  1. Ingest Clay And Soil

Amazon greys primarily feed on nuts and fruits, making them herbivores. Every once in a while, they may feed on insects and snails. When it comes down to it, these birds can ingest soil and clay. It is the length that these birds go to when in search of nutrients. It also assists in absorbing toxins from their body. (Source)

  1. Travel Long Distances

When in the wild, these birds can fly for 10 km in a day. Their light and strong hollow bones, together with their light feathers, make this possible. They cover long distances enjoying the luscious setting of the African forest. (Source)

  1. Practise Monogamy

A large number of birds are monogamous. But monogamy differs from mating for the rest of their life. The pairs may change after nesting or last a single breeding season. The African grey, however, is unique in that it is monogamous and mates for life. The same applies to birds such as swans, geese, and cranes. (Source)

Polygamy is equally widespread in the bird kingdom. The degree that which a bird is polygamous, however, does vary. Some male birds have multiple female partners when it’s nesting time. In some cases, female species have multiple male partners. So much so that some broods don’t have the same fathers. (Source)

Polygamy mainly occurs when birds try to increase the chances of offspring survival. It is highly likely when nesting conditions are harsh.

  1. Bi-Parental Care

Other than being loyal, African greys stick around for parenting responsibilities. Both parents care for the chicks; it is bi-parental care. They also groom each other. They also regurgitate food so the young ones can eat it. (Source)

Juvenile greys have a lot to learn when they are young. They can stick around their families for a couple of years. During this time, they know how to fend for themselves through finding water and food, identifying possible predators, and defending their territory. (Source)

  1. Form Strong Bonds

Parrots are great companion pets. African greys, in particular, form a powerful bond with their owners. It is excellent as they can help beat the loneliness in one’s home. Unfortunately, the bond can make them emotionally needy. (Source)

 They will want attention and to spend time with their owners. Owners who can devote ample time to them are the best suited to care for them.  

  1. Solve Mysteries

Because of their intelligent nature, African greys are famous for helping solve several mysteries. In one scenario, an African grey called Yousuke got lost. When caught by authorities, it kept repeating its name. a few days later, the parrot vocalized his address. It is how the bird reunites with its owner. (Source)

  1. Find Safety In Numbers

While in the wild, these birds ensure they are safe by staying in flocks. While they face predators, they have a more significant chance of surviving or steering clear of danger when together. Some of their predators include vultures, snakes, and humans. (Source)

The flocks understand each other and can warn others when they see a predator. Another way they protect themselves is by staying silent when they see predators and then suddenly erupt from trees, screaming. It tends to scare off predators.

  1. Sleep With One Eye Open

Other than being able to fly, birds’ other enviable ability is sleeping with one eye closed and the other open. A half of their brain is asleep while the other half is asleep. This phenomenon is known as unihemispheric slow-wave sleep. (Source)

It helps birds detect predators who are approaching while getting the much-needed sleep. While they can shut both eyes, they can choose to keep one eye open, according to behavioral neurophysiologist Niles Rattenborg.

  1. Nest In Very Tall Trees

African greys prefer to nest in trees over 30 feet tall. They ensure such holes have suitable hiding spaces. Trunks with holes tend to be their go-to spots. Sometimes they displace smaller birds such as the woodpecker.

  1. Are Picky Birds

When it’s time to make babies, these birds don’t want to share their trees. They spend their time in these trees while the males go out searching for food. Once the eggs hatch, the hatchlings stay in trees for about three months. During this time, they learn how to fly and grow feathers. Both parents take turns protecting, feeding, and teaching necessary survival skills. (Source)

Conclusion

African grey parrots are, without a doubt, fascinating parrots. These birds can mimic music, words, and phrases and understand them. They have been in existence for a very long time, and some records date back to biblical times. People seeking to get a parrot will find that having an African grey will ensure that there is never a dull day.

These birds should, however, should be bought from reputable dealers. The illegal pet trade and deforestation continue to threaten their existence. Having these birds become extinct would be unfortunate. Pet owners should be sure to do their due diligence.

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