African Grey Parrot

Psittacus erithacus

Overview

The African Grey Parrot is a medium sized parrot found in West and Central Africa. They naturally inhabit moist lowland forests, feeding on palm nuts, seeds and fruit. There are two subspecies, the Congo African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) and the Timneh African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh). The Congo African Grey Parrot is the larger of the two, at around 33cm long. They have light grey feathers, red tails and black beaks. The smaller Timneh African Grey Parrot have a darker grey colouring and darker red tail with a light area on the upper mandible. The African Grey can live for a long time, on average 45 years, or longer in captivity. They are a popular bird to keep as a pet due to their high intelligence and ability to mimic speech. They live in large social groups in the wild but are normally kept in pairs of on their own in captivity.

Feeding

In the wild the African Grey Parrot eats a diet of Palm Nuts, seeds and fruit, as well as some green. In captivity a diet similar to this should be fed. A Parrot food with a mixture of seeds and dried fruit should be fed as a base diet. Around 25% of their diet should be fresh fruit and vegetables. Make sure your African Grey has access to fresh, clean water at all times.

You should NOT feed your African Grey avocado as it is potentially toxic to them.

Housing

African Grey Parrots are large birds which need an appropriate amount of space in their cage. An average bird should have 2 times the wingspan in the width of the cage and twice its height for the height of the cage. So as a rough guide it should be a minimum of 75cm wide by 65cm tall. If you are keeping a pair increase the size by at least 50%.

Essential Accessories

African Grey Parrots are very intelligent birds and so a wide variety of toys and things to keep them entertained is a must. There are a large variety available from cotton hoops to hanging wooden blocks and bells. Select something which is of a suitable size for your parrot and will be robust enough to last! Replace toys when they become worm and to offer variety to the parrot. A perch which is the correct size will be needed – the birds feet should rest on the top half of the perch and not wrap all the way round. Most cages have a built in feeding bowl which will be stainless steel. Water can be provided in a earthewear or stainless steel bowl.

Handling

Before handling the bird check that doors and windows are closed and any other possible escape routes are closed off. You should move slowly and not make too much noise so that the bird is not startled. Remove perches and food bowls from the cage a drive the parrot into the corner of the cage. Gently grasp the bird with two hands around the wings, being careful not to injur the bird.

Sexing

There are two things to look for when sexing African Greys. Firstly look at the the tail coverts (feathers under the tail). These appear solid red, sometimes with a white hairline on males, and will be red with grey edges on females. The other thing to look at is the bands of feathers on the underside of the wing. In males the three bands will be coloured grey, grey, and dark grey. On females they will be coloured grey, then white, then dark grey.

Health

An African Grey Parrot should have its condition checked daily to ensure it is in good health. You should look for signs including: the bird should be bright and alert; no discharge from the eyes or nostril; clean vent area; healthy feathers which are flush to the body and not fluffed up; regular breathing; good movement; a healthy beak which interlocks correctly; the joint of the beak and cere should be free from crust caused by mites; and the bird should be behaving as normal and not huddled up on the floor or perch.

Cage Maintanence

To keep your parrot happy and healthy you should ensure it has a suitably clean environment to live in. Daily tasks include spot cleaning the floor and perches and removing and cleaning food and water bowls. Once a week the cage should be cleaned and disinfected, including removing and cleaning perches and toys.

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