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Handfed African Grey Parrots





Meet Our Feathered Friend:

Congo African Grey



Common Name: African Grey, Congo African Grey, Grey Parrot

Latin Name: Psittacus Erithacus

Native Region: Africa

Average Lifespan: 60 Years

Average Length: 30cm (12 inches)

Average Weight: 370 to 534 grams

Song Type: Whistle, Mimic, Great Talker, Vocal Communicator

Interaction: Very Social

> The Congo African Grey is the larger of the African Grey subspecies. 
>Often, the Congo Greys were called "Cameroons" because they were once thought to be a subspecies from that area, but in truth, these larger birds were smuggled into Cameroon and had that Country listed on their export papers. 
> African Greys are a powder down bird which means that the feathers closes to their skin produce a white powder. This powder helps keep their feathers soft and silky. This powder produces a high volume of dust and dander.


Common Health Conditions

African Greys are especially susceptible to feather picking, calcium deficiency, vitamin-A and vitamin-D deficiency, respiratory infection, psittacosis and psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD).



African Grey Parrots are more prone to deficiency in vitamin-A/beta-carotene, and therefore benefit from eating vegetables high in beta-carotene, such as cooked sweet potato and fresh kale. Vitamin-D deficiency is another concern, especially for Greys on a poor diet. Offering a balanced, pelleted diet for the main diet with added fresh fruits and vegetables helps prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A Grey that consumes a pelleted diet with additional fresh foods generally does not need vitamin supplements added. African Greys also benefit from a little extra calcium in their diet, so access to a cuttlebone, mineral block, or keeping this in mind when preparing fresh foods is recommended. 



Pet Profile

The African Grey Parrot’s ability to talk and mimic sounds makes this medium-sized parrot a captivating companion. African Grey owners often report that their greys oftentimes talk in context and seem very attuned to their people’s emotions. The African Grey parrot is one of the most talented talking/mimicking birds on the planet, giving it quite a reputation among bird enthusiasts. Not only do bird keepers love this intelligent bird, but it’s also one of the most recognizable species to bird novices as well — everyone knows the African Grey Parrot. This parrot is one of the oldest Psitticine species kept by humans, with records of the bird dating back 4000 years. Understated beauty and a brainy no-nonsense attitude are what keep this parrot at the peak of popularity.

Greys can be shy at times and are very in tune with their surroundings. If there is stress in the environment, they will be stressed, thus making these parrots more content around older and more mature owners rather than young children. It is important to always be as confident as you can when handling Greys. They beak of an African Grey has a bite strength of 300-400 PSI (that’s more PSI than the average Rottweiler). They are capable of causing really nasty wounds that may require medical care. However, Grey biting behaviour has many reasons, and many of them are stoppable with the proper training.

Greys can be very affectionate with their chosen humans, but this will happen in their own way. African Greys are social parrots that need a lot of hands-on time, however, they usually aren’t “cuddlebugs.” They will tolerate some head scratching and a little bit of petting, but they do not usually appreciate intense physical contact. Though some individuals don’t mind a little snuggling as every bird has individual tastes and preferences. A Grey can also become a “one person bird,” even if every member of the household socializes with it from the beginning. Every parrot has their own unique personality and Greys are no exception to that. African Greys need time to form trust and bond with new owners so patience and confidence is key.  These are complex parrots, highly sensitive, and more than a little demanding! They are also charming and brilliant, but this match of sensitivity and brains can lead to behavioral issues. They are creatures of habit, and even a small change in routine can make a sensitive Grey unhappy. They are prone to plucking and chewing their feathers, among other bad habits. African Grey Parrots are a huge commitment in both time and energy!


An African Grey Parrots cage needs to meet the minimum cage requirements of 36" x 24" x 48" with maximum wire spacing of 3/4" to 1”. African Greys are especially affected by stress and commotion in their environment and can be put more at ease by placing one corner of the cage against a wall as opposed to in the middle of a room. Proper toys and perches must be present in the cage. Each cage should have multiple perches with a variety of textures, materials, and diameters to ensure the feet of your African Grey are well exercised and prevent bumblefoot and severe arthritis as your bird ages as well as promote grip strength. African Greys are sensitive and extremely intelligent parrots that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Your cage should have a variety of toys which can include enrichment, shredding, foraging, natural, wooden, metal, and plastic toys. African Greys are extremely intelligent and should have plenty of toys to challenge that intelligence such as puzzles and foraging toys. Providing overhead misters or shallow bowls for bathing are important for an Africans Greys feather health. DO NOT put a mirror or fake bird toy in your cage as these have been shown to do more harm than good. Greys are known to be extremely sensitive to even the most novel things, so use proper care and patience when introducing new items to their cage. We generally recommend housing handfed birds one per cage. If you house multiple handfed birds in the same cage, it is possible for the birds to remain friendly, but this requires a lot more time spent with each bird by their owners. 

​NOTE: Although the minimum cage size requirements are listed above, like with most birds, the more space the better.  Keeping in mind the wire spacing requirements, we suggest acquiring the largest cage your budget and space can afford. 


Noise Level & Talking Ability

There’s a reason why the African Grey is often considered the poster bird for parrot intelligence — not only is this bird inclined to amass a large vocabulary, African Greys also demonstrate an aptitude for recognizing the meaning of words and phrases. Not only will a Grey develop an outstanding vocabulary, and research has shown that this species can come to understand what it’s saying. The most famous CAG (Congo African Grey), named Alex, and his colleague, Dr. Irene Pepperberg, may be the reason for the popularity of this species, and certainly for its high profile. Alex and Dr. Pepperberg worked together for 30 years at Brandeis University until his unfortunate death in 2007. In their three decades of research, Dr. Pepperberg taught Alex to recognize and identify objects, colors, and shapes. Alex could also understand the concepts of same and different, category, and could even count objects. It is no wonder that African Greys have the moniker of “The Einsteins of the Bird World”.

But just because Greys are smart and may choose to talk rather than scream, it’s a mistake to believe that they aren’t noisy. They aren’t as loud or persistent as some of the South American species, but they will learn household sounds and use them tirelessly to the dismay of us mere mortals with human ears. Imagine the microwave beeping incessantly, or a cellphone ringing madly without the luxury of turning it off. African Greys can produce loud, screeching noises and are recommended for people in detached housing.

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