African Grey Parrots

More Than Just a Pet Bird

African Grey parrot

African Greys are the most sought-after parrots, thanks to their amazing ability to communicate with humans. They are extremely intelligent birds and are known to be the best at mimicking human behavior.

There are two types of African Greys: The Congo African Grey and the Tinmeh Grey. The Congo subspecies is the more common pet bird. African Greys are typically 12 to 13 inches from beak to tail, and thus need adequate living space. If properly cared for, these birds can live to be 50 years old or older. If you’re thinking of owning an African Grey, or if you are new owner, there are some important things you should know.

Caring for Your African Grey

African Grey parrot

Along with the intelligence of the Grey comes an extreme sensitivity. Greys need the special attention that human children require. Experts say that these birds need at least three hours of interaction per day. Greys, like children, need to be put on a schedule; they thrive when following a routine.

It is also very important to note that all Teflon products (including kitchen pans and accessories, and beauty tools) must be removed from the house before a parrot takes up residence. Teflon is deadly toxic to parrots. Once you use a Teflon product, the particles become airborne and then deadly to your pet parrot. Please seek your veterinarian's advice about which kitchen and/or beauty tools you can purchase to replace those with Teflon.

Repeat After Me

Many potential owners love the idea of having a pet bird they can talk to. All African Greys have the ability to speak and imitate all manners of sounds and whistles, including human speech, says Jane Hallander, author of “You and Your African Grey.”


Not only will the birds mimic the words of that special human in their lives, they are also known to take on their emotions.

However, not all Greys speak well or at all. Those that do speak tend to do so after age 1. Experts advise that these birds should not be taken on as pets solely because the human wants the bird to speak. Greys form a special bond with their human owners, Hollander says. They often will bond this way with only one human, and may act shy around other people. Not only will the birds mimic the words of that special human in their lives, they are also known to take on their emotions. If you’re upset, there is a good chance your Grey will be, too.

Diet and Exercise

African Grey parrot

African Greys should eat a mix of formulated feed, fruits, vegetables and protein. For a complete list of what you should and shouldn’t feed your parrot, visit www.africancongogrey.com.  Exercise is key for a caged Grey. These pet birds need a minimum of one to two hours outside their cage each day. Chew toys are also important for your Grey; they provide stimulation and help to exercise his powerful mandible.

Let Your Relationship Soar

African Grey parrots can be wonderful pets. If an owner has the time and patience to put into developing a bond with the bird, it can be among the most rewarding of any human-animal relationship. Greys crave attention and interaction and will look to you, the owner, to provide it. In return, you will receive the companionship of a loyal friend.


If you enjoyed this story, you may also enjoy reading about Amazon parrots and how to care for avians.


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