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African Grey Parrots


African Grey Parrots

This Timneh African Grey is an example of one of the two most common sub-species of Psittacus erithacus. Photo (c) 2005 Alyson Burgess licensed to About.com, Inc.

Common Names:

African Grey Parrot, Congo African Grey, Timneh African Grey, CAG, TAG

Scientific Name:

Psittacus erithacus erithacus (Congo Grey) and Psittacus erithacus timneh (Timneh Grey).




Approximately 12 to 13 inches from beak to tail. The African Grey is considered a large bird and as such must be provided with adequate living space.

Average Lifespan:

African Greys, when properly cared for, typically live to be around age 50. There are, however, individuals that live long past this time, some even closing in on 75!


African Greys are extremely intelligent birds, a fact which becomes evident upon observing their behavior. Many grow to be extremely sweet and affectionate toward their owners, and the species is known for being rather sociable. A bored or neglected African Grey, however, is often not a very happy bird, and will not hesitate to air its grievances when given the opportunity.


The African Grey, true to it's name, sports mostly grey feathers, some with a beautiful thin white edging. Congo African Greys boast shiny black beaks and bright red tail feathers, while the Tinmeh Greys have bone colored mandibles and tailfeathers of deep maroon.


As with most exotic bird species, a meal consisting of fresh vegetables and tropical fruits, supplemented with a quality pelleted diet is best for the African Grey. Many Greys also enjoy a variety of treats and snacks such a seeds, nuts, eggs, and small bits of cheese.


Adequate amounts of exercise are imperative to the good health of a captive African Grey. Pet Greys should be allowed to spend a minimum of one to two hours out of their cages daily, and should be provided with plenty of bird safe chew toys to facilitate exercising their powerful mandibles.

African Greys as Pets:

African Grey parrots have been kept as pets for many thousands of years. Their fascinating ability to reason and talent for clearly mimicking human speech has helped to catapult them to stardom both in the field of research and in the pet trade.

Captive African Greys typically pick up on words and sounds very quickly, with owners reporting birds that mimic the sounds of telephones, microwaves, and even other pets like dogs and cats. One African Grey has even been credited with "blowing the whistle" on a woman's love affair by repeatedly calling out the other man's name in front of her husband -- using the cheating wife's voice! Much like small toddlers, African Greys have a reputation for repeating everything they hear, so it's no wonder that many Grey owners are careful to watch their mouths around their pets!

While the African Grey is perhaps one of the most intelligent parrot species, their high IQ's mean that they require more time from their owners than some smaller birds. They thrive when put on meticulous schedules and don't generally like to deviate much from their daily routine. Properly cared for Greys often bond strongly to their owners, and become affectionate and captivating pets.

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