The African grey parrot is the largest parrot in Africa.
Of all of the talking parrots, the African grey parrot is one of the maximum amazing. Its intelligence is such that it now no longer most effective talks but understands what it’s hearing and what it’s pronouncing back. Unfortunately, this parrot is in such call for as a puppy that it’s miles endangered in the wild.
African Grey Parrot Facts!
- An estimated 21 percent of African grey parrots are collected for the pet trade every year, and 60 to 66 percent do not live to become someone’s pet. This is one reason why the bird’s conservation status is endangered.
- Biologists believed that the Timneh parrot was a subspecies of the African grey parrot, but it’s now considered its own species. Like the grey, the Timneh is a popular pet.
- Pet grey parrots have their favorite music. When their favorite song comes on, they dance and sing along to it.
- Right-footed parrots seem to know and use more words than left-footed parrots
The grey parrot is native to equatorial Africa, including Angola, Cameroon, the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. The species is found inside a range from Kenya to the eastern part of the Ivory Coast. Current estimates for the global population are uncertain and range from 630,000 to 13 million birds. Populations are decreasing worldwide. The species seems to favor dense forests, but can also be found at forest edges and in more open vegetation types, such as gallery and savanna forests.
A population study published in 2015 found that the species had been “virtually eliminated” from Ghana with numbers declining 90 to 99% since 1992. They were found in only 10 of 42 forested areas, and three roosts that once held 700–1200 birds each, now had only 18 in total. Local people mainly blamed the pet trade and the felling of timber for the decline. Populations are thought to be stable in Cameroon. In the Congo, an estimated 15,000 are taken every year for the pet trade, from the eastern part of the country, although the annual quota is stated to be 5,000.
Grey parrots have escaped or been deliberately released into Florida, U.S., but no evidence indicates that the population is breeding naturally.
African Grey Parrot Nests
African grey parrots nest in tree cavities. Some of these cavities were once home to other birds, and if the hole is a bit too small, the parrot will use its powerful beak to enlarge it. Each parrot pair has its tree. Pet parrots use a nesting box that’s installed in a high area of their enclosure. This mimics, somewhat, the height of a tree.
The African grey parrot’s scientific name is Psittacus erithacus. Psittacus is simply Latin for “parrot.” Erithacus is an ancient Greek word and seems to refer to a bird such as the European robin. While Erithacus is the epithet for the African grey parrot, it is the genus name for the European robin, Erithacus rubecula. There is now only one species of P. erithacus.
The grey parrot is a medium-sized, predominantly grey, black-billed parrot. Its typical weight is 400 g (14 oz), with an approximate length of 33 cm (13 in), and a wingspan of 46–52 cm (18–20+1⁄2 in). The grey colour on the head and wings is generally darker than its body. The head and body feathers have slight white edges. The tail feathers are red.
Due to selection by parrot breeders, some grey parrots are partly or completely red. Both sexes appear similar. The colouration of juveniles is similar to that of adults, but typically their eyes are dark grey to black, in comparison to the yellow irises around dark pupils of the adult birds, and their undertail coverts are tinged with grey. Adults weigh 418–526 g (14+3⁄4–18+1⁄2 oz).
Grey parrots may live for 40–60 years in captivity, although their mean lifespan in the wild appears to be shorter—approximately 23 years. They start breeding at an age of 3–5 years and lay 3-5 eggs per brood.
Little is known about the behaviours and activities of these birds in the wild. In addition to a lack of research funding, it can be particularly difficult to study these birds in wild situations due to their status as prey animals, which leads them to have rather secretive personalities. It has been shown that wild greys may also imitate a wide variety of sounds they hear, much like their captive relatives. Two greys were recorded while roosting in Zaire and researchers reported that they had a repertoire of over 200 different sounds, including nine imitations of other wild bird songs and one of a bat.
African grey parrots are very gregarious birds, which is why they are rather high-maintenance pets. Their intelligence demands mental stimulation, either from their owner or ideally, another grey parrot or two. Though they are difficult to study in the wild, even wild birds are excellent mimics of other birds.
Though each parrot family has its tree to nest in, they congregate in huge flocks to roost in trees. Unlike other parrots, their flocks do not contain other species of parrots.
They are quiet during the night, then at dawn, they use vocalizations to warn of danger, beg for food, and identify each other. It might sound like a lot of screaming to humans, but the vocalizations are complex and have to be learned by juveniles.
Because they need to learn a great deal about how to be a grey parrot, juveniles can stay with their families for years. During these years, grey parrots need to learn how to find food and water, how to defend their territory, and how to identify potential predators and avoid them. They also need to learn how to establish and defend their nesting sites and raise chicks. This leads to grey parrots becoming quite aggressive with each other when it comes to finding nest holes. On the other hand, grey parrots can be altruistic and share food with other grey parrots.
Scientists believe that the African grey parrot is not just one of nature’s most intelligent birds, but one of nature’s most intelligent animals. They have insight, can perform complex tasks, understand musical theory to some extent and solve complex problems. A famous grey talking parrot named Alex could categorize, ask for, identify and refuse dozens of objects. He not only mimicked human speech but clearly understood it. He died in 2007 at age only 31, of an apparent heart attack.
African Grey Parrot Migration Pattern and Timing
African grey parrots don’t exactly migrate though during the dry season they move in flocks from the driest areas to places where there’s more water and food.
They mainly eat fruit as most of their diet consists of fruits, nuts and seeds. This species prefers oil palm fruit and it eats flowers and bark, as well as insects and snails. In the wild, gray parrots are partly terrestrial. In captivity, they can be fed to birds with pellets, a variety of fruits such as pears, oranges, pomegranates, apples and bananas, and vegetables such as carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, celery, and kale. fresh, peas and green beans. They also need a source of calcium.
If they do eat in a tree, the parrot climbs, not flies, from branch to branch.
Pet parrot renovation consists of a well-balanced weight loss program made of a few seeds, a few nuts, fruits, and vegetables, consisting of leafy greens. Parrots shouldn’t be fed avocados due to the fact they’re poisonous and need to usually have sparkling water available. Ideally, pellets formulated for African grey parrots need to be the predominant a part of their weight loss program.
Predators and Threats
This talking parrot finds safety in numbers in the wild, but it does have predators and threats. The worst of these predators is humans. Humans destroy the birds’ habitat, hunt them for traditional medicine and food and collect them for the pet trade, even though most birds die before they find a loving home.
One major natural predator of the parrot is the palm nut vulture, a small Old World vulture with striking black and white plumage. It is one of a few birds of prey that take grey parrots. Monkeys also steal parrot eggs and chicks, as do tree-climbing snakes. One way that parrots deter predators is to go silent when they see one, then all of a sudden erupt from the trees, screaming. This is sometimes enough to spook a predator.
Besides predators, parrots are subject to a variety of diseases, including blood parasites and tapeworms. Young parrots can succumb to a virus that causes psittacine beak and feather disease. In captivity, parrots can be stricken with infections and cancers. Obesity and malnutrition are also risks if the parrot doesn’t receive excellent care.
Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
The reproductive strategies of the grey parrot haven’t been studied extensively, but scientists do know that they mate for life after a courtship dance where they both droop their wings. The birds breed one or two times a year.
The female lays from three to five eggs in the tree cavity and incubates them while the male feeds her from the outside. The eggs, which are laid at two to five-day intervals, hatch after 30 days. Both parents take care of the babies, who are born blind and helpless. African grey parrot chicks take a long time to reach independence for a bird, even though they fledge when they’re about 12 weeks old. It can be three years before they have learned enough to be independent and another two years before they are reproductively mature. The lifespan of a wild parrot is about 23 years on average, while they can live 60 years or more in captivity.
The population of African gray parrots is estimated to be between 630,000 to 13 million, but the bird is under pressure because of habitat destruction and collection for the pet trade.
Humans are by far the largest threat to wild grey populations. Between 1994 and 2003, more than 359,000 grey parrots were traded on the international market. Approximately 21% of the wild population was being harvested every year. Mortality rates are extremely high between the time they are captured and they reach the market, ranging from 60 to 66%. This species also is hunted for its meat and for its body parts, which are used in traditional medicines. As a result of the extensive harvest of wild birds, in addition to habitat loss, this species is believed to be undergoing a rapid decline in the wild and therefore, has been rated as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In October 2016, the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Fauna and Flora (CITES) extended the highest level of protection to grey parrots by listing the species under Appendix 1, which regulates international trade in the species.
In 2021, the Kenyan government held a short amnesty, during which grey parrot owners could pay a fee to obtain a permit for their birds and facilitate legal ownership. Following the expiry of this time period, it is now illegal to own this species without a permit.