Size: Medium Personality: Intelligent, Shy Lifespan: 40-60-years Care & Maintenance: High
Common Species

African Grey (Psittacus Erithacus),
Timneh or Maroon Tail Grey (Psittacus erithacus Timneh).


African greys are native to western and central Africa.

Beautifully Clever Birds

As one of the most talented talking and mimicking birds on the planet, the African Grey parrot has been called the perfect mix of brains and beauty. Not only are they well known for their talking ability, but they are also extremely intelligent. Studies have shown that African Greys have the intellectual capacity of a 5-year-old human child with the emotional development of a 2-year-old. So, it’s no wonder then that African Greys are known as “the Einstein of the Bird World”.

There is one species of African Grey (Psittacus erithacus) with one recognized subspecies, the Timneh or Maroon Tail Grey (Psittacus erithacus Timneh) also known as (Psittacus timneh).

African greys are long lived birds, they have an average lifespan of 40 to 50 years although they can live longer.

Health Booklet

Keeping track of bird health by recording their growth, development, behavior and environment in a booklet can help ensure that your companion parrot will be healthy and happy for many years to come.

Physical Description

African greys are medium sized parrots. They measure from 28-33 cm (11 to 13 inches) in length. The Congo African Grey is larger than the Timneh and has a red tail while the Timneh has a maroon-coloured tail. The Timneh is usually a bit darker grey colour than the Congo and the upper mandible of the Timneh is horn coloured (rather than the black of a Congo’s beak).  

Congo African Grey
Timneh African Grey

In captivity, the Timneh and the Congo will sometimes cross breed resulting in variation in the color and size. African greys have a protective powder that covers their feathers. This powder results in the grey giving off dust and can be a problem for people with allergies.


DNA Testing is a reliable and safe way to determine the sex of African Grey parrots. This procedure can be performed by an avian veterinarian or qualified avian specialist.

It may be difficult to physically determine the sex on an African grey, however it is feasible. One of the visible indicators is the wing length in relation to the tail. Male wings fall short of the tail, while female’s wing tips will normally fall a bit beyond the tip of the tail. Other physical attributes to distinguish the sex of an adult Congo involves the color of the under-tail coverts. Females will have a gray or white edging on the under-tail coverts while a male’s under-tail coverts are all red.

Personality Traits & Behaviours

African greys are extremely intelligent birds. They tend to be somewhat quiet and reserved, especially in front of strangers. Both Congos and Timneh African Greys have the potential to develop an incredible vocabulary and mimic many everyday sounds such as dripping water, smoke detectors, and even a caretaker’s footsteps! While African greys have a reputation for being nervous and rather shy around strangers, they can be wonderful, steady companions when raised with optimal social and environmental skills when they are young. Due to their intelligence, it is important to provide greys with lots of different toys, especially those that involve some sort of problem solving. Greys should be given a variety of toys including those made of wood, rope, and leather as well as bells, ladders, and swings.
African greys can become very bonded to just one person; therefore, it is important to socialize them with lots of different people when they are young.

Noise Level/Speech/Song

African greys tend to be fairly quiet birds (keep in mind that quiet is a relative term when it comes to parrots), but their natural sounds include pops and whistles. An alarmed African Grey will growl fiercely. African greys are renowned for their talking ability as well as their ability to mimic sounds and whistles, but not all are guaranteed to mimic human speech. However, when they do start talking, African greys will pick up words quickly, so family members need to be careful with their choice of words because once it’s learned, it is near impossible for it to be “unlearned”! Examples of good starter words include “hello,” “bye-bye,” “come here,” or even your bird’s own name. Simple words, when said with enthusiasm, seem to become more interesting to most parrots.

Intelligence & Learning

African greys are considered highly intelligent birds. The intelligence of this species is thought to rank among the highest of nonhuman animals, including apes. They can learn up to 1 000 words and speak in specific contexts. Their intelligence is not limited to speech only, it also includes deductive reasoning. Brain stimulation is required for these types of birds, that is why time out of their cage is crucial to their mental well-being.


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 multiple global organizations to protect wildlife populations and limit international trade. Some of these organizations include International Union for Conservation of Nature as well as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Relationship with Humans

African greys can become very bonded to just one person; therefore, it is important to socialize them with lots of different people when they are young. Once comfortable, they love spending time playing and snuggling with their favorite people. However, if not properly trained, can become destructive and aggressive. Neglect and stress can lead to episodes of feather plucking, a damaging neurosis that is challenging to correct.


Housing/Cage Placement

The general rule of thumb when buying a bird cage is to buy the largest cage you can afford. For optimum health and safety, the cage should be at least two and a half times the width of the birds’ wingspan in all directions. Cage bar spacing should never be so wide that your bird could stick his head through, and his tail feathers should not be able to touch the bars when he is perched comfortably. Also consider your bird’s beak strength to determine the proper gauge of the bars as some birds have been known to bend the bars and escape.

A rectangular cage with horizontal bars in which your bird has plenty of room to climb and play is the best environment for your parrot. Your parrot will be happiest in a well-ventilated room with as much natural light as possible, yet away from direct sunlight and drafts. Your bird will want to be part of the action but not right in the middle of it. Avoid placing your bird’s cage in the kitchen as there are many hazards including vapors from heated PTFE coated pans (PTFE is better known as TeflonTM), hot stoves, pots of boiling water, and cooking fumes all of which can be very harmful to your bird. The cage and accessories should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected weekly. Make sure your bird stays healthy by providing them with fresh food and water every day. Don’t forget to wash their dishes daily!

Time out of the cage every day for socialization and exercise is important.  Parrots enjoy supervised activities on a play gym loaded with their favorite toys and enrichment food. Make sure he does not have access to open doors or windows, toilets with the lid up, hot stoves, moving ceiling fans or large panes of glass. It’s also a good idea to ensure they do not chew on or ingest anything unsafe such as treated or painted wood or unsafe house plants. Do not keep your bird in a room where sprays such as perfume, hair spray, air fresheners or aerosol sprays are used frequently.

For the safety of your beloved parrot, we advise against leaving them unattended with other pets like dogs, cats, or ferrets.


At the core of your parrot’s diet should be a high-quality parrot pellet. We recommend Tropican diets as the best option for ensuring your parrot receives all the necessary nutrients to maintain good health. However, it’s important to supplement your bird’s diet with other healthy foods to provide variety. Just like people, parrots love variety and benefit from a balanced diet. While a pelleted bird food can make up a large part of the diet, gourmet seeds, mixtures of dried fruits, vegetables, and nuts (such as Tropimix), beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables are also important for the variety and nutritional benefits they provide. Sensible, healthy table foods such as cooked pasta, rice, hard-boiled eggs, multigrain toast, and unsalted crackers can also serve as treats in small amounts.

Be sure not to feed your parrot any unhealthy people foods. Avoid salty or sugary foods. Never feed your parrot chocolate, alcohol, caffeine beverages, or avocado as even small amounts can be toxic. Check out our feeding recommendations for most parrot species.

Of course, fresh water every day is very important too. Remember to wash and refill your parrot’s water bowl daily to keep your bird healthy and happy.


African Greys require a significant amount of sleep – around 10 to 12 hours – for optimal well-being. If your birdcage is situated in a high-traffic area, it’s best to relocate it to a quiet, dark location during the night. Providing a comfortable perch at a higher level in the cage will help them feel secure and maintain healthy feet. Many bird owners will cover the bird cage at night to help block out extra light (especially during the summertime). A cover can also keep the cage warmer (for those living in colder climates). For birds suffering from night terrors or if you prefer not to cover the cage, consider using a small night light or infrared basking light in the room.


Your bird’s perches can contribute to foot problems such as Pododermatitis or Bumblefoot if they are not the right size or are dirty. To avoid this, provide your bird with at least three types of perches that are appropriately sized for their feet. This includes cotton or sisal rope, natural wood perches with varying diameters, and bird-safe plastic perches. It’s important to keep these perches clean, and if you use cotton or sisal rope, check for loose strands frequently. Perches may need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear. If you use a cement style / rough grooming perch, avoid placing it at the highest level of the cage and near food and water stations.


Grey parrots are incredibly intelligent creatures, thus they require a diverse range of toys that encourage problem-solving skills. Their toys should be made of various materials, such as wood, rope, and leather, and include bells, ladders, and swings. Toys like HARI Smart.Play bird toys are specially designed to stimulate different activities and functions. They are categorized into five groups: foraging, foot & audio, preening, exercise, and perching.

Foraging toys promote mental and physical stimulation, and help to alleviate anxiety by providing entertainment. They are especially helpful when a bird is adjusting to a new environment and needs an outlet for their anxiety. Foot & Audio enrichment toys are an excellent addition to any bird’s toy collection. They stimulate curiosity, entertain birds, and promote balance, dexterity, and strength. Preening toys are particularly important if your parrot spends a lot of time alone. They help to relieve boredom, promote mental and physical stimulation, and prevent feather damaging behaviors.


Every companion parrot should know some basic commands, the most important of which are the “step up” and “step down” commands. Be consistent and use the step-up command every time you want to pick up your parrot. If you give the step-up command, it is important to make sure your parrot follows through with the command otherwise you are not patterning good behaviour. A parrot that has been well trained to step up will stick his foot out when he sees you extend your hand, often even before you ask him to step up.


While some greys are reluctant to bathe it’s important to keep their skin and feathers healthy to reduce the amount of dust they produce. A misting with a spray bottle several times a week or a shallow dish of warm water can encourage them to bathe on their own. Regular bathing not only moisturizes nasal passages and feet, but also keeps your bird’s feathers and skin in excellent condition. However, make sure to remove seeds or pellets from the cage before misting, as damp food can harbor mold and bacteria. The best time to bathe your bird is early in the day, allowing them to air-dry naturally in a draft-free area. To make showering even more enjoyable, consider providing your parrot with a shower perch!

Feather/Nail Care

African greys should get their nails trimmed about once a month. Regular trimming keeps the vein from growing to the end of the nails. 

Feather trimming, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. To avoid clipping a blood feather, it is recommended that you seek assistance from an experienced individual. It is important to note that even with trimmed wings, your bird may still have the ability to fly with one or two grown-in feathers. Therefore, always take precautions such as securing your bird in a cage or using a properly fitted bird harness before taking them outside.

Household Dangers

It is important to provide parrots with a safe environment to ensure the longest lifespan. The following is a list of common household dangers: Non-stick surfaces, oven cleaners and self-cleaning ovens, cigarette smoke, paint and paint fumes, scented candles, household cleaners, floor polish, hairspray, chlorine bleach, perfume, aerosol sprays, nail polish and nail polish remover fumes and ingesting harmful or toxic house plants. It’s important to make sure everyone in the household is aware of food and other products in the home that are potentially toxic to parrots, such as avocados, chocolate, coffee beans, onions, salt, and fruit seeds or pits. Ceiling fans, cupboards, blinds, and open doors and windows can also pose a risk as your pet may fly into, get trapped or simply fly away.

Vet Care

It’s crucial to take your African grey parrot to the veterinarian once or twice a year for a physical examination and laboratory tests as required. These birds are masters at concealing signs of illness, and often, they are very ill before you notice anything is amiss. That’s why it’s imperative to understand your pet’s behavior, so you can identify even slight changes. Some veterinarians specialize in treating birds and exotic pet species (known as avian vets or exotic vets). While some clinics offer routine bird appointments, they may refer you to a certified avian veterinarian for more complex cases. An avian veterinarian can offer expert guidance regarding appropriate health care for your parrot.

Availability in the Pet Market

African Grey Parrots can be obtained from many sources, including avian specialty stores, pet dealers, and reputable breeders. You can also explore online adoption organizations and rescue groups as alternative options.

Once a comfortable, an African Grey will love to spend time playing and snuggling with their favourite people.


Breeding Habits

African Greys generally breed once a year, depending on their environment – whether in the wild or in an aviary.  The breeding season can begin as early as September and as late as April or May, with a clutch size of about 3-4 eggs.  Aviary-bred African Greys have been known to “double” clutch if hatchlings are taken for hand-rearing or if eggs are removed from the nest box for incubation. Generally, the average incubation time for African Greys varies from 25 to 29 days.

Reproductive Maturity

The average age at which African Greys reach sexual maturity is influenced by various factors such as sex and environment, but generally falls between five to seven years. As a best practice, HARI suggests that breeding pairs of birds undergo a comprehensive medical examination by a qualified avian veterinarian to determine eligibility for breeding.

Hatchling to Fledgling

Most species of wild African Greys fledglings are about 12-16 weeks when they leave the nest. In the wild, the parent birds will defend their nesting sites and babies with a high expectation that only one or two fledglings survive to adulthood.

Most aviculturists, whether they are rearing African Greys for conservation or for pet industry trade provide a minimum sized flight of 4 feet wide x 4 feet high x 6 feet long, but a more extensive flight with a secure nest box and engaging enrichment activities is preferred. Keep in mind, the design of aviaries depends on the species, individual pairs, and available space. Breeding pairs of African Greys should consume a diet that is 70% High Performance Tropican and 30% enrichment foods for optimal results.

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