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Facts About African Grey Parrots: Brilliant and Endangered Birds
Animal Facts, Birds, Pet Care, Wildlife

Facts About African Grey Parrots: Brilliant and Endangered Birds

African Grey Parrot facts

This post has information and facts about African Grey Parrots. They are the smartest bird in the world and they also make great pets. Sadly, because of illegal trapping for the pet trade, and deforestation of their natural habitat, this beautiful species is facing extinction.


The African Grey parrot is a medium-sized grey bird famous for its intelligence and incredible ability to mimic human and animal sounds. They are among the smartest birds in the world and the best mimics of human speech. Research shows they have cognitive skills equal to that of a 5-year-old child. Some have large vocabularies, some more than 1,500 words, and can understand their meaning. They have the ability to imitate the sound of their owner’s voices and others they come in contact with. A lot of research has been done on the speech and intelligence of these birds by scientists around the world. One famous study was conducted by Dr. Irene Pepperberg with her African Gray, Alex. In her study, she was able to show that these parrots can use the words they learn in context to hold conversations. They can identify shapes and colors, learn number sequences, and ask unprompted questions. Now that is pretty smart! They rank close to dolphins and gorillas in terms of intelligence.



  1. They have silverish, greyish feathers, a white face and head, yellow eyes, a bright red tail, and an incredibly strong hooked beak.
  2. There are two subspecies: the Congo Grey parrot and the Timneh Grey parrot. They are very similar, in fact, They were not separated into two species until 2012. The Timneh is a bit smaller, with darker feathers and a darker red tail. Also, the Timneh beak is ivory colored instead of black.
  3. Just like all parrots, they have four toes in each foot with two facing forward and two facing backward. This is common in climbing birds.
  4. African Grey parrots are native to rainforests of central Africa. They can be found across Africa right along the equator from the Ivory to Coast to Kenya. They prefer lowland dense forests, and forests along rivers and wetlands but can also be found in savannas where the trees are widely spaced.
  5. They are the largest parrots in Africa and measure about 13 inches, weigh about 2 pounds, and have a wingspan of up to 20 inches.
  6. They are herbivores and eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries. They seem to prefer oil palm nuts and the berries of the cola plant.
  7. They are highly social birds. They can be found flying through the sky in noisy flocks or roosting in big groups in treetops in the evenings.
  8. The average lifespan in the wild is estimated to be about 23 years, however, in captivity, they can live for more than 60 years.


  1. African Grey parrots build nests in holes in trees, and each breeding pair have their own tree. The nests are usually between 30 to 100 ft. off the ground. The female lays between two to five eggs which hatch around 3 to 4 weeks later. The male bird brings the female bird food during the incubation period.
  1. The chicks remain in the nest for eleven to twelve weeks after hatching and both parents help feed the baby birds. They continue to feed their babies for up to 5 weeks even after they have left the nest.


Because of their impressive intelligence, vocal abilities, and physical beauty, these parrots are very popular as pets. But, before you go running looking to get one there are a few details you should know.



  • As pets, they are gentle and friendly with their owners, as long as they get all the attention and interaction they demand.
  • Because they usually form strong bonds with one family member, they need owners who can spend a lot of time interacting and socializing the bird with other members of the family
  • They need a lot of exercise to maintain their muscle tone. So, they need to spend several hours a day outside of the cage playing in a parrot safe environment
  • The cage should be large enough for them to be able to fully extend their wings
  • They are hard to keep occupied. They need plenty of mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. So, they need many toys to keep their minds occupied.
  • When bored they may adopt destructive behaviors such as feather picking or become aggressive.
  • They need several physical exams a year so you need to find an avian vet near you.

If you are going to get one, they make wonderful pets, but make sure you have the time to dedicate to them and make sure it is not a wild-caught bird.


The African Gray parrot is listed in the IUCN Red List as Endangered with a declining population. The main threats to this species are the destruction of their natural habitat and the large-scale trapping of wild African Grey Parrots for sale to the pet trade. It is estimated that about 100,000 of these birds are trapped every year. They are poorly treated and a large number of them die during transportation.

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