AFRICAN GREY

Scientific Name: Psittacus erithacus

Other Common Names:  Grey Parrot, Congo Grey Parrot, Congo African Grey Parrot,

Native Country: Central Africa – Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda

Habitat:  Rainforests

Height (Head to Tail) : 30 – 40cm, Large Size

Lifespan: 40-60 years in captivity vs. 25 years in the wild

Weight: 400 – 500 grams

Congo African Grey Parrot perched on branch in the wild

African Grey – Appearance:

As the name suggests, African Grey’s are predominantly grey in appearance, including the head, body and wings. They have a ring of white around the eyes and a dark grey beak. A strikingly similar parrot to the Congo African Grey is the Timneh African Grey parrot. One feature that distinguishes them from the Timneh parrot is the bright red tail feathers.

Congo African Grey Parrot eating Cucumber on branch

African Grey – Diet:

80% High Quality Pellet Mix – A staple fortified pellet diet that is tailored for African Grey’s or large parrots. Popular brands specializing in African Grey diets include Harrisons High Potency Coarse, Vetafarm South American Mix, Lafeber Nutriberries or Zupreem Fruit Blend

10% Fresh Fruit and VegetablesSprouting Seed, Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, Banana, Apple, Dates, Pears, Watermelon

10% Seed and Nuts – Walnuts, Palm Nuts, Macadamia, Almonds, Pine Nuts, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Pecans

Tip: African Grey’s are foraging birds, hide some dry food within toys for them to locate and retrieve.

harrisons high potency pelletsHarrison’s Adult Lifetime Coarse 5lb
lafeber nutriberries tropical fruitLAFEBER’S Tropical Fruit Nutri-Berries 3lb
zupreem pure fun food pelletsZuPreem Pure Fun 2lb – Blend of Fruit, Vegetables, Nuts

African Grey – Essentials:

When bringing your little birdie home for the first time, you will need to ensure you have the basics sorted beforehand.

  • Bird Cage – African Grey’s are the largest parrots of Africa so best to buy the largest cage you can afford and fit within your space. As a guide, cage size should be at least 100cm x 80cm x 160cm (W x L x H). It’s best to line the cage with newspaper to easily clean their droppings/mess.
  • Cage Cover – any cloth that covers 90% of the cage so the bird can sleep in darkness e.g. light blanket or sheet
  • Perch – at least two perches, preferably sturdy natural bark branches or cement to keep their nails naturally trimmed. It’s a great idea to have an external perch i.e. on top of the cage so your bird can socialize or forage.
  • Toys – at least 3 toys to begin with for mental stimulation/entertainment; highly recommend foraging toys or those that can be chewed e.g. yucca stack, wooden beads or cardboard
  • Bowls – 3x bowls (one for seeds, one for fresh fruit/vegetables and the other for water); your bird might use the water bowl to bath too, that’s completely fine!

Still not sure? Click here to download our 100% FREE bird care checklist here.

African Grey – Behavior:

  • Socialization: African Grey parrots are highly social and gentle animals therefore they require daily interaction and affection. However, these birds also have an emotional sense meaning they can be affected by environmental stresses such as neglect or isolation.

  • Vocalization: These parrots are intelligent and often kept as pets or rather companions due to their mimicking capabilities. Not only can they accurately mimic sounds but pronounce words or even hold conversation.

They’re so smart that a famous African Grey called ‘Einstein‘ made it to a game show!

African Grey on a Gameshow –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rfGEtALHYs

African Grey – Breeding:

On average the African Grey’s reach sexual maturity at 3-5 years of age and are considered monomorphic breeds. Therefore if you plan to breed a pair, make sure you get a DNA test beforehand.

Other requirements for breeding are mentioned below:

  • Requirements:
    • Rectangle shaped Nest box made from strong untreated wood (min. dimensions 45x45x60cm – HxWxL) – these birds have strong beaks, so ensure the wood is thick so it cannot be chipped away in the first breeding season
    • Nest box filling – non-toxic wood shavings or saw dust
    • You may offer a breeding food mix if available near you, usually contains extra calcium to prevent egg binding
  • Mating Partner: monogamous – one partner for life
  • Breeding Season: Dry season
  • Clutch Frequency: 1 – 2 clutches per year
  • Clutch Quantity: 3 – 5 eggs per clutch
  • Incubation Period: 30 days
  • Weaning: 12 weeks
Image: Pair of Congo African Grey parrots preening each other

African Grey – Health:

Common IssueSymptoms Causes
Psittacosis Appetite loss, fluffed feathers, vomiting, nasal/ocular discharge, diarrhea or pale green feces, breathing difficulties, conjunctivitis, minimal physical movement, tremorsBacteria: Chlamydia psittaci contracted via infected dried saliva, feathers, mucous and feces
Proventricular Dilatation Syndrome “Macaw Wasting SyndromeLoss of appetite, vomiting, passing of undigested food in feces, weight loss, overall body weakness, head tremors seizuresAvian Bornavirus (ABV) contracted through feces, saliva and other bodily secretions from birds – causes nerve inflammation
Feather PluckingForm of self mutilation by plucking their own feathers, leaving bald patches of skinBoredom, lack of mental stimulation, poor diet, illness, stress
Psittacine Beak & Feather DiseaseSharp, clubbed or abnormally short feathers, pigment loss in colored feathers, bloody feather shafts Beak & Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) contracted from other infected birds e.g. oral – parent feeding young or ingestion of virus particles in dust feces
AspergillosisWeight loss, lethargy, constantly fluffed feathers, difficulty breathing, cloudy eyes, droopy wingsAspergillus fungus: exposure to spores found in dust, mold, soil – mainly affects malnourished or immunocompromised birds
MalnutritionNasal discharge, sneezing, wheezing conjunctivitis, poor feather quality, weakness, egg binding, embryonic death Vitamin A or Calcium deficiency
WormsDiarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, malnutrition or blood in fecesAscaris roundworm or flatworms – eggs passed in droppings

Did You Know?

1. The Congo African Grey parrot is declared an endangered species

2. To have a little fun with your African Grey, get them to converse with smart speaker such as Alexa or Siri

3. African Grey’s priced at over $4,000 AUD due to their superior cognitive behaviors


Other Species of Interest: