African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus): This is the nominate subspecies, larger than the Timneh at about 33 cm (13 in) long, with light-grey feathers, cherry-red tails, and an all-black beak. Immature birds of this subspecies have tails with a darker, duller red towards the tip (Juniper and Parr 1999) until their first moult, which occurs by 18 months of age. These birds also initially have grey irises, which change to a pale yellow colour by the time the bird is a year old. The Congo Grey Parrot is found on the islands of Príncipe and Bioko, and is distributed from southeastern Ivory Coast to western Kenya, northwest Tanzania, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and northern Angola. In aviculture, it is often called a “CAG”.
Timneh African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh, or Psittacus timneh): This subspecies is smaller in size, has a darker charcoal grey colouring, a darker maroon tail, and a light, horn-coloured area to part of the upper mandible. The Timneh Grey Parrot is endemic to the western parts of the moist Upper Guinea forests and bordering savannas of West Africa from Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and southern Mali east to at least 70 km (43 mi) east of the Bandama River in Ivory Coast. It is often called a “TAG”. As pets, Timnehs begin learning to speak earlier than Congos and are often said to be less nervous around strangers and novel situations. In 2012, Birdlife International gave the Timneh Parrot full species status and it was classified as Vulnerable.
Their sociability and intelligence can make African Grey Parrots excellent pets. They have a devoted following among parrot owners. However, the same qualities mean African Greys require a special commitment by their owners to provide frequent one-on-one interaction and supervised time out of their cages. They must be kept entertained and busy with people and toys or they may become stressed and develop self-destructive behaviors. African Greys require large cages, varied diets that include fresh foods, and plenty of safe and destructible toys. If not provided with these items, African Greys quickly develop unpleasant behaviours and may eventually develop health problems (such as feather-plucking) that are difficult to remedy.
Even the healthiest, happiest pet African Grey will generate a fair amount of mess and noise. Like most parrots, they are not domesticated, and even a well-socialized, hand-raised, aviary-bred bird is only one or two generations removed from its wild predecessor. Despite this, the recorded history is long of African Greys being kept by the ancient Greeks, wealthy Roman families, King Henry VIII, Portuguese sailors, and others.
Wild African Grey Parrots often whistle, click, or make other sounds. An African Grey’s owner should expect to hear regular renditions of microwaves, telephones, alarm clocks, video games, and other electronic sounds, as well as dripping water, wild birds, and any other sound often heard by the parrot. African Greys have even been known to repeat the profanity they heard from an owner even after they no longer live with that owner. African Greys also have the ability to mimic, and distinguish between, the different voices they hear.
Grey parrots depend on large, old trees for the natural hollows they use for nesting.
Like many large parrots, the African Grey is a long-lived bird. The Animal Ageing and Longevity Database states the longest reliably recorded longevity for the species in captivity as 49.7 years. Also acknowledged are claims of captive African Grey parrots reaching the ages of 73 and 93, whereas the World Parrot Trust lists a longevity of 50–60 years for an African Grey in captivity. The Guinness Book of World Records listed a grey parrot that allegedly lived in captivity for 72 years as the longest-lived specimen for the species.
The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus), also known as the Grey Parrot, is a medium-sized parrot found in the primary and secondary rainforest of West and Central Africa. Experts regard it as one of the most intelligent birds in the world. They feed primarily on palm nuts, seeds, fruits, and leafy matter, but have also been observed eating snails. Their overall gentle nature and their inclination and ability to mimic speech have made them popular pets, which has led many to be captured from the wild and sold into the pet trade. The African Grey Parrot is listed on CITES appendix II, which restricts trade of wild-caught species because wild populations cannot sustain trapping for the pet trade.