African Grey

Congo African Grey


Congo African greys enjoy socializing, but its behavior is often affected by the owner’s mood and home environment. This pet bird isn’t known as a cuddler, but it does enjoy a head scratch. Some African grey owners say these pet birds are intuitive to the point that they become familiar with the owner’s schedule of activities. African greys are also known to be mischievous, a quality some pet birds use to play pranks on their owners.

Behavior / Health Concerns

Biting and aggression seems to be common with males and excessive shyness more common with females. African greys are susceptible to feather picking, calcium, vitamin-A and vitamin-D deficiencies, respiratory infections, psittacosis and psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD). African greys are sensitive to stress. These pet birds are capable of getting through the typical stressful moments that any family will encounter, but they will not thrive if kept in a home with extended periods of anxiety and stress.

Expert Advice

“They stay closely in tune with their human companions and give a sense of intimacy or special closeness to the relationship. They seem to also have a keen sense of humor and make their owners laugh. The most frequently encountered problems have to do with their tendency to be more sensitive to adverse rearing conditions, as well as any lack of stability in their first 18 months. In my personal experience, a more confident grey is allowed to wean at his own pace and is able to develop good flight skills as a fledgling, before having his wings gradually trimmed back. Once he has gone into his new home, a sense of stability is necessary. For example, it is best if the new owners do not go on vacation for the first 18 months, and even then the grey must be prepared gradually for the initial absence”

Pamela Clark, IAABC Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant

“They respond well to positive reinforcement. They are intelligent and learn very quickly. The reputation for being phobic or nervous is a big misconception when it comes to African greys and is more of a product of how we raise them. For me in particular, often when an African grey is allowed to fly, it tends to be more confident because they learn that when they don’t like something they can fly away from it.”

Barbara Heidenreich, Animal trainer and behavior consultant – Good Bird Inc.

Breed Details

Scientific Name:
Native Region:
Medium 13 inches
Life Expectancy:
up to 50 years
Noise Level:
Talk / Trick Ability:
Known as the Einstein’s of the bird world, African greys have excellent talking ability and are thought to recognize the meaning of words as well. This parrot benefits from new challenges and continued learning. It is recommended that these birds have a variety of toys that stimulate thinking. The perception of intelligence level in parrots has changed due to work with African grey parrots, such as Alex, a Congo African grey used in Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s cognitive research. Alex was famous for recognizing and labeling colors and counting objects.