All About African Greys
African Grey Parrots, known for their talking ability, were probably kept as pets back in Roman Times where it is known that there were shipments to Rome of parrots from Africa. It is certain that the Grey Parrot was known and traded by 1522 A.D. when a naturalist named Ulysses Aldrovandi mentioned the Grey Parrot in his zoological work. Today, the African Grey Parrot is one of the most popular pet birds.
There is only one species of African Grey Parrot, Psittacus erithacus erithacus, commonly known as the "Congo" Grey Parrot and one sub-species, Psittacus erithacus timneh, known as the "Timneh" Grey Parrot. There is some debate about a second species known as Psittacus erithacus princeps, often referred to as the "Ghana" Grey Parrot. It is considered by some to be a separate race. It is slightly smaller in length and darker in color. There are other variations in the coloration of African Grey Parrots. There are some birds speckled with red feathers and those with pinkish tones in their grey feathers. There are some nicknamed "Cameroons" which are larger and lighter grey in color.
The "Congo" Grey inhabits equatorial Africa from the south-eastern part of the Ivory Coast to western Kenya and northern Angola, the Congo and north-western Tanzania. The "Timneh" Grey inhabits Sierra Leone, southern Guinea, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. The "Ghana" Grey Parrot has been found on the islands of Principe and Fernando Po.
African Grey Parrots are highly intelligent animals. Dr. Irene Pepperberg, PhD, who earned her degree from Harvard, began her study of inter-species communication and avian cognition in 1977 working with an African Grey Parrot known as "Alex". The results of her work over the last twenty years has shown that African Grey Parrots can master tasks once thought to be beyond the capacity of all animals except humans. Alex has shown the ability to comprehend words for labels of objects. He also understands concepts of categories like same/different, absence, quantity and size. Alex has shown the world that African Grey Parrots are truly intelligent animals.
"Dr. Pepperberg and Alex"
Unlike Amazons, Macaws, Conures and Cockatoos, African Grey Parrots are known to be relatively quiet birds. They make whistle sounds and tones which are usually not offensive to most. They usually begin talking at six months of age although some can take up to two years before they are vocalizing words and sentences. They are active birds and require a fairly large cage so that they can swing and play. They love to hang upside down and attack their toys! They are very affectionate birds and crave attention and physical contact, i.e. hugs and kisses. If socialized correctly as young birds, they with easily adapt to a family situation, accepting all members as part of their flock.