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Parrot Information

African Grey Parrots are considered the best talkers in the parrot world. The Guinness World Book of Records lists one African Grey as learning 1000 words! They can live up to 60 years and are highly intelligent. Their dusty grey coloring with the flash of brilliant red under the tail makes them a handsome bird as well.

Things to Consider Before Purchasing

Choosing an African Grey Parrot as a pet is a decision not to be rushed into. Parrot sanctuaries around the world are homes to many unwanted African Grays. They are demanding of their human owners and with such a long life span they are a lifetime commitment. Like all birds they are messy, but since they are big they are that many times messier. If not well trained or if frightened they can bite and that bite is strong enough to draw blood and even break small bones. An African Grey will require at least two hours of your companionship per day, every day, 365 days a year. If it feels neglected it will misbehave, scream and even be self-destructive, doing things such as pulling out its own feathers.

Some people are enthralled with the idea of having a parrot so that they can show off how it talks to their friends and family. This would not be the reason to purchase an African Grey. Though they are the best talkers, some choose never to talk at all.

Do detailed research into what owning an African Grey Parrot can entail and even talking to owners of African Greys before making a decision. If then you've made a firm decision to buy one, look for a reputable bird breeder. Taking birds from the wild is illegal and highly immoral as it is leading to the extinction of many species in their natural habitats. Be sure that your African Grey was born in captivity and hand raised.

When choosing a bird, look for signs of good health such as clear eyes, active and curious behavior, clean vent, and no sneezing or nose dripping. Allow the bird to sit on your finger and try and get a feel for its temperament.

African Greys live happily alone, but like most parrots they will become very attached to their humans. It is important in a family that all members spend equal time with the parrot and become comfortable with it. If this does not happen and the bird is allowed to only attach to one person the parrot may become very jealous and territorial of that person and will not allow other people to come near that family member which could become a big problem.

Parrot Cages

African Greys need a bird cage large enough to perch comfortably without touching the floor or knocking into toys. They should be able to spread their wings completely. The smallest cage size would be 32 in (width) x 32 inches (length) x 48 inches (height).

African Greys need to be outside of their cage often to fly around and socialize with their humans. A parrot stand is a good piece of equipment to have.

Their cage should be kept away from drafts and strong smells. Insecticides, aerosol perfumes, air fresheners, strong smelling cleaners should no longer be used in a house with an African Grey. These things can be toxic to a bird with such an efficient respiratory system. The Teflon on nonstick pans, if heated to too high of a temperature, produces a toxic gas very poisonous to African Greys so it is best to get rid of such pans before your African Grey arrives.

Their cage should have a variety of bird perches; natural branches of fruit trees are best. This will ensure that your parrot's feet remain healthy. A cuttle bone should be provided for your parrot to keep its beak healthy and to add calcium to their diet.

The bottom of the cage should be lined with either newspaper, shavings or sand and changed every day.

Parrot Food

African Greys, like all intelligent birds, need variety in their diet. If they become bored with their food they may choose not to eat. The basis of the African Grey's diet should be parrot pellets formulated specifically for the African Grey Parrot.

African Greys also need fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. Varying the fresh food is good. Papaya, oranges, apples, watercress, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and shredded carrots are all good food for your African Grey. Avoid cabbage, avocados, lemons, and grapefruit. Fresh water should always be available.

It is good to mix bird vitamins and mineral supplements with your parrots food or water once a week to be sure it is getting everything that it needs.

Parrot Care

African Greys should be given a birdbath in their cage 2-3 times a week to let them bathe themselves. Fill it with warm water only, no soaps or detergents. Alternatively, some birds like to be sprayed with warm water.

If the cage is equipped with a cuttle bone, it is unlikely that your parrot will need its beak trimmed at all. Some people recommend trimming parrots wings to ensure that they do not accidentally fly away. Unless you are experienced at this it would be better to leave wing trimming for the avian veterinarian. It is imperative that an African Grey's wings are not cut too short as they are a heavy bird and can easily be rendered flightless.

To keep your bird healthy, it is important to thoroughly clean the cage on a weekly basis with bird cage cleaners. Monthly, disinfect the entire cage and its contents after cleaning with a mixture of 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Rinse off the bleach mixture thoroughly and leave the cage outside in the sun to dry. Any wooden perches or toys should be replaced when they become dirty with droppings as they are unable to be disinfected. On a daily basis, wash the water and food dishes with water and dishwashing soap. Remove any fresh food, such as fruits, vegetables and proteins, after four hours of feeding.

African Greys need a lot of toys in their cage. Just ensure that there is space for the bird to perch freely. Have a stock of toys so as to rotate them.

Your parrot will need at least two hours of time with you per day. It can be time out of the cage flying, sitting being stroked and talked to or training time.

Parrot Training

Many believe that African Greys have the ability to actually understand what they are saying as opposed to just mimicking. There has also been many bird books and bird audio CDs published about this topic. Irene Pepperberg, a researcher, claims that her African Grey Parrot can answer questions such as "How many red squares?" and can count and give the correct answer 80% of the time. Many African Grey owners believe that their birds understand, at least to some extent, what they are saying.

For parrots to learn to talk they must be healthy and they must feel secure with the trainer. Once this is established the training can begin. The best way to teach a bird a new word is to repeat it and and show the item to the bird. For example, a good thing to start with is "Sweet". Say the word and then give the bird a sweet. Soon the bird will understand that when it says "Sweet" you will produce a sweet for it.

The next thing would be for the parrot to learn that it is loved. Scratch the bird on the head in a manner that it enjoys and then say, "I love you, Charlie" (if that's his name). Do this until the parrot repeats and understands that love means this nice scratch on the head.

When you are feeding your parrot, it is important to name the foods. This will teach the parrot and eventually it will also name the foods that it wants to be fed. When greeting the bird, use greetings pertaining to the time of day such as "Good Morning, Charlie" or "Good Night, Charlie".

Be careful what you say around your African Grey, once words and terms are learned they will be repeated often, so you wouldn't want the wrong words being picked up by your parrot!

Conclusion

An African Grey Parrot is a fantastic pet for the right person and a nightmare for the wrong one. Do your research, be honest with yourself about the commitment you are willing to make and if you find that the African Grey is the right pet for you, you will find an intelligent, loyal, life-long friend in him.

 

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