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African Gray Parrots

Martha Stewart Living Television

Many people choose to adopt African gray parrots because of their exceptional intelligence and superior talking ability -- said by some to rival that of a 5-year-old child's. They're also quieter than many other birds, such as Amazon parrots or cockatoos. They do have one downfall, however: African grays tend to bond to one person exclusively. For a single person, this is no problem, but for a family, this can bruise feelings. If you choose to own one of these striking birds, a little care will reward you with a parrot that's as much a companion as a pet.

Don't purchase an African gray while it's still a baby; being with other birds of the same species will improve the bird's disposition. Instead, adopt the bird when it is around 14 weeks of age. Remember not to have the bird's wings clipped too closely; severe trimmings deplete the parrot's confidence, making it clumsy and prone to phobias. 

You'll need to purchase a cage that's at least 20 by 20 inches wide and 30 inches tall, and outfit it with three food dishes, a concrete perch, and a mineral block. When the parrot reaches maturity (after about a year), you can opt for a larger cage. 

The African gray's ideal diet consists of one part seeds, one part parrot pellets, and one part fruits and vegetables; the bird should also be given water with vitamin and calcium supplements. Other foods such as pastas and whole-grain breads make good treats; one rule of thumb is, if a food is good for you, it will be good for your parrot.

An African gray should be misted every morning with warm water from a plant mister to ensure that its feathers stay strong and attractive. It will also need an assortment of toys to chew and tear at to keep itself occupied; don't pile the toys in the cage all at once. Put a different one in each day so the bird will have something to look forward to each morning. Choose a good avian veterinarian, and build a relationship with him or her before the bird has any medical problems.

Finally, your African gray will not speak immediately. Like most intelligent animals, it matures slowly and rarely talks prior to its first birthday.

Comments (1)

  • jcrocker 8 Apr, 2011

    When I brought home a puppy my Gray kicked me out of the flock. This has been 10 years and now he is attacking me when I clean his gage. I am so close to giving him away because I don't know what to do. I now keep Percy locked in his cage because if I walk to close to the cage he tries to bite. Is there any hope in getting back in the flock?
    Sincerely,
    Jean Crocker