Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Friday, March 4, 2011

Species of the Day: African Gray Parrot


Genus: Psittacus Species: erithacus

Races including nominate:
Two - P.e. erithacus, P.e. timneh

Size: erithacus-  12.8 inches, timneh- 11.7 inches Adult Weight: erithacus- 400g, timneh- 320g

Adult Coloration:
P.e. erithacus: Both adults gray in color with gray/white scalloping to the feathers; flight feathers are a darker gray. Red tail and undertail coverts. Black bill, gray eyes. P.e. timneh: Both adults dark gray in color, paler on the rump and abdomen; dark gray undertail coverts tinged with dark red; dark burgundy tail feathers edged with brown. Upper mandible dark red tipped with black, lower mandible black.

Call: Variety of whistles, squawks, shrieks, beeps and screams given in flight and a rest.

Status in the Wild:

World Population: Not recorded

P.e. erithacus: Central Africa from the Comoe river, North-Eastern Ivory Coast East to Northern Angola, Southern Democratic Republic of Congo, North-Western Tanzania, Western Kenya at Kakamega forest and Western Uganda; also found on the islands of Principe and Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea.
P.e. timneh: Western Africa from Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Southern Mali east to the Southern Ivory Coast. Mixed with erithacus in a feral population at Abidjan on the Ivory Coast.


Found in primary and secondary rainforests, forest edges and clearings, gallery forests and  mangroves; wooded savannas, cultivated land and some gardens. Found in elevations of 7216 feet.


Feeds at the tops of trees; gregarious, forming large communal flocks of up to 1000 individuals, roost in palms over water or on islands in rivers. Disperses in groups of 30 or so for feeding.

Wild Diet:
Eats a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and berries and some cultivated maize.

IUCN Rating:

CITES Rating:
Appendix  II

Threat Summary:
Extensive deforestation in Nigeria to Sierra Leone; heavy trapping for the pet trade.

As Pets:
Both hand-reared and parent raised captive bred birds can make great companions, however you get a more confident bird if it has been hand-reared. These parrots are considered the most intelligent of all parrots, and are thought to have the intellectual and emotional capabilities of a six year old child. That being said they are extremely sensitive and need a lot of attention from their families. These birds are excellent talkers, with Alex the gray parrot being the most famous. Alex learned label a great variety of objects, count to up to seven and even ask for specific treats or toys. Their intelligence clearly shows through their expressive faces and charming personalities. They can be playful but aren't known as big cuddlers, although a few exceptions always crop up now and then. Although most parrots are clumsy as chicks, African grays in particular retain this clumsiness throughout their whole lives. Make your gray more comfortable when you hold or carry them by allowing them to rest their beak on your chest as they perch on your hand. Remember, these birds are highly intelligent so enrichment is a must, otherwise behavior problems will develop! African grays have an average life span of about 50-60 years and are a huge commitment. They are NOT for beginners and require lots of time, money and patience to keep them healthy and happy.

 Captive Status:
Common in captivity, but heavily imported due to the high demand for them that captive breeders cannot keep up with. From 1994 to 2003 over 359,000 wild-caught individuals were traded on the international market with high mortality rates among the captured.

Large, suspended cage or Aviary, minimum length 3 meters (9 ft)

Cooked beans and pulses, boiled corn, sunflower seed- dry, soaked or sprouted but limited, spray millet; fruit such as apple, orange, banana, pomegranate, pear; vegetables such as carrot, celery, green beans, and peas in the pod. Complete pellet diets are always a must.

Foot toys, non-toxic destructible (shredder) toys, non-toxic non-destructible toys, food puzzle toys, push-and-pull puzzle toys, vegetable-tanned leather toys, perches and swings of different sizes and texutres, willow, fir, pine or elder branches. Introduce with care, as grays are very sensitive to change and novel things.

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