African Gray Parrot – a friend for life
The African Gray Parrot is is a medium-sized parrot with distinctive gray feathers and white markings around the eyes, and a black bleak. The African Gray Parrot is considered one of the most intelligent birds said to have the intelligence of a five year old child and the temper of a two year old. A Gray is a great imitator with cognitive development similar to that of highly intelligent animals such as chimpanzees and dolphins.
This species is makes a wonderful companion bird due to its high intelligence, sociability, ability to learn and reproduce human speech and its magnificent beauty. Scientific studies have also shown that they are able to make the connection mentally between words and their meanings, to express certain preferences and even to apply concepts such as color, shape and number.
African Gray Parrots live 50-70 years in captivity. They can mimic and interpret the noises and sounds from household appliances to swear words. They have well-developed memories that are capable of distinguishing a large number of voices. Males tend to be slightly longer than females and females have a narrower head and a suppler neck.
The diet of the wild African Gray Parrot includes fruits, leafy vegetables, seeds, palm nuts and sometimes snails. The diet of captive-bred African Gray should include grains, pellets, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables and cuddlebone for calcium supplementation. These birds are good breeders, laying 2-4 eggs at a time, with an incubation period of 21-30 days. Captive-bred African Grays have suffered several mutations, including albino, lutino, grizzles, white-tailed, parino and incomplete ino (mostly white). There are also a few mutations which have occurred naturally in the wild.
In the absence of regular communication between owner and bird, Grays get bored and frustrated which leads to feather picking. These domestic parrots have a gentle nature and lovely disposition, but they require constant attention from and interaction with their family members. The most famous African Gray Parrot was Alex , which died in 2007 at 31 years old. Alex belonged to Dr. Pepperberg, an animal psychologist and was the subject of the Avian Language Experiment. Alex could identify more than 100 actions, colors and objects.