How to raise African Grey Parrots


DIY and how-to

African Grey parrot perched on wooden frame.

How to raise African Grey Parrots?

African Grey parrots are extremely intelligent birds and are often thought of as the best speaking parrots. They are also thought to be very neurotic and extremely shy birds, with strong reasoning abilities. Many of these birds also show a marked loyalty and preference for only one person and will show disdain toward others. They demonstrate their neuroses by plucking out their own feathers and many will even bite humans if they get nervous.

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your African Grey:

  • Motivate your parrot to talk by doing a very strange thing: Talk to it but do not touch it or reach inside its cage anymore than you have to. These shy birds seem to react more favorably towards people when they are not routinely removed from their cages. All African Greys have the ability to imitate speech, and some do it in a conversational manner, but will only do so after their first year. If your bird is young, just talk to it a lot and it will store those words away in its brain for later use.
  • Avoid feather plucking by alleviating the causes of the condition, such as boredom or lack of enough human interaction, or perhaps even having too much human interaction. Don’t stress out every time the bird yanks out a feather, and don’t fawn over it continuously as this just makes the bird more nervous. Their diet, their environment, even the air they breathe, can cause African Greys to pluck. Don’t smoke around these birds, and give them a frequent mist of water to keep their air and feathers from becoming too dry. Give your Grey a regular bath and keep them away from enthusiastic youngsters.
  • Socialise your African Grey with people as soon as possible. These birds tend to bond with one person over another but if they are not socialised early on they tend to become very shy around people except for the one they are bonded with. Greys will either ignore other people or try to drive them away, but will cling to and protect their chosen human. This bond is even stronger during the bird’s natural mating season when they will ferociously attack anyone coming too close to their bonded person. The male Grey is the more aggressive of the genders.
  • Scratch your parrot’s head and neck often as this is a preening ritual that the bird enjoys very much. In return, the bird will have fewer behavioral problems in the future, as some of the more neglected birds seem to have. These problems include biting, feather plucking and loud screaming. Toys are also important for these intelligent birds as a means of holding their interest. Frequently rotate the toys in the cage so the bird does not get bored.
  • Solve your parrot’s behavioral problems by simply distracting the bird from the improper behavior. Slapping or yelling at the bird does not work with parrots, but will make the bird more nervous than ever and African Greys are naturally nervous to begin with. Give the bird a different toy or take it out of the cage for a walk to get its mind off of the bad behavior. Greys learn easily and, if you are consistent with this treatment, the bird will learn to behave.
  • Train your parrot to understand simple commands such as ‘up’ and ‘down’. This is one good way to establish your position in the ‘flock’ with your bird. Parrots need to know that you are dominant and, once they learn that, they will do as you ask. Teaching your bird the word ‘no’ is very helpful as well as giving the bird a stern look unlike other expressions that it typically sees on your face.