African Grey Congo (Psittacus erithacus) According
to Forshaw, it is divided into three subspecies, P. e. erithacus,
P. e. princeps, and P. e. timneh. Princeps occurs only on a couple
islands in the Gulf of Guinea, and timneh occurs in southern Guinea,
Sierra Leone, and western Ivory Coast.
The nominate form, P. e. erithacus, which is approximately thirteen
inches in length, is referred to in aviculture variously as the
Congo Gray, the Cameroon Gray, and the Ghana Gray. In fact, there
is no taxonomic distinction between the three and all are considered
one and the same bird. It is found throughout equatorial Africa
from the Ivory Coast in West Africa south to Angola and through
the Congo eastward to western Kenya and Tanzania. They are one
of the few parrot species that is actually expanding its range.
African Grays were imported in very large numbers from the late
1970's until 1992, when further importations were banned by the
Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992. Today, it is one of the commonest
of the larger parrots in American aviculture and is bred in large
In the wild, African Grays feed on a variety of fruits, berries,
seeds, and nuts which they take at treetop level. At Emerald Forest
Bird Gardens, we offer them Mazuri parrot pellets, soak and cook
bean mix and mixed vegetables.
Our African Grays breed in metal nest boxes lined with wood.
They lay 3-5 eggs, which we allow them to incubate and then rear
their young until approximately four weeks of age, when they are
removed to our nursery for handrearing. They wean in approximately
twelve weeks and are ready for their new homes.
African Grays are well renowned for their exceptional talking
abilities. Alex, the world famous African Gray, has been taught
over 600 words and is able to associate them in creative ways
suggesting a high level of intelligence and communication skills.
Not only are these birds capable of huge vocabularies, but they
also have the ability to sound exactly like what they are mimicking.
This is due to the musculature design of their throats. (Contrary
to popular belief parrots do not have "voice boxes."
They talk similar to the way a human would whistle. Consequently,
a parrot's ability to mimic sounds precisely depends on the number
and development of muscles in the throat.) Grays are also quite
the "thinkers." When learning to talk, they will typically
listen to you very carefully before attempting to speak. They
do not talk over you, as a flamboyant Amazon would.
Grays are also very sensitive, and don't cope well with sudden
changes in their environment. Be careful to help them adjust to
any new situation, such as moving to a new home, moving the cage
to another part of the house, getting a new job, vacations, etc.
Grays are very alert, friendly and playful parrots and love bright
colored toys. They tend to attach themselves to their favorite
human, but are not necessarily "one-person birds." All
humans involved must make an active effort to interact with these
birds. Grays' high level of intelligence, superior talking skills,
and friendly demeanor make these birds wonderful pets.