African Grey parrots are some of the most intelligent parrots in the world. Both the Congo African Grey and Timneh African Grey species are very bright, inquisitive birds that can solve problems quite well, making them amusing to watch and somewhat challenging to own.
African Grey parrots are well known as the best talking parrots. They are much more likely to learn to speak than any other species. However, do not purchase an African Grey simply because you want a talking parrot. The only way to ensure you get a talking parrot is to buy one that already knows how to talk.
There are many African Greys that never say a word. In fact, having a talking parrot is a poor reason to purchase any parrot. Parrots, especially those as intelligent and emotional as these, need loving homes that respect them for what they are rather than homes that want to show off a talking bird.
Alex – A Smart Talking African Grey Parrot
You may have heard about Alex, the African Grey parrot owned and studied by Dr. Irene Pepperberg at the University of Arizona. This amazing parrot has been raised in a setting much like that in which a human child would be raised and using many of the same techniques and methods a parent would use in raising a healthy, happy child.
Alex has learned how to use hundreds of human words in context, actually asking for specific items he desires. He can count from one to five, after which it simply becomes “many”. He can identify shapes, colors, objects, and even tell what is different between objects in a set. If you want to learn about a truly talented parrot, you should visit the Alex Foundation online.
Not all African Grey parrots are this obviously talented, but then most parrots do not have someone that spends every minute of every day with them as is the case with Alex. The African Grey’s abilities seem to be largely limited by the amount of interaction they have with humans. Unless you become the “flock” to your African Grey, it will have no motivation to learn how to communicate in the ways this parrot has learned to talk with his trainer.
African Greys are long-lived parrots. It has been documented that one Grey that lived in Alaska was 112 years of age. With proper care, a good diet including fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seeds or pellets, a loving home, and a safe, healthy environment, these parrots can live very long lives. If you decide an African Grey is the parrot for you, keep this in mind and determine who care will for your parrot should it outlive you.
African Greys are comical and inventive in their play. In order to keep them from becoming bored, and as a result plucking or chewing their feathers, they need a spacious cage, lots of out-of-the-cage time to play and interact with people, plenty of interesting food to eat, puzzle toys to solve, wood to chew, and a regular schedule so that it knows what to expect each day. If you can give an African Grey these things, it just might be the best parrot species for you.