African Grey Parrots

The African grey parrot is one of the most commonly kept large parrots in homes throughout the world. They may lack the brilliant coloring of their macaw cousins, but they more than make up for it with their staggering verbal abilities. This makes them a very popular species.

The average African grey’s extensive vocabulary demonstrates the intensity of their intelligence. They are known to give appropriate verbal responses in unrehearsed situations without coaching. Many owners claim to “converse” with their African greys.

Congo African Grey Parrot

However, perhaps an unfortunate side effect to their intelligence, they are known to be excessively fearful and phobic. This hyper-sensitivity to handling and to their environment is often demonstrated with fear based behaviors, such as unwillingness to interact and biting.

Tragically, the unhappy grey eventually gets around to feather plucking. In fact, in captivity the ratio of unplucked to plucked African greys is about three to one: a remarkably high percentage.

Don't Let Your Bird Be a Statistic

Many of the plucked and fearful African greys in captivity come from what most would consider to be good homes with conscientious people who provide good care but have missed or misinterpreted the warning signs.

African grey parrot

  • Does your bird show reluctance to step up on your hand?
  • Does he lunge for your fingers when you reach for him?
  • Does he retreat to the corner of his cage when you or another family member come near?

These are all vivid indications that trouble is brewing with your African grey. No doubt you are scratching your head right now wondering where you went wrong, and more importantly, wondering how you can fix it!

How to keep your African Grey from being unhappy

You have a species of bird that is fearful by nature which makes it constantly on high alert and looking for things to be of which to be afraid! It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

The key to a happy African grey begins and ends with confidence. A confident bird feels secure and trusts that his environment is safe. A confident bird welcomes new toys in its cage, doesn’t have a meltdown during thunder storms, and regards the family dog as a nuisance and nothing more.

African grey parrot

You will accomplish this by creating a deep and lasting bond with your bird. Once trust is established, the world is a much less threatening place. Confidence grows as each new experience has a positive result, and the timid African grey discovers there is nothing to be afraid of after all.

Your African Grey is Waiting for You to Show Him or Her the Way

Birds innately recognize the fact that there is safety in numbers. Our companion parrots want and need the security of a trusting relationship with their humans because they consider us flock mates.

African grey pet parrot

The fastest way to a bird’s heart is usually through its stomach; most birds will not pass up an opportunity to earn a treat. This fact makes it easy to begin training with positive reinforcement. Whether it is your intention to train your bird to do elaborate tricks, or whether you simply want to use training as a tool to establish and retain trust; our Reality Series “One Day Miracles” will show you how to change your relationship with your African grey. It will also show you how to help it to become confident and happy.

30 comments

Noufail

Hi from Mauritius , I just found out about you while researching about African Greys. I owned a baby grey about twenty years ago, but gave it back to the breeder when we had our first child, fearing we would not have enough time fir both. I just got Shadow, a baby grey two weeks ago and enjoying hand rearing him. I look forward to learn a lot more from you guys.

Noufail
Traci Burnam

I just adopted an African Grey who is 20 years old. She had one owner who is moving out of the country and could not take her to the new location. She said my name the first night we brought her home! I was blown away. She was alone in her cage way too much and is very phobic of everything. She does not step up for me yet, but she is doing great with target training- and as of today, will even target over my hand (still not stepping up on my hand yet though.) I am incredibly inspired by your work with Bean and hope she will eventually be a confident enough bird to come out and have a life with us. <3

Traci Burnam
Catrina Hancock

Hello, I’m having similar situation as BROWNING MEJIA. My mom had bought an Congo African Grey named Ozzy from a pet store when he was 5 years old. He is now 20. She said when she brought him home he was very gentle . He would perch on her hand and arm. She said she was able to get him out of his cage. Then she had to leave out of town and had a friend take care of him for about a week. When she came back it was like he was a different bird. She said you couldn’t even touch him without him biting. She would have to put a towel over him to even get him out of his cage , SO I have inherit Ozzy. It seems like he is scared of everything, I have gotten him were he will take food out of your hand now and he lets me rub his head. But I’m the only one that he will allow to touch him. When my husband comes close by he fluffs up and sways . Ozzy will come out of his cage only if no one is close by, But as soon as he see you he heads back in his cage. I was just wondering if you would have any suggestions on how to get him to be more comfortable when he is out of his cage and any suggestions on how to get him to quit biting?

Catrina Hancock
Carole Winchell

I have a 4 yr old African Grey I raised from 2 months. I didn’t know about you until he was 1yr. His little toenails ripped my hands so I used a perch. All went well until last summer..harmonal, molting, he lunged & broke skin 2×. I trained with him in a perch with bandaids & high gear, have not been able to get past it. How do I get over the fear & protect my fingers? He does touch training, but no gettin on hands. HELP PLEASE!

Carole Winchell
Elizabeth Murray

We have the privilege of sharing our lives with Itsy-Bitsy a one year old Timneh Grey. Why is she so satisfied to spin all day on top of my head? Is it her nest? She is calm and a great companion but on top of my head.

Elizabeth Murray
Prashanth

I am looking for Macaw eggs. i am living n srilanka. could you please help me to find, if you can. thank you

Prashanth
SANDRA NUN

My African Gray won’t step up, he be yes me but he goes on hubby’s finger, he adores him but bites me, why, I’m the one that feeds clean and gives him treats, his name is Peewee

SANDRA NUN
Beca Vista

I have a African gray that is 10 years old we’ve had him since he was 3 months old he has learned my name and when ever he wants anything it’s always Becky Becky Becky even if he is wanting the attention of my husband he screams Becky we’ve been trying to teach him other names and he says them but when he is in need of me I just don’t know how to handle it But he will not let me touch his head and he wanting to be next to me all the time

Beca Vista
bruce mchattie

Hi. Our jungle chicken is called Missy and is 4 years old. we have had her from a baby. She is very well connected to me but does speak my wife and daughter though they don’t handle her. Was wondering what the best way to greet her when I come home is. Is it to go straight over and make a fuss, or wait until I have said hi to everyone else in my house? Thanks

bruce mchattie
Carole Winchell

I bought a baby African Grey who is now 4 yrs. prolific talker! This year started lunging. Do I get his nails trimmed although I have only sandy perches ..no help. He like walnuts to train..tried to change, but prefers walnuts. I use your recipes. He’s hard to work with when we used to train all day. I watch body language for readiness to work. He plays in a 10×8 abiary of stainless steel indoors. I have many of your videos, but not all. Do I have his toenail clipped? I hesitate because it scares him at the avian vet.

Carole Winchell
Kelly

Hey, I bought a 7 year old African grey parrot and he likes to come on our hands only when he is at the top of the cage. If he is inside the cage and we offer our hand and treat he makes a clicking sound and nibbles on my hand. Why does he do this?

Kelly
John Wildeman

Have had a CAG for some 19 years now. Recently she started biting me REALLY,REALLY hard. I’m going to try the clikcer training. Hopefully she will stop trying to eat me and go back to the wonderful friend she used to be. Oh by the way, I feed her Harrison’s pellets. I knew Greg when he was first overdeveloping his food. he would give me a bag and say" Hey John see f your bird will start eating this" He is a great guy and I often think of our times just sitting in his clinic and talking about birds/

John Wildeman
Stephanie Barrett

I am hoping you can offer me some advice on my Grey. She’s 8 months old and very tame, loving and secure. On May 4th, I had a man come in to clean my ducts. I had no idea what to expect. He came into the house with a 10" vacuum hose, and ran it through the house. My girl freaked out completely. I brought her upstairs to my bathroom, and she never saw it again. Since then however, she has started chewing on her feathers. I am so afraid for her. Nothing ever bothered her before, but I think this was very traumatic for her. Any suggestions? She is out of her cage except for when I am at work or to sleep. Thanks very much.

Stephanie Barrett
Roger Leclercq

How long should my African Gray’s beak be We are 3rd or 4th owner. We were told she was 23 when we got her and we have had her for 8+ years we feed her Katee forti diet and pellets as well as veggies she also loves cashews and a occasional cheeto as well as chicken and a small piece of steak I love your videos and is your brother still around

Roger Leclercq
Lino Camilleri

Been rearing parrots from their weaning days up to breeding maturity and this year should be d breakthrough, however with no success for now. Have 2 pairs Amazon, 1 pair of Grey’s, 1 pair of Senegal and 1 of Ringnecks. Love interacting with them and they look promising. Love any information I could lay hands on so to check my practices and to learn others. Found your breed information interesting although generic. Thanks.

Lino Camilleri
Robert Dalton

I have an African Grey that doesn’t like nuts and only takes fruits as treats. She gets sick of one fruit and I have to change the treat (she will do a trick and I offer the treat and she drops it). Her favorite is blue berries but now she’s not eating those as treats either. Training has come to a stop because of this. Please help cause I don’t know what to do at this point.

Robert Dalton
Gino De Backer

Hi! I am the proud owner of a 21 year old African grey named Kyra (pronounced Kira in Dutch). I bought him when he was 7 weeks old so we have a strong emotional connection. I’d be lost without him. I can get him to do several tricks (if he feels like it) but I would like to teach him how to play fetch. I saw it on another Youtube channel (wingsNpaws/Bird Plays Fetch) but I am a bit stuck. IF he goes after the ball he won’t return it to me (although it is very light). AND if I want to take the ball from him (to try again) he becomes very defensive and sometimes agressive. I haven’t seen you play fetch with one of your birds so I was wondering if you could make a video on how to teach this trick to a parrot. I stopped the fetch training for now pending your reply or video. Thank you for your youtube channel. Love it! Even after more then 21 years I am still learning new stuff. Thanks to you! Grts. Gino (Belgium)

Gino De Backer
Elli Reidinger

I just inherited an African Grey who has been in his cage with almost no interaction for almost 10 years. He likes to talk but he won’t let me touch him without biting me. When he comes out of his cage we can’t get him back in and he doesn’t know how to fly. So when he tries to fly around he crashes into everything.

Elli Reidinger
Browning Mejia

we are a second owners to a pretty untamed African grey. never truly learned how to step up and previous owners would pick it up with a black towel. this bird is now terrified of big black objects. because its hard to get her back in the cage she was not getting out her cage much for a long period of time. I just moved back in this household and have taken over the care of the grey. she will come out her cage and is now comfortable going in and out of her cage. when she comes to me I can provide neck scratches but sometimes she will still lunge at me very aggressively. unless I see her eyes closing and super comfortable she is still likely to attack even when she allowed to scratch. the scariest part is that when she attacks and I try to give a negative enforcement she will really attack. like will walk towards me engaging. not a fear ridden get away type of behaviot. im trying to teach her how to step up but the only time we ever had success was one foot at atime without commiting but this only got to this stage because she was stimulated from neck scratches. if not I would have been bitten. I obviously don’t want to have to stimulate her just to feel comfortable having my hand at her near her in this manner.even if I falsely read that she wanted neck scratches why would she bite me? im trying to understand this aggression and how to properly provide a negative re enforcement whenever she lunges. I only got her to step up once and that was her first night exploring the floor after flying down from the cage. she sleeped on the floor I couldnrt get her up and in the morning she was sooo ready for her cage that she came right to me. so I can scratch her at times feed her whenever, stick my hand in her cage as long as im not bothering her or just simpky bputting food and such but she still will lunge at me from time to time and will continue the attack. can you please help. feel free to ask any questions.

Browning Mejia
Helande

Good day, I have an african grey that has a bad odor. He doesn’t bath himself and is afraid when we leave water in his cage for him to bath. What can be the cause of him smelling and how do I get him to bath? Thanks

Helande
Clare

Hi ive got 8 month old african grey ,at the moment shes eating buctons elite seed mix,from 8 am till 5pm,then bucktons no 1 with pellets mixed in,is this ok or should i change her diet?what pellets would be good?thanks so much for your videos,

Clare
Nauf

My African grey is a bit scared to get on anyone’s hand somehow and she doesn’t eat properly. She doesn’t fly to me when I’m looking at her, but she flies when I have my back turned. If she see me looking at her when she fly, she tries to leave the house using the window. Can you help me?

Nauf
Dakoda lloyd

Reaction to biting. Whats best, to say ouch and talk to your baby?or try and ignore the bite? as hard as that is sometimes.

Dakoda lloyd
Teresa Huber

I’ve recently rescued a 4yr old Congo African grey (3-18-2019). We don’t know for sure exactly how he was mistreated. Just very apparent he was. Finding his triggers are like stepping on landmines. He repeatedly slammed himself against the sides of his cage. Nobody was approaching him or his space while he did this. The over night cameras caught all of it. Like he was trying to hurt himself. When I first seen him he had been moved to a cubicle. He was brought back to the lady that raised him. Someone else adopted him for 3 months and brought him back. That’s when I first met Einstein now Harry. There was blood on the wall from a previous blood feather injury that kept opening. He was a damn mess. I don’t know the first thing about Grey’s. There was talk about some birds can’t come back after years of abuse/mistreatment. I wasn’t having it. I jumped in with both feet…facepalm. I took him straight to the vet before bringing him home. Because obviously he couldn’t be handled. I was just as afraid of him as he was of me. When we got him home he had his own room with very light traffic. He didn’t hurt himself like at the pet store but if I approached the cage for any reason he would lose it. It’s getting less and less but he still looks scared. He finally took a treat from my daughter. Which was awesome. At first I just wanted to let him get settled and learn he wouldn’t be harmed and be fed a better diet. Still alot of issues. I’m gonna keep watching videos and learn as much as I can. You both have been a great help. I’m thinking of getting a clicker. I want his life to be better. I have no expectations of him. He only whistles and I’m ok with that. I don’t need him to be my entertainment. I just want him to be less afraid, happier and just know what it’s like to be part of a caring family.

Teresa Huber
Pat Ansert

would love to get the cook book.but due to extreme low low income.is there some way to see some recipes..I have two Congos,one great bill.one amazon Thank You

Pat Ansert

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