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.

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.

  • 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.

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.

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 DVD 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.

17 comments

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
Jo Petkash

I should have added this to my last email: I love your videos and watch them over and over. I hope to approach my grey with confidence, like what you show in your classes.

Jo Petkash
Edwin

Hey i have an african grey parrot nd he is six months old there i dont know what is wrong. When i ask him to get on my hand he does it but When į try to per him he sometimes bites he has even ripped four of my shirts. He is not afraid of my family members. What to do so that my bird stopped bitting?

Edwin
Jo Petkash

I would like a course that talks about territorialisum and how to introduce a 14 year old african grey to a new home.

Jo Petkash
Sandra A.

Hi, I’m bird watching my sister’s Quaker parrot and he bites. He will lunge at the cage when I get near. He has only but me once, it wasn’t hard, but startled me. Can he be taught not to bite?

Sandra A.
Mandy Murphy

Why has my african gray started talking with his back to us

Mandy Murphy

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