Q: I have asked a lot of people what is the normal weight for my congo African grey and everyone gives me a really different answer. What do you guys have to say?
-Stan L., Jacksonville, FL
A: It doesn’t surprise me that you have gotten a variety of answers, in a way it’s a trick question. In reality, the normal congo african grey weight can be anywhere between 400 -700 grams. That information is not at all helpful to the person that is trying to determine whether their bird is at the right weight.
Let me explain how this number is so varied…
In the wild, the african grey occupies a large area in the central and western parts of Africa, an area perhaps about 250,000 square miles. Inside this enormous range, the different regions produce congo greys that are widely varied in appearance.
This will explain why some people have greys that are bigger and smaller, or darker or lighter than their friend’s grey. The “Cameroon” African grey (technically a congo but which many people still feel deserves its own subspecies categorization) is the largest of the African greys and is silvery in color.
The small and darker timneh African grey subspecies can be found in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, in the most northwestern portion of the african grey’s territorial range.
Since the ban on importation in 1992, the waters have been muddied. The congo african greys being sold have been captive bred, one region with another, and there is no longer any way to identify a region of origin. The result is a HUGE variety in size and coloring among companion african greys.
So it is no easier to give you an accurate normal weight range for your bird than it would be to list the normal weight of, say, a European man. It is almost irrelevant. Instead, the way to gauge a healthy weight for your bird is by body tone.
Running down the center of your bird’s chest is the “keel bone”. While you will always be able to detect this bone, it should be neither too prominent in that it juts out or be obscured by flesh. In a bird that is the appropriate weight, it should be clear that the bone is there and the surrounding muscle should be firm and almost level with the apex of the bone.
I have found that feeling beneath the wings also gives up a lot of information about a birds weight and muscle tone. If your bird feels soft and out of shape, it is. Just like with human beings, diet and exercise are the key to weight maintenance.
If you have your bird on a healthy diet, and give it ample opportunity to exercise, your bird’s body will automatically normalize to the appropriate weight for YOUR bird’s size.
Please check out our nutrition course and cookbooks for your bird’s healthiest diet and lifestyle.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.