- 1 The African Grey Parrot Talking Language
- 2 Baby African Grey Parrot (Tips for Buying African Grey Parrots)
- 3 African Grey Parrot Cage: Choosing the right one
- 4 Get The Right Perch For African Grey Parrot Cage
- 5 Seizures in Parrots and their Causes
- 6 African Grey Feather Plucking And Other Feather Disorders
- 7 Will Clipping Wings Stop Your African Grey Parrot Talking?
There are two subspecis of african grey parrot. There is the Red-tailed Grey, sometimes called the Congo African Grey and the smaller parrot called the Timneh African Grey. Both of these parrots have red tail feathers but the smaller Timneh African Grey’s tail feathers have a darker, almost maroon appearance. Both of these parrots produce a fine powder like down, called dander, for preening. Both also have the same talking ability including being able to mimic and string words together logically. These parrots don’t only just mimic speech. They will pick up any sound that takes their fancy. Don’t be surprised when your telephone “rings” and then stops before you get there. It just might be your African Grey parrot.
Parrots in general do not have vocal chords so how do they speak? We, as humans, can produce sound by blowing across the top of a bottle and when you hear your african grey parrot talking this is more or less how he parrot talks. By forcing air across the top of his trachea your parrot can produce sound. He can vary the sound produced by changing the shape of his trachea. This obviously takes quite a bit of practice on the part of your bird. This is why you will often hear your bird muttering or babbling away to himself in his cage until he is confident enough of the sound he his producing to say it out loud. You will generally, however, only hear your african grey parrot talking when he is about a year old.
It is one of the most amazing things when you first hear your african grey parrot talking. Not only because the words are intelligible but also because the bird does a very good job of mimicing your voice as well. It shouldn’t really be all that surprising as the african grey parrot is highly intelligent and has had a reputation for hundreds of years of being able to repeat words. Some have been recorded with a vocabluary of almost six hundred words. There are times when you hear your african grey parrot talking that you would swear blind that your bird actually understands what he is saying. And not without good reason either. African grey parrots are in fact able to string words together in a coherent fashion because they do have a certain level of understanding.
It must still be remembered however that no matter how well spoken your bird is or how tame he appears to be your parrot is still very much a wild creature. At most your African Grey is only two generations from the wild. Most of his behaviors will be motivated by a sense of wanting to belong. In the wild safety is found in being a member of a larger group, a flock. As he no longer has a flock of birds to which he belongs you and your family are now his flock and he will look to you for all his needs.
African Greys can be very demanding creatures and will take a lot of your time if you are to look after one as it should be looked after. They crave attention, just like a child, and can be just as demanding, annoying and noisy until they get it. Think carefully before committing yourself to one, especially as they can live for more than fifty years.
But if you put the time and effort in they can make fantastic pets. And when you hear your African Grey Parrot talking you will always be amazed.
The African Grey Parrot Talking Language
Your african grey has a language. Just listen to your African grey parrot talking and you will not only hear the African grey parrot talking language but you will see it as well.
Ever watch your parrot raise his feathers then lie them down flat again,or bob his head several times or walk strangely towards you? This is all part and parcel of your African grey parrot talking. It is all part of the African grey parrot talking language.
Each of these actions have a meaning. And you can learn each behaviour to better understand your bird.
Each species of animal has its own language and male behaviours may differ from female behaviours. The same with the birds age, babies might do things that they grow out of.
The study of the the animals behaviour is Ethology. You should study your birds actions to see if he is mimmicing something in his surroundings or if its done because he learnt it from his parents as a baby. Once you know what aggressive behaviour is you will know to back away, but if it’s confident behaviour you can move towards him and cuddle him. Understanding the African grey parrot talking language can help you avoid a few sharp bites. I am going to list a few behaviours that will help you understand your grey… watch for them and see if your parrot uses them.
- Clicking. If your bird clicks with his beak 4 or 5 times then know that he is irritated with something. Don’t interupt what he is doing and move away before he bites you.
- Drawing. This is when the bird rubs each side of his beak up and down along something, this is often seen in happy contented birds, full of confidence at what is going on.
- Fear Stance. Your bird will stand up as straight as he can with his wings slightly away from his body and his eyes darting from side to side. Look around his surroundings and see what he is scared or frightened of.
- The growl. This also is a fear response to something in his surroundings. The growl will be continuous and his feathers will be held tightly against him.
- Head pumping ( bobbing ). The bird will bob his head 5 or 6 times while keeping his body still. Take care with this one as he is about to bite. Dont mistake it for “give-me-a-scratch”.
- Rasping. This happens when the bottom beak is being rubbed along the top beak. Each rasp lasts about a secong and then there is a space then another rub. Most birds do this when they are about to go to sleep, they are feeling safe and secure and content.
- Scratch request. Your birds head will be lowered and brought forward towards you. Some head and neck feathers might be raised and his eyes almost closed. Your bird bird will stand very still. This all means he is ready for a scratch and a cuddle, and you can proceed safely your bird is very content in your company.
These are only a few, but watch for them – it will help you understand your bird better, nearly all African grey parrots will do these actions from babies to adult birds. Hearing and seeing your African grey parrot talking will deepen your relationship with your bird.
Enjoy watching your bird for his action language and remember the ones I have mentioned.
Baby African Grey Parrot (Tips for Buying African Grey Parrots)
Buying and keeping a baby African Grey parrot can be expensive so it is important that you get a really good specimen. The following points will help to ensure you get just that.
When choosing your baby African Grey parrot consider the following:
- •If you want to hear your African grey parrot talking buy from a reputable breeder, not just from the pet store. If you have found your parrot in a pet store ask the owner or shop manager where the parrot came from. Ask for details of the breeder. Try and check their record as a breeder. Ask for references. Don’t let them get away with vague answers. You want to make sure your parrot has come from someone who knows what they are doing and who is reputable. And reputable sellers will give you all the information they can.
- You should make sure you get a written certificate of health for your bird from the breeder. Healthy and happy birds are talkative birds so if you would like to hear your African grey parrot talking make sure you get a first class bird.
- Baby Greys love to be cuddled so when you go to choose one and there are several babies there they will all want your attention. There will always be one who catches your eye and this could be the one for you.
- Your baby parrot should be fully weaned before he goes home with you but it is a good idea to continue giving him porridge as part of his diet as this makes it easier to give medicine if required.
- Baby Greys should be round and fluffy in appearance, not thin. You should also be given your baby’s hatch date so you will know how old he is and when his birthday is. Eyes should appear watchful, black and round. Nostrils should be clear of any discharge. A discharge is not a good sign and you would be well advised to steer clear of any birds that show signs of one. The beak should fit together well with no sign of any deformities. Your birds feet should have 2 toes pointing forwards and 1 back. There should be no faeces crusted around the vent and droppings should be watery and loose. Feathers should be uniformly shaped and in good condition.
- Having chosen your baby and taken him home it’s a good idea to have your avian vet check him out just to be safe.
- Ensure you have placed his cage in a suitable place in your home, somewhere he can see what is going on and be a part of the action. Have some bird toys in his cage for when he arrives home along with some food and water. Once he settles and is happy it shouldn’t be too long befroe you hear your African grey parrot talking.
- It is also a good idea to have a sleeping cover made for his cage. This should be made of a dark material to keep the light out whilst you and your family are still up. Alternatively if you have the space you could create a separate sleeping area for your bird in another room. Your baby African Grey parrot needs 12 hours sleep and a sleeping cover for his cage can help you to ensure this happens.
Parrots make fantastic pets and providing all goes well it shouldn’t be too long before you hear the pleasiing sounds of your African grey parrot talking. Choosing a baby African Grey parrot is just the first step in what should be a long journey. Parrots can live for more than 50 years so choose your bird wisely.
African Grey Parrot Cage: Choosing the right one
The Cage Needs To Be The Right Size
An African Grey Parrot is normally quite an expensive pet unless you have been lucky enough to have been given one and you should therefore make sure your house your bird in the correct sized African Grey parrot cage.
A parrot cage is probably the single most expensive item you will ever need to buy for your pet bird, whether you buy the right one or not. So it makes sense to buy the correct size and type of cage for your bird first off. A happy bird is a talking bird so if you would like to hear your African grey parrot talking ensure you get the right cage.
Below you will find some tips that will help you to ensure you get the right cage for your bird.
- The african grey parrot cage should have a flat top. This will allow your bird to walk on it as well as play up there. Dome shaped cages look really good but are not practical. Your bird needs as much roaming space as possible and if you are going to let him out of his cage he needs to be able to explore all over it. Your bird would not be able to climb all over a dome shaped cage and would be limited to clinging to the sides of the cage which would not be very good for him.
- In order to keep muscle tone your parrot needs to be able to stretch and flap his wings from time to time. To do this the cage will need to be big enough to allow him to stretch his wings to their fullest extent and flap them without there being any chance of his feathers or wings getting caught in the bars of the cage.
- The food dishes need to be situated nearer to the top of the cage than the bottom so your bird does not “poop” in them. You also need to have good access to them from outside the cage to allow you to change them without a hassle.
- In addition to being big enough to allow your bird to stretch his wings there also needs to be sufficient space to allow you to put a few bird toys in the cage. Parrots are highly intelligent creatures and need constant stimulation. Placing bird toys in the cage will keep your bird occupied whilst you are not available for him.
Most cages will come with wooden dowelling perches. These are not good for your bird’s feet and should be changed for more natural perches. Once you have the cage at home cut suitable sized small branches from a tree in your garden or neighborhood and fit them into your cage. Natural perches like these will exercise your birds feet better than dowelling would. There is the added advantage for your bird of being able to tear apart the bark which will keep his beak in good condition as well.
Bird toys should be placed well away from the food dishes but remember your bird needs to stretch his wings so don’t put too many toys in. As parrots in general become bored quite easily rotate his toys to keep him interested. Bored parrots are not happy parrots so if you want to hear your African grey parrot talking you need to keep him occupied and happy.
Your African Grey parrot cage should be placed out of the way of drafts and high traffic areas. Make sure the cage is placed high enough for you to be eye to eye with your bird, but no higher or you may have some dominance issues to sort out with your bird which may require the services of a bird behavior specialist.
Get The Right Perch For African Grey Parrot Cage
When you buy your bird cage it will probably come with wooden doweling perches. These are not satisfactory as an African grey parrot perch. There will probably be two and you need to change them for natural home cut perches as soon as you can.
Have a look around your garden or local park for natural perches. The African grey parrot perch shouldn’t consist of just horizontal bits of wood. A horizontal perch can go in front of the food trays but the others should be exciting shapes and sizes. If you don’t have any in your own garden perhaps a friend has a few branches you can have. You won’t hear your African grey parrot talking if he is not happy with his cage.
Wild birds don’t always land on horizontal branches, they also go for vertical ones and ones of differing sizes as well. We should try and do the same in our cages and aviaries. Perches cut from trees are good for your bird’s feet, it keeps them exercised at the same time as keeping the toe nails in good condition.
Perches from the garden can be stripped of their bark which is not only fun for your bird but good for keeping his beak in great condition. Home cut branches can be chewed and stripped by your bird. This also helps to keep your bird from feeling bored and plucking his feathers. Bored birds are unhappy birds. If you plan on listening to your African grey parrot talking try and keep him as happy as possible.
There are cement perches being sold in pet shops. These also are not satisfactory as an African grey parrot perch as they are cold and hard and not much fun for your bird. Pet shops also sell sandpaper to cover the wooden doweling perches to keep nails short and in good condition. These are not recommended for use as an African grey parrot perch – can you imagine walking around on sandpaper all day? Would that encourage you to be vocal? Why then put your bird through this? If you want to hear your African grey parrot talking try and make him as comfortable as possible.
Make your bird cage or aviary bird friendly by using a little imagination in cutting different sizes and shapes of branches. With minimal effort you can make your bird’s life so much more interesting and exciting so give it a go. Your bird will love you for it.
Seizures in Parrots and their Causes
A seizure is best described as a sudden loss of consciousness and a loss of mobility. They can be mild to severe; whether mild or severe your parrot will need to see an avian vet as soon as possible. The vet should do a complete blood work up, and x ray and a radiograph.
Here’s what you should look for if you think that your bird is having seizures.
- Your bird might become uncontrollably vocal.
- He may lose temporary consciousness.
- He may fall of his perch.
- He may flap his wings uncontrollably
- His body might become very stiff.
There are many causes of seizures in birds, ranging from lead and zinc poisoning, to brain tumors. If there has been a trauma to the brain from flying into something hard at high speed. If there is liver damage from being fed a seed only diet. Some insecticides that we use in our homes can cause seizures. Infections from chewed off feathers can cause seizures. This is why the avian vet needs to do a complete and thorough examination. Most birds will recover from a seizure quite quickly so be watchful if you think that your bird is having seizures.
African Grey Parrots fed on a seed only diet can suffer from hypocalcaemia; this is a lack of calcium and vitamin D3. This is easily treatable by rectifying the bird’s diet, by introducing fresh fruit and vegetables in his food, Calcium can also be added to drinking water Hypocalcaemia can cause seizures.
Whatever the vet finds needs to be treated. If it’s an infection, your bird will need antibiotics, if its hypocalcaemia it will need calcium and a change of diet. If its hypoglycemia it will need sugar. Birds that have head trauma or brain damage due to a tumor may need surgery which hopefully the vet can perform. Until the treatment has taken effect your vet may suggest Valium being added to its cereal dish.
Remember to be supportive by offering warmth, quiet, and somewhere safe to stay. Keep a good supply of clean water in his cage and offer him a good nutritious diet.
Seizures are treatable with medication so don’t immediately think that the bird needs to be put out of its misery by putting it to sleep. Although in some cases this may be suggested by the vet in the case of trauma or tumors. It’s a difficult decision so weigh up the pros and cons carefully and do the very best for your bird.
African Grey Feather Plucking And Other Feather Disorders
African Grey feather plucking is generally due to some form of stress your parrot may be suffering from. All birds molt and lose feathers. This is quite normal and not a cause for concern. It is the natural way of replacing old feathers with new ones. Feathers can however become damaged or lost for reasons that should give cause for concern. Listen to your African grey parrot talking and watch his body language closely. Doing this can give you clues as to why your bird may be plucking his own feathers.
When your bird shows signs of having feathers, that it cannot get to, looking like they have been chewed the cause is generally another bird. So if your parrot is sharing space with another the chances are it is the second or another, if you have more than two birds, bird that is causing the damage. These birds should be separated, particularly the one that is being chewed.
Parrots can also chew their own feathers. This is often a progressive thing and it may be a long time before you actually notice it. The first sign of this kind of damage is often the sight of whats left of the feather barbs floating in the water dish or lying on the bottom of the cage. This kind of damage is often known as over preening and comes about when the bird thinks its owner is the only fun toy available. Waiting for its owner the bird will ignore any toys placed in its cage and instead preen itself in expectation of the owner arriving to play with it.
Baby African Grey parrots may chew their feathers before the first molt. This may be because they are dirty or damaged and should not be a cause for concern. But watch it carefully in case it develops into something else.
If you wake up one morning and go to your parrots cage and find a whole lot of feathers on the floor of the cage it may be because during the night your bird has had one heck of a fright. African Grey parrots in addition to being highly intelligent are highly sensitive and sometimes become frightened in the dark.
This can result in your bird losing all his tail feathers and possibly some of the wing ones as well.
Feather snapping is not uncommon amongst African grey parrots. Feathers are snapped off at the shaft and most frequentlt it is the tail and wing feathers that are the most affected. Being snapped off at the shaft means the skin of the bird is not injured and infection therefore is not really a risk so there is no need for alarm.
Feather plucking is much more serious because the feathers are actually pulled from the skin. Infection can quickly set in so it is important you get your bird seen by an avian vet as soon as possible. There are several possible causes for feather plucking with stress being the main one.
You need to have a look at your bird’s cage. Is it big enough? Is it in the right place? Is it at the right height? Does your bird have enough toys to play with? Do you give him enough attention or is he shut away in his cage and left to his own devices – a sure recipe for disaster. What about his food, lighting etc?. There are many factors to consider and talking to your vet may help as well.
African Grey feather plucking can also be caused by certain diseases. You avian vet will be able to diagnose the problem and whilst he may find and treat the physical problem there will still be an emotional cause as well which will need to be dealt with.
Will Clipping Wings Stop Your African Grey Parrot Talking?
African grey parrot wing clipping – should you or shouldn’t you? Firstly Let me say there are 2 schools of thought here. one is that it is cruel to clip wings when a bird is meant to fly and the other that wing clipped birds are safer in our homes. You must make up your own mind which way you want to go.
For me having a Grey with clipped wings is better for the bird and for me.
Lets look at the good reasons for clipping.
- Clipped wing birds can’t fly into ceiling fans, fish tanks or out of an open window. So for safety and loss it is wise to clip wings.
- Clipped wing birds are easier to train because they stay in one place for long enough to be able to be trained.
- Clipped wing birds are more likely to stay where they are put, on a chair in the kitchen, while you prepare the supper, a play gym, a chair in the bathroom while you are taking a bath, wherever.
- Clipped wing birds tend to do less damage in our homes, they can’t get to places where interesting chewable things can be found. My parrot can’t get to my precious pictures and photo frames, which is good for him, and for me !
There are other things to take into consideration too :
- Baby birds should never be clipped before they learn to fly, flying gives them confidence to do other things.
- Clip your birds wings when he can get more than a few feet from where he is perched.
- Have a professional clip your birds wings, only if you are totally confident that you will give a good cut should you do it yourself.
- Remember to encourage your bird to flap his wings at every possible chance. If he is on your hand move it up and down. This will help keep chest muscles and wings healthy and strong.
Remember feathers will grow back at each molt, about every 6 months, so be watchful of how far your bird can go once he has taken off.
If at any time you change your mind and want your bird to be flighted, you wont have too long to wait before the feathers grow back and if you find that a flighted bird is just too much for you, you can clip straight away.
When considering African grey parrot wing clipping remember only a conservative clip is needed. They prefer climbing and swinging , walking and playing.
Make up your own mind and remember you can always change your mind, clipping doesnt hurt the bird, its like having a hair cut.