The grey parrot species of parrot characterized by distinctive scalloped gray plumage.
It is also known as the Congo grey parrot, Congo African grey parrot or African grey parrot.
The species seems to favor dense forests, but can also be found at forest edges and in more open vegetation types, such as gallery and savanna forests.
The lifespan for grey parrots is about 23 years in the wild, and from 40 to 60 years in captivity.
The grey parrot is a medium-sized, predominantly grey, black-billed parrot.
Its typical weight is 400 g (0.88 lb), with an approximate length of 33 cm (13 in), and a wingspan of 46–52 cm (18–20 in).
It has darker grey than its body over the head and both wings. The head and body feathers have slight white edges. The tail feathers are red. The beak is black or gray. The face is covered in bare white skin that may blush when the bird is agitated. The iris of the eye is black upon hatching and lightens to yellowish silver as the bird matures.
They are mostly frugivorous, most of their diet consists of fruit, nuts, and seeds. The species prefers oil palm fruit and they eat flowers and tree bark, as well as insects and snails. Grey parrots also descends to the ground to ingest clay and soil, probably for nutrients and antiparasitic compounds.
In captivity, they may be fed bird pellets, a variety of fruits such as pear, orange, pomegranate, apple, and banana, and vegetables such as carrot, cooked sweet potato, celery, fresh kale, peas, and green beans. They also need a source of calcium.
Wild grey parrots are very shy and rarely allow humans to approach them.
They are highly social and nest in large groups, although family groups occupy their own nesting tree. They are often observed roosting in large, noisy flocks calling loudly during mornings and evenings and in flight.
Grey parrot flocks are composed of only grey parrots, unlike other parrots that are often found in mixed flocks. During the day, they break into smaller flocks and fly long distances to forage.
Wild grey parrots may imitate a wide variety of the sounds they hear, much like their captive relatives. Two wild grey parrots were recorded while roosting in Zaire and researchers reported that they had a repertoire of over 200 different sounds, including nine imitations of other wild bird songs and one of a bat.
Grey parrots are monogamous breeders who nest in tree cavities. Each mated pair of parrots needs their own tree for their nest. The female lays three to five eggs, which she incubates for 30 days while being fed by her mate. The adults defend their nesting sites. Both parents help take care of the chicks until they can go off on their own.
Studies have found that African grey parrots have complex cognition and are considered one of the most intelligent species of animal.
Many individuals have been shown to perform at the cognitive level of a four- to six-year-old human child in some tasks. A number of studies have been conducted with African Greys, indicating a slew of higher level cognitive abilities. Experiments have shown that grey parrots can learn number sequences and can
learn to associate human voices with the faces of the humans who create them.
The American scientist Irene Pepperberg’s work with Alex the parrot showed his ability to learn more than 100 words, differentiating between objects, colours, materials, and shapes.
The species is common in captivity and regularly kept by humans as a companion parrot, prized for its ability to mimic human speech, which makes it one of the most popular avian pets.
An escaped pet in Japan was returned to his owner after repeating the owner’s name and address.