Congo African Grey

Congo African Grey

Scientific Name:  Psittacus erithacus
Origin:  Western and Central Africa
Average Lifespan:  15 to 40 years
Size: Up to 13 inches
Color:  Mainly grey
Sounds: Vocal communicator, chatterer
Interaction:  Social

Congo African Grey Parrot

Photo: Venture Vancouver| Flickr

Physical Characteristics of the Congo African Grey

The Congo African Grey Parrot is an old parrot under the Psittacidae species.  It is medium-sized, weighs 400 grams and the length of approximately 13 inches with an average wingspan of 18 to 20 inches.  It is predominantly grey, with its color playing from lighter grey to darker grey, and has black bill.  Some of its breed have slight white edges in their head and body feathers.  Interestingly, it has a striking red tail feathers.

It may live up to 40 years in captivity, depending on how it is being cared for.  Congo African Grey is medium in terms of size and a dusty looking bird due to its primary shading which can be compared to a pigeon. A closer look reveals a bright red tail, intelligent eyes with orange color, and an amazing scalloped pattern scattered throughout its plumage.  It is one of the most talented talking or mimicking birds, which makes it one of the most sought-after pet birds.  It is highly intelligent and interacts with humans.

Personality and Temperament

Because of its unique ability to mimic human speech and other sounds, the Congo African Grey is usually kept by humans as a companion parrot.  It reaches full “talking ability” starting from one-year old.  It is a highly intelligent pet bird and requires constant attention and interaction with humans, otherwise, they become distressed.  Some of the symptoms that your pet bird is depressed are feather plucking, chewing of feathers and other bad habits, all of which should be addressed immediately.

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Due to its high intelligence, it is sometimes used as subjects for experiments.  Studies revealed that this bird can associate human voice with those of humans’ faces, differing between objects, colors, materials and shapes.  Though it is charming and brilliant bird, it could be highly sensitive and can be demanding at times.  It does not adapt to change easily and even a slight change in their routine could make them quite unhappy.   In some cases, it may become a “one-person” bird and approaches and interacts only with its favorite human.

In order to address these problems, owners should see to it that it is given ample attention, care and love.

Health and Care

The Congo African Grey’s diet consists mostly of fruits, parrot seeds, and nuts.  It prefers oil from the fruit of the palm and they also love flowers and barks of trees. They also munch on insects.  In its natural habitat, these birds primarily feed on the ground.  In captivity, however, it can be fed with sunflower seeds for minerals and some fats needed, bird pellets which are specially formulated, and different fruit types they like including pears, oranges, apple, pomegranate and bananas too.  Vegetables also make up their diet and these veggies include carrots, celery, kale, cooked sweet potatoes, green beans and peas.  It also needs high calcium based bird vitamins which are available in pet shops.  Needless to say, it should be provided with an unlimited supply of fresh water placed in a bird dish.  Its food and water should be replenished every day to ensure that the pet is in excellent health condition.

History and Background

Humans are considered as the most threat to these wild Congo African Grey Parrots’ population by far.  Between the years 1994 to 2003, there are around 359,000 Congo African Grey being traded in the international marketplace and around 21 percent of their population are harvested yearly.

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It is hunted for meat and some of its body parts are applied and used by some people as traditional medicine.  Another problem is that this species is continuously fighting is habitat loss, thus, it is believed that the population is in rapid decline in terms of its numbers and because of this it has been labelled as vulnerable species by IUCN.

Fortunately, CITES, (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Fauna and Flora) has extended their campaigns and programs to highly protect the Congo African Grey Parrot by including the species at the top priority, thereby banning global as well as domestic trading.  Today, the Congo African Grey has been thriving in number both in the wild and in captivity.

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