African Greys are among the smartest birds in the animal kingdom. When people think of “talking parrots” they are most usually thinking of the African Grey. These birds are considered to be one of the most talented talkers in the parrot family and can learn to say hundreds of words and phrases. They have been known to pick up commonly used phrases (don’t say any swear words around them! Watch your mouth!) Not only that but they can even copy sounds like laugh tracks on sitcoms, which can result in a pet parrot “laughing” at television and films. Or sounds such as phones ringing, alarms going off, and even the sound of a toilet flushing. And they do know what their words mean. They can use words in context, such as saying “hello” when someone enters the room, or “goodbye” when they leave. They have great memories and can remember words and phrases for years. They can also solve problems and can learn to open doors, drawers, or even solve puzzles.
The African Grey parrot is considered “vulnerable” by conservationist groups, and while they have become popular pets in the United States and Europe, there are strict rules governing the trade and sale of these magnificent birds.
With a mostly vegetarian diet of fruits, seeds nuts or whatever leafy greenery is around, they have also been observed eating small insects or snails.
Amazingly, greys live up to sixty years or more, with some unconfirmed reports of these brilliant birds living far longer. Of the two major subspecies, the more common and larger Congo African Grey Parrot averages 13 inches in length (33cm). The smaller subspecies is the Timneh African Grey Parrot. They both live naturally mostly in the dense jungles of central Africa – and less so near the mid western coast. Because of their longevity and intelligence, these birds have not only been popular as pets in the recent past, but it is said that King Henry VIII as well as many notable ancient Greeks and Romans kept these parrots as pets.