The African Grey Parrot

African Greys are the most intelligent and talkative pet birds

The African Grey Parrot is probably the most popular pet bird and is known to be the most intelligent and the most talkative of the parrot family.

African Greys are excellent companions and will keep you on your toes. Not only can Greys learn a large vocabulary (some more than 1,500 words!), but they can learn how to speak in different voices. I have known African Greys that sound exactly like their owners and are able to successfully call the dog and even trick them into thinking the sliding glass door has just opened because of their unbelievable sound imitating abilities.

African Greys tend to be one-person birds, so it is important to socialize them with more people on a regular basis. Greys need plenty of interaction and things to do. Many become feather pluckers simply out of boredom. These pet birds need good mental stimulation, so providing them with plenty of puzzle-like and interactive toys is a must. Teaching them tricks is another good way to stimulate their smart little minds.

African Grey Parrot Species

There are two popular African Grey subspecies:

There aren’t really any differences between these two subspecies other than the way they look. Congos are the more popular of the two, but are said to be more high strung. Some people believe that Timnehs make better pets. I personally think this depends on each individual bird, so I encourage you to interact with a few African Greys and see for yourself.

Fast Facts

Name African Grey (Psittacus erithacus erithacus (Congo)) (Psittacus erithacus timneh (Timneh))
Origin Africa
Size Congos: 12-14″, 400-650 grams; Timnehs: 11-13″, 275-400 grams
Color Differences Congo greys are silver or light grey with bright red tail feathers and black beaks while timnehs are smaller and a dark charcoal color with maroonish tail feathers and a reddish cast to their beaks.
Owner African Greys require an experienced owner.
Average Cost $600-2000
Lifespan An average of 50 years
Noise African Greys are relatively quiet–they are not known to scream. For this reason, they are fine to keep in an apartment.
Qualities Great talkers, can imitate voices and sounds, very intelligent, highly tuned in to owners’ moods, known to be able to use speech in context, can be high strung and nervous (so you may need to be careful when introducing new toys or surroundings), not great for a household with young children (older children ok), tend to be a one-person bird unless well socialized, need an owner that is gentle, patient, and attuned to their needs, males can be more aggressive than females, can become feather pluckers out of boredom.
Abilities Excellent – Known for their talking abilities. African Greys are capable of learning a large vocabulary (some as much as 1,500 words!) as well as speaking in different voices and some use words in context.
Interaction/Time Requirements African Greys need daily interaction as well as socialization with other people (or they may become a one-person bird).
Diet They need a diet for large birds.
Supplies Needed They need supplies for large birds.
See How African Grey Parrots Compare to Other Types of Pet Birds!

African Grey Videos

“*Einstein the famous talking African Grey Parrot!*”

African Greys are truly amazing parrots. They are the most popular parrots seen on television and in animal shows. This video is a great example of how intelligent and entertaining they can be!

“Amazing Talking One Year Old Congo African Gray!”

This video shows how Congos can learn to talk very well at a very young age!

“Tui the African Grey has a Tantrum”

African Greys are not only talented in studies, but also as pets. This humorous video shows the vast vocabulary (and accurate voices!) that African Greys can have. It also shows that these parrots can very likely understand what they are saying.

African Grey Training

African Greys have a habit of becoming very aggressive and sensitive birds, so it is important to train them correctly right from the beginning. African Greys can be fantastic companions. They are caring, loving, and they can become very attached. However, if not properly trained, they can be very nervous and may never want to leave their cage.

For this reason, we highly recommend that you find an effective training program for your Grey. Whether your parrot is new to your home or you’ve had him for years, a training program will always come in handy. We personally recommend the Bird Tricks Parrot Training Course by Dave and Jamieleigh Womach. You can see many of their videos for free to get an idea of how much they know about parrots and how they can help you train yours.

Below is one of Dave’s videos about stopping your African Grey’s biting. This video is a great example of how effective the training courses can be and how they are filled with a wealth of useful information for any bird owner.

This video is only the first step in getting your African Grey hand tamed. We highly recommend checking out the BirdTricks Training Course for taming your parrot even further.

For more information about Dave and Jamieleigh’s courses, you can visit the Bird Tricks website HERE.

African Grey Education

To learn more about your pet African Grey, we recommend these books:

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African Grey Gifts

Have a friend of family member who loves African Greys? Gift them something that will truly spark joy!

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Have A Great Story About Your African Grey?

Share your experience with others! There’s no better way to learn about a pet bird than from an owner.

Some helpful information for potential owners can be: What is the species of your bird? Is he/she friendly? Loving? Cuddly? Talented? Messy? Loud? You get the idea!

Your comment may just help someone decide whether or not this pet bird is for them.

28 replies
  1. Ann Lorraine Knowles
    Ann Lorraine Knowles says:

    I have recently been given a Timmah African gray. he had his feet chewed off as a baby though one foot still has a good portion of the foot with two stubs he is approx. 11 years old. His first home was with inexperienced owners who through declining health surrendered him. He was kept in a small cage 18×18 and used his wings to help climb and they became torn up over time. the next owner kept him in a large fish tank his wings healed but he was still a little aggressive and for a number of years he was never handled. He was then given to me making my fifth special needs rescue bird.. He is adorable but never trained. It seems hands where used always as he hates them and given any opportunity will grab one and hang on. same as feet he will throw himself on your foot and grab and hold onto what ever his beak clamps onto and hangs on. So he doesn’t understand step up and because of his finger fear have trained him to climb into a box and carry him and return him to his special made cage works well for now. If he climbs up on me he is delightful and will snuggle in my arms and stay for hours so long as my fingers are covered or kept out of reach. he will let ne scratch and pet him but I have to be careful to watch him incase he seizes a moment to chomp and hold on. I have almost trained him out of attacking feet though my husband still doesn’t trust him and says he’s unreliable. He can stand on perches that are thicker but has poor balance. His wings have been kept trimmed so he cant fly though I want to let them grow. He is currently housed in an adapted ferret cage which seems to work well. he doesn’t know how to play with toys if left on the floor will just follow me around and hover at my feet and will no longer attack them thank goodness. I would like help though or any tips on training and management. He loves to climb his footless leg he will thrust through the bars to hang on his cage has a floor in the middle so if he slips or falls it is only a small one and wont hurt him self I am teaching him to step up from our table top when my arm is level with him. His aggression has subsided substantially but would like to teach him more and allow him to fly any help is very welcomed

    • Ccg
      Ccg says:

      Go watch Bird Tricks videos on YouTube. They have MANY training videos. They will also do video consultation to help you with your specific bird. That is AMAZING you have rescued so many birds and have been able to give them a great life! Bless you!

  2. Brenda. Wade
    Brenda. Wade says:

    I’m. Looking for. Me. A. Mother. Bridget. Because. Mind. Die. And. It. Hurt me so. Bad. I. Had. Him. For. 8. Year. And. Now. I’m. Wanted. A. Portrait. NW. Here. waeIs. My name Brenda w

  3. Abinaya
    Abinaya says:

    Hi, I would love to have an African Grey with me for such a long time. I am afraid that its written, its not suitable for untrained owners. Is it so? I have had Love birds as a kid atleast 20 of them…..Is that knowledge enough or should i do something else before buying one? I dont want to torture the bird after buying it without enough knowledge. Can anyone have any sort of advice….

  4. Banire oluwabukola
    Banire oluwabukola says:

    my bird is sick looking weak easily fall off from its hang toy cage, cant stand well and also having leg crowns. please advise me what to do I don’t want the bird die pls.

    • All Pet Birds
      All Pet Birds says:

      You need to take your bird to the vet immediately. Do not wait – go now. Your bird is very very sick and needs a medical evaluation and treatment right away.

  5. Cheryl L Hipperson
    Cheryl L Hipperson says:

    I have a Congo African Grey Parrot named Bingo. Bingo and I have been together for 11 years. Bingo was born in 2000 and is about 11 years old (about the age of a human teenager). I always believed that Bingo and I would grow old together. Bingo is my best friend. I am going to loose my home this month and I need to find Bingo someone who will love him as much as I do. Please email me if you know of someone.

    • norma summers
      norma summers says:

      I am so very sorry. I have a four year old male that may never forgive me if I adopt another—but the breeder that I was fortunate enough to acquire him from might well be able to place Bingo. (Tony and Patty in Tampa, Florida)

      I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am. My Congo is my baby.

      My best wishes–truly, Norma

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      I hope things are working out well for you. Losing a pet is never easy, especially in the sort of circumstances you’re in.. I wish both you and Bingo the best.

    • Linda Madden
      Linda Madden says:

      Hi Cheryl. Have you found a home for Bingo yet? My bird April ( we were both born on April 1) just passed away and I am overwrought with loss. He was my baby and best friend. If Bingo is truly a wonderful bird, I would consider myself very fortunate to to take him for you and would do everything possible to make him happy. Please let me know if you might be interested. Thank you.

    • STEVE Ward
      STEVE Ward says:

      Hello Sharon I am sorry to hear about your home I would love to adopt your African Grey if you’re willing I’m not sure where you are at I am in Gastonia North Carolina can you tell me where you are located I already had alexandrine parakeet I would love to adopt yours and I would give it a good home you can email me or text me at 704-618-3731 thank you

    • Debra Handy
      Debra Handy says:

      I am interested in Bingo. I recently had my timneh pass away after having him for 27 years. I am in Northern California located in the town of Cloverdale. I am retired, have plenty of timevfor companionship and I am not looking for a replacement but an addition in my life of a companion parrot. Please email me and I will get back to you. Many thanks, Debbie Handy

    • danielle
      danielle says:

      i would be more than happy to give him a loving stable place to live with me contact me if you are still interested in finding him a good home

    • Josh
      Josh says:

      I hope you found him a good home. I am wanting to get an African Grey soon, but I have to find somewhere to buy one from first.

    • Michelle Virgilio
      Michelle Virgilio says:

      Please let me know if you found Bingo a good home. I have been fostering birds since 2001. I’m sure you must have by now but if not let me know.

    • Michelle Virgilio
      Michelle Virgilio says:

      I have Sami I rescued him in 2002. 18 years he would talk for the past 2 years hardly ever. Before he would come out of the cage and stand behind sometimes on my head and just hang out. For the last couple of weeks he’s been acting weird. Rubbing his head against my chest and used them as a perch. Then he started kissing my face non stop and rubbing his hand on my face and neck. I was a little nervous waiting for a bite but he didn’t. Instead he threw up on me 2 times in 3 days. My concern is he is making this weird panting sound like he’s so excited and he drops his wings. Everything I read said he’s over tempted but it’s cool I’m my house. So I doubt it. Anyone have any suggestions? To let you know he is only in his cage at night. The rest of the time he’s with me. Standing next to me.

  6. miki
    miki says:

    Aziza, my 7 year old pet Congo African Grey, is wonderful. She talks a blue streak, whistles (she even whistles the Jet gang whistle from West Side Story!), and she hoots when she wants my attention and can’t give it to her right at the moment. She’s a fantastic companion, and I can’t imagine living without her.

  7. Bess Councill
    Bess Councill says:

    What do I do when our African grey lays an egg several years apart ? Should I remove the egg immediately? Thank you.

  8. Doug Everitt (Canada)
    Doug Everitt (Canada) says:

    My girlfriend used to be the one our Congo African grey would regurgitate with but now he does it with me! He’s a little shy and aggressive when out of his cage and can be territorial with strangers but our Congo African grey age 17 is my best buddy and I love the heck outta him.

  9. Peter Legg (London, England)
    Peter Legg (London, England) says:

    We got Cookie earlier this year. She’s a flipping brilliant, loving bird and we’re proud to have her as part of our family. She’s good with all the family, she says MUM, What Your Name, You like SWEETS, ello, cookie, and you’re a good girl. She does our home phone ring tone, cat noises meow, she laughs, and she copies my little brother Billy’s scream.

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    So I rarely ever put my Timneh African Grey in her cage. One night, I was watching TV with her next to my bed and fell asleep. About an hour later, I got woken up by June standing right in my face saying “What ya doin’? Huh? What ya doin’?” and making kissing noises.

    I told her I’m sleeping and moved her away from my face. She kept coming back and asking the same question. She had never said that phrase before. This just goes to show how smart Greys are and that they are always learning from their owners.


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