advice on buying an african grey

by Geraldeen
(Rochester, Kent, UK)

Dear Expert, I would love to purchase an African Grey parrot but am concerned that I may not have enough knowledge to keep him/her happy and safe.

My sister owns 2 African greys so I can get alot of advice based on her expertise and experiece but I would appreciate a professional's insight and advice, particularly regarding the choice of an African Grey. I have been advised to buy a baby which I am happy to do but have been offered a 12mnth-old-bird for free as their owner cannot look after it. What would I be looking for in either case and what size cage?

What are their favourite toys, foods etc Do they like to be handled much in the early days or should they be left to settle ?

How is the best way to bond and how long should I take off work to allow the bird to get accustomed to its new home and me?

Is it ok to work full time and have a parrot, as I would worry it would get lonely during the day?
Also I have a large family and alot of friends who visit frequently and would like to know how to ensure the bird would feel safe and happy with frequent visitors and activity.

I appreciate your advice tips and sharing your knowledge.

Kind regards,


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Apr 04, 2010
advice on buying an african grey
by: Linda

Geraldeen, thanks for writing, and parrot choice is something very personal, and individual. Since your sister already has the Greys, and you have been around them some, base your decision on how you feel about them. Your Grey will be very similar as far as basic behavior is concerned. I hope you take the 12 month old one as it sounds like he may be in trouble at his present home and is still only a baby in that they live up to 75 years. Most people buy parrots on impulse and then the bird AND the people are miserable once they understand the work having a parrot entails. The Greys also have what is called feather down dust that coats everything and has to be cleaned often. It is a result of their kind of chalky feathers breaking down and creates a very fine, pasty dust that is bad for anyone with breathing problems of any kind. This is also true for the Cockatoos, Cockatiels, and most of the birds from that part of the world.

Cage size should be as large a cage as you can afford, and I recommend a nice roomy Amazon cage with the swivel-out cups. Always use natural branch wood perches, and those can be found in pet store where you buy cage. When buying the cage, make sure the powder-coat paint or base metal has no lead or zinc as both poison birds. A lot of cages are made in China, and the good companies have lead and zinc testing done here, and results are on file at whichever lab did the tests. Your store clerk can find this information for you by contacting the manufacturer. The light colored cages like silver, white and brass will be very high in zinc, so stay away from them. A Grey would look beautiful in a black cage.

First thing you need to do soon as you have your bird is to take him to Avian Vet right away. Birds in pet stores are usually already sick, and the 12-month old may have been neglected and could also be sick with bacterial infections. Make sure the Avian Vet checkup is the first thing you do with your new bird to make sure he is in good health at the beginning. Feed an organic, high quality pelleted diet, and Tracie carries several kinds out here. The change from seeds to pellets takes some time and here is article about how to go about it:
Switching Birds to Pellets article
If this were me, I'd meet the 12 month old Grey and see how he is with people. Lots of people frighten birds at first, and DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO HANDLE HIM WITHOUT YOU SUPERVISING AS PARROTS DO NOT LIKE ALL PEOPLE. THEY ARE VERY AFRAID OF SMALL CHILDREN, SO KEEP THEM AWAY FROM HIM ALTOGETHER. A child 8-10 years old could be taught how to handle him properly. Do lots of reading about your bird and parrots in general. Alone all day will NOT be good for him either, so you may wish to also get a companion for him to keep in a separate cage. DO NOT PUT THEM TOGETHER AND ALWAYS SUPERVISE WHEN THEY ARE OUT OF CAGE.


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