African Gray Parrot Fun Facts

African Grays are smart birds!
African Grays are smart birds!

For people who want a bird that can talk, an African Gray Parrot should be on the short list. Along with being great talkers they can also mimic other sounds from the doorbell to the dog's bark. In fact, it's not unusual for African Gray owners to answer the phone only to realize it was their bird ringing! However, there's more to these intelligent birds than their ability to mimic.

More African Gray Parrot Fun Facts

If you're considering an African Gray as a pet here are a few more African Gray Parrot fun facts:

  • African Gray Parrots can be potty trained
  • Were kept as pets in the ancient Roman Empire
  • There are two subspecies the African Gray Timneh and the African Gray Congo (African Gray Timneh is smaller)
  • They can learn hundreds of words and sounds
  • They can live for 50-65 years
  • They mate for life
  • When nesting the females sit on the eggs and the male feeds her
  • While they make great talkers, in the wild they've never been observed mimicking.
  • Is said to possess the intelligence of a 3-5 year old human
  • Show signs of being right or left "handed"

Famous African Grays

African Gray Parrots make good pets and a couple of them have become stars. The first is Alex, who learned more than 100 words and could name colors and shapes of objects, and more. His owner, Dr. Irene Pepperberg bought him as part of an animal intelligence experiment but over 30 years the two developed a deep emotional bond. His last words to Pepperberg were, "You be good. I love you." He passed away in 2007. Since then she has written about the experience in her book, Alex & Me. Pepperberg is adjunct professor at the Department of Psychology at Brandeis University and a lecturer and research associate at Harvard University.

Another well-known African Gray that has appeared on TV and performs regularly in front of live audiences at the Knoxville Zoo goes by the name Einstein. Since Einstein lives at the zoo, she knows a lot of animal sounds, but he bird knows about 70 words or sayings on cue plus a collection of others in her vocabulary.

Is an African Gray Right for You?

While African Gray Parrots are known as great talkers, overall they are relatively quiet for a parrot. On the downside, they can be temperamental and nippy. If bored, they can become feather pluckers, too. If you're looking for a companion bird you plan to spend time with, they make an excellent choice as they tend to bond to one person. Another thing to take into consideration when buying an African Gray is their longevity. Owners should make arrangements for them in their will.

More by this Author

  • Interesting Thanksgiving Day Facts
    8

    Most people know basics of the history of Thanksgiving, but you may be surprised to learn that not everyone agrees when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated or even where it was celebrated.

  • Cockatiel Babies
    18

    Baby cockatiels grow from an inch-long hatchling to adult size in just six weeks. It takes 8-10 days for their eyes to open, but the color of their eyes...even closed eyes offer a clue as to the baby's future color.

  • How to Build a Bird Cage
    4

    If you want to build a bird cage, you need a plan, materials and one more thing...a knowledge of birds and their special needs.


Comments 25 comments

Mikeal Huff 4 years ago

I've always wanted an African Grey this just makes me want one even more so, also I have seen Einstein preform before, she is actually the reason that I've always wanted one


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi Mikeal,

They are very entertaining and do make good companions if you have time to devote to them. Do you have any birds?


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

Oh, what a wonderfully informative hubs! I've never had any birds but my grandmother kept parakeets. They sound like loving, entertaining pets.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you Donna,

I never thought of birds as real pets. I thought of them like fish...pretty to look at. However, my daughter thought I'd be a "good bird person" and I started out with a pair of cockatiels. That was more than 20 years ago. My daughter was right. I am a bird person. They each have their own personality, are so entertaining, and make loving companions.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I have never tried birds though my mom always had them and I liked hers. Just seems to tie you to home or having to leave someone to go in and care for them. I am tempted though. Very interesting and useful hub, regardless.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi Jackie,

They do tie you some, but not as much as a dog or cat. No one has to let them out. :)

Donna


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I do love those big ones but I have always thought I would love a pair of love birds, they seem so sweet. I have seen some magnificent ways you can fix up a space in a room and put in a tree and screen so they have a whole wall and 4 to 6 feet out from floor to ceiling to fly and little gate to go in and clean. I would love that.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Love birds can be very affectionate, but if you get two, they often love each other instead of their owner. There are exceptions, but it is something to consider. Cockatiels make a good first bird, and they are smaller birds with big personality.


dean tiefenbach 3 years ago

having an african grey in my life for eightbyears my hart whnt out to irene m. pepperberg when i read her book alex and me.I don,t know how she ever got over is death.I don,t know how my my partner and i would cope with the losse of our african grey serena whos going to be 29 in june she speakes about 50 words and sayings and makes many sounds i can,t say she always easy to put up with when she wants to chew something theres know stoping and she dos,nt like not getting her way.Butwe would,t trade her for a million dollars .Shes more then a pet shes a member of our family.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 3 years ago from Georgia Author

I know what you mean, Dean. One of the reasons I chose a bird for a pet is for their long life. Can't imagine life with mine and I've only had him for 13 years.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Thank you, I will keep that in mind.


dean tiefenbach 2 years ago

ten months I posted that my partner and I had a 29 year old African grey named serena. This week we lost her after a short illness she had a funcus infection.Our hart are broken and we don,t know when we will recover.But I wan,t all you bird owner to know that the vet told us she was actlly 88 and not 29 because African grey age 3 years each birthday they have.This brought us some comefort but will still miss her.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Oh Dean, I'm so sorry to hear that. Birds make such great companions they really leave a big hole when they are gone. I recommend making a scrapbook of memories. Include pictures and little stories. It will help you and your partner heal plus it will give you a nice book to keep in Serena's memory.


dean tiefenbach 2 years ago

Thank you so much for your, kind words Donna. I have already written a seven page story about Serena's life and we have a picture of her on our wall I sure will include more memories thank you so much for the tip.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

You're very welcome.


Dean Tiefenbach 2 years ago

I just wanted you all to that my partne

I just wanted you all to know my partner and I got a four week African Grey we named Mingus about a month and a half ago.Even though we still miss serena very much and know one can ever take her place Mingus has brought us much joy and comerfort,we had to feed him with a siringe for over a month every 2 hours now he,s eating on his own and flying like crazy .However we have also gone through more sorrow,my partner sister left her beaitful green and blue parike with us when she whent on a trip to mexica and told her brother if the bird were to die not to contact her just flush him down the tlit whrich we would never do.She never let teckco out of his cage so the por little bird was insne but we started letting him out every day and he lovedit he became a happer tamer bird he would sit on a jar of cream evry morning in the bathroom while I shaved and brushed my teeth . Unfournty we woke one moring a fond poor teckco dead we think he had a hartattack.As much as we miss him we feel very blessed we were able to give teckco a better life in the two months he was with us.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks for the update, Dean. It comes at a time when I've just lost my parrot. Still can't believe he is gone. Has left such a hole!


Dean Tiefenbach 2 years ago

Hi Donna I am so very very sorry to hear you just lost your,e parrot I just found out . I know what you,re going threw and it takes a lot of time to heal please keep me posted on how you are doing.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks Dean. It's been two weeks and feels like it just happened yesterday. I miss him calling me or singing the first part of a song and expecting me to finish it...or playing peek-a-boo...or wanting a slice of banana...or bell pepper.... So many things remind me of him and I'm thankful for the memories.


dean tiefenbach 2 years ago

HI Donna yes I know what you mean when you say you miss your,e parrot calling you and singing. its been 3 months this week since serna passed away and I still miss her asking me if I,m okay before I whent to bed but like you we are thankful for the memories,please keep me posted


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Other things that remind me of him are foods. As I cut up a pineapple I used to give him some...or fresh green beans...or the insides of a bell pepper. Sure do miss him.


dean tiefenbach 2 years ago

Yes I know what you mean Donna so many foods remind me of what Serena liked to eat oranges, Wallnuts, Apples. the parrot we have now Mingus likes other things like Grapes and Strawberies . Please let me know how you are doing these days.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes I still have a bag of walnuts...


Dean Tiefenbach 2 years ago

Hi Donna just wanted to know how your,e doing these days ,our parrot mingus is four months now and very busy but we still think about serena and still miss her.I was wondering what species your,e bird was?


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi Dean,

Thanks for asking. It's been two months now since Neelix passed. I happened across a family video the other day and in the background was Neelix's voice. Was so good to hear him, but it made me miss him all the more.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working