The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is a medium-sized bird found in primary and secondary rainforest of West and Central Africa. Experts regard it as one of the most intelligent birds.
Their overall gentle nature and their inclination and ability to mimic speech have made them popular pets. This has led many to be captured from the wild and sold into the pet trade.
The African Grey Parrot is listed on CITES appendix II, which restricts trade of wild caught species, because wild populations cannot sustain trapping for the pet trade.
They feed primarily on palm nuts, seeds, fruits, leafy matter, and have even been observed eating snails.
There are two subspecies universally accepted:
Congo African Grey Parrot (“CAG”)
This is the proposed subspecies. It is about 33 cm long, with light grey feathers, cherry red tails, and an all black beak. Immature birds of this subspecies have tails with a darker, duller red towards the tip until their first moult which occurs within 18 months of age.
These birds eyes also initially have grey irises which change to a pale yellow colour by the time the bird is a year old. The Congo grey parrot is found on the islands of Príncipe and Bioko and is distributed from south-eastern Ivory Coast to Western Kenya, Northwest Tanzania, Southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Northern Angola. Its scientific name is Psittacus erithacus.
Timneh African Grey Parrot (“TAG”)
These are smaller in size, have a darker charcoal grey coloring, a darker maroon tail, and a light, horn-colored area to part of the upper mandible.
The Timneh grey parrot is found in the western parts of the moist Upper Guinea forests and bordering savannas of West Africa from Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Southern Mali to east of the Bandama River in Ivory Coast.
It is often called a As pets Timnehs begin learning to speak earlier than Congos, and are often said to be less nervous around strangers and novel situations.
Its scientific name is Psittacus erithacus timneh.
Some aviculturalists recognize a third and even a fourth subspecies, but these are not distinguishable in scientific studies.
These are the “Ghana African Grey” or “Princeps African Grey,” and the “Cameroon African Grey,” most often referred to as “the big silvers.” Surprisingly, these parrots do not originate from Ghana or Cameroon, but from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.