African Grey Parrot

Psittacus erithacus

The African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) is a medium-sized parrot, endemic to primary and secondary rainforests of West and Central Africa. In the wild, these parrots live in large flocks. They mate for life and make their nests in tree holes, sometimes choosing locations abandoned by birds like woodpeckers. Parrots eat seeds, fruit, nuts, and berries. They usually pick their food from the trees, but sometimes land on the ground and eat dirt or tiny rocks. This helps the parrots digest their food.

African grey parrots are particularly noted for their cognitive abilities. Irene Pepperberg’s extensive research with captive African greys, especially the one known as Alex, has shown that these parrots are capable of associating human words with their meanings, at least to some extent. Although there exists a great deal of debate as to just how well these birds actually understand the meaning of the words they speak, there is little doubt that African greys and other parrots (especially macaws and cockatoos), along with corvines (crows, ravens, and jays), are highly intelligent in comparison with other birds.

African grey parrots have been kept as pets for over 4000 years. The Egyptians are thought to be the first to keep the African grey parrot as pets, as depicted in their hieroglyphics. The Greeks also highly valued the African grey parrot as pets, as did the Romans who kept these intelligent birds in highly ornate cages.

The above picture was taken in the Attica Zoological Park, Athens, Greece, in June 2007.

Tribe Psittacini
Subfamily Psittacinae
Family Psittacidae
Order Psittaciformes
Class Aves
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth