I own a Congo African Grey, and I've fostered Amazon Parrots. Both are fascinating birds that make great pets!
Observing Bird Behavior
As an avid aviculturist, I am extremely interested in the differences between the species in the Psittacine family of birds. I have worked with both Amazon Parrots and African Grey Parrots, both Timnehs and Congos.
By extensively observing the behaviors of these two kinds of birds, I have developed many ideas on what may really be going on inside of those bird brains—not only how they are behaving and why, but also how their behavior fits into everyday life in a captive environment and what we as owners can do to make life a little bit better for everyone.
Which Parrot Should I Get as a Pet?
There are a lot of things that go into deciding which type of bird is the right companion for you, but you have to know the facts in order to make an informed decision! Here are some of the major differences between two of the most popular bird breeds, African Grey Parrots and Amazon Parrots.
Congo African Grey Parrots
African Grey Parrots are extremely intelligent. In fact, they may just be the most intelligent and most linguistically capable of all the parrots.
Greys are known for not being particularly keen on small children. With the exception of keas, parrots are prey animals, and children often move too quickly and too rapidly for a Grey to feel completely safe.
Research on African Greys
Dr. Irene Pepperberg has already demonstrated with several Congo African Grey parrots that Greys are able to add and subtract, differentiate between colors and shapes, and hold coherent "conversations." They have the brainpower and intelligence equivalent to at least a 4-year-old child.
I hope to someday prove with my research that over their 60-year (or longer) life span, they are able to read and completely understand human emotions, concepts, and abilities that were only thought to be possible for the largest brained mammals.
My African Grey: Louise Bird
My African Grey, Louise, has a lovely light grey body with a short scarlet tail as well as a striking black beak and scaly black feet. She is a shining example of how intelligent parrots are. She is extremely talkative, has a sense of humor, and learns new words and songs after only hearing them a few times. She amazes me each day with how much she not only says and repeats, but also truly understands.
Check out the subtitled video below of our 2-year-old feathered genius speaking:
She Sings, Learns Names, and Has a Favorite Color
She makes up beautiful songs and apologizes when she does something we don't approve of, like rip open and spill the bag of Nutriberries or try to make a nest under the dresser. Louise picks up many different concepts incredibly quickly. She has a favorite color (red) and is able to tell the difference between many different foods, such as apples, berries, grapes, nuts, and pellets. She calls us into the bird room by name, including the cats. She also knows the names of the other birds.
She prefers certain types of music to others and loves to play with toys that light up, move, or make noise. She will press the button five or six times in a row on her Leap Frog piano and dance. None of this is technically research because I have not set up a proper experiment, but to me, it's evidence there is more going on inside of her head than we once thought.
Pedro, a Mexican Red-Headed Amazon I fostered, is a perfect example of the typical Amazon Parrot. He was at the tender age of 25 when he arrived in our home and was full of life, noise, and attitude.
Amazons Come in Beautiful Colors
Unlike African Greys, Amazons come in a wide array of color variations. The most common breeds kept as pets are the Yellow-Headed, Double Yellow-Headed, Yellow Nape, and the Blue-Fronted, although there are even more out there. Pedro was incredibly gorgeous, with a deep green color on his body and a vibrant red- and purple-tinted head. Underneath his wings, lovely feathers colored with bright hues of violet, yellow, rouge, and blue were found, but only when he wanted to show them off.
They Are Loudmouths!
One of the more unfortunate aspects of the Amazon is they tend to be much louder than African Greys. Amazons communicate with loud vocalizations and rapid eye movements. The way a particular bird's eyes are dilating, or pinning, can tell you much about their moods and whether you should go ahead and give them a scratch—or back up and save yourself from a nasty bite. Amazons' beaks are able to crush the shells of some of the hardest nuts found on the planet, so imagine what could happen to a human hand!
Amazons are also known for their wonderful singing ability, and some may even give Louise a run for her money when it comes to talking. Pedro liked to scream and imitate car alarms, dogs barking, and children laughing. Pedro eventually moved into a single bird family home, where he is now much more comfortable. Of course, he always did prefer to be the star of the show.
Reasons to Love Them Both
Both parrots belong to the Psittacine family. Both species have the ability to be extremely affectionate. (Of course, as with any other animal, they also have the ability to be total and complete brats.)
Both birds enjoy specific foods and toys. They can also have other specific preferences, such as songs, positions in the house, and people. Louise often hangs upside down from her cage. (We call this her "bat bird" position.) Most Amazons I have worked with prefer to be right side up at all times, although every bird has a unique and distinct personality.
Greys tend to be more affectionate, while Amazons tend to be goofy clowns with an amazing ability to mimic and imitate nearly all noises. Amazons are known for being lovely singers, but my Grey has quite the vibrato on her as well! Both the Amazon and the African Grey can make wonderful pets in the right home with the right flock.
Are Parrots Domesticated?
In the case of most species of birds, we cannot call them domesticated animals as with other common household pets. Domestication occurs over several generations, and it takes hundreds—if not thousands—of years. Most larger parrots, such as cockatoos, Greys, macaws, and eclectus parrots, are only a few generations removed from the wild, if not wild-caught. This means that, unlike dogs, they would be completely able to readapt to their natural environment quickly after being reintroduced into it.
However, this does not mean a pet parrot could be released outside anywhere. Not only is this illegal in most parts of the country, but also many parts of North America do not have the proper climate for these tropical birds to acclimate adequately. Not to mention, hawks, cats, and other predators would surely make a quick meal out of an inexperienced parrot!
Nevertheless, some escaped pet parrots can survive for days—if not weeks—in an acceptable wild environment. This is due mostly to the fact that they are extremely clever, quick-witted, and flexible.
Only You Can Decide Which Bird Is Better for Your Flock
I have an obvious bias for the Congo African Grey, but only you can decide which bird would fit better into your home and lifestyle.
- Greys are extremely intelligent and capable of learning all sorts of amazing things. However, they can also be very nervous birds and are prone to heart conditions and seizures, particularly in their old age.
- Amazons can be stubborn but are just as spectacular and witty as the Greys. Amazons are prone to obesity and fatty liver disease.
Both birds deserve a lot more stimulation than hours on end in a boring cage and crummy seeds in an open bowl. I hope that someday, with my research, determination, and dedication, these incredible animals will not just be treated better, but with the full amount of love, awe, and respect they truly deserve.
Amazons vs. African Greys: Which bird do you prefer?
Questions & Answers
Question: Can an African grey parrot breed with a Amazon?
Answer: No, African Greys and Amazons are different species from 2 very different continents. They cannot breed with one another.
Question: How can you tell what sex my parrot is?
Answer: The only 100% way to know for sure is a blood test. An avian veterinarian can do that for you. Most species of parrots are sexually monomorphic, meaning males and females look almost identical. Sometime, a female will lay eggs, but usually, you will have to get the DNA/ blood test to know for certain!
Question: I like quiet and affection and intelligence in a pet. Are any parrots soft spoken? Gentle loving and non biting?
Answer: All birds can and will bite at some point in their life. However, grey's typically make less "bird noise" than other species. They can be very noisy, but usually prefer to talk or whistle instead of scream. However, all birds are different and your experience may differ. Both of my greys are very loving, but one prefers me while the other prefers my boyfriend.
Question: What is the life span of the amazon parrot?
Answer: Up to 60 years in captivity, but that's with proper diet, veterinary visits, and plenty of exercise.
Marie lee on September 02, 2019:
A yellow nape and a double yellow head..25 years.
Part of the family ..forever...
Wildcaught78 on August 23, 2019:
I'm Bluebirds human. Wild caught in 78. She has a amazing vocabulary.
Bluebird has been in my family 37 yr.
She absolutely has a thought process. She know exactly what she is gonna do... always!!! Determined to have thing her way. She will approach things with plan A, B and C.
When asked a question she is able to respond properly.
Bluebirds coloring is amazing also. She loves other parrots but doesn't care much for children. She's interested in kids but nah... they steal her "attention time"
She prefers men, yet loves me more than anyone else.
Not real affectionate, like a Cockatoo however; when I'm upset she will ask me in her sweetest voice "What's a matter?" Melting my heart every time.
We have been there for each other, through thick and thin and always will be.
Me and Bluebird till the end!!!
Daniel Sheldon on August 16, 2019:
Was in Panama in Army and got into Amazon parrots. Had many parrots but my rare Blue Crowned Mealy Amazon known as The Gentle Giant of the Amazons!! He's 11 now just wonderful bird!!
artur on April 23, 2019:
i still cant decide my friend has a grey and my other one has an amazon
and i love them both but its a little too dear to buy both of them
Usman Aslam Baig on December 25, 2016:
hi i am from pakistan lahore . i bought one african grey parrot last year and now he is talking like a human being,he is totally connected with us .we understand his feelings and he understands us .he whistle 10 different types and call all members name in home
we love him and now he is our family member
couples of week before i bought an amazon yellow and blue headed ..he is 6-7 months old but he is very aggresive .I am very much worried about him.he is not understanding our home envoirment and always try to attack us even some one stand infront of his cage..i need to ask how i can make him playfull like grey african so that we live happily with both
10. I’ve heard African grey parrots are more prone to feather picking. Is that true?
African grey parrots have been known to feather pick however, some environmental and behavioral precautions can prevent this condition. Experts recommend giving African greys quiet time and opportunities to get away by making a corner of your African grey’s pet bird cage private. As always, a pet bird cage stocked with toys and things to do will keep an African grey happy. Some over-the-counter bird medication can also help prevent feather picking.
Posted By: Chewy Editorial
Featured Image: via shrutebucks/iStock/ThinkStock
African Grey Vs Yellow-Nape Amazon
My mother would like to get a large parrot. She will have a lot of time to spend with the bird and to care for it, but only limited resources. Having the bird speak well is essential. The birds that are considered most are an African grey parrot or a yellow-nape Amazon.
What are the main differences between these two species, apart from looks? My current understanding is as follows:
* Grey is likely to be more intelligent
* Amazon is likely to be less shy and perform for visitors
* Care for a grey is likely to be more complicated (fighting calcium problems, balancing change and stability, etc.)
* Amazon is less prone to feather-plucking and emotional problems
Is all that right? Have I missed anything?
Stanislav Shalunov http://www.internet2.edu/
This message is designed to be viewed at room temperature.
* Amazon is less prone to feather-plucking and emotional problems[/nq]All birds can be subject to feather picking and emotional problems. Most of these are caused by a lack of vitamins in the birds diet. Yes some of them can be caused by problems with the bird, such as the liver never developing, or some other unforseen problem with the bird. If you buy the bird through a pet shop, make sure there is a health certificate with the bird, and if there isn't one, what kind of policy they have if the bird dies due to unforseen circumstances.
The one breeder I go through to get my birds has a policy if the bird dies and its not caused by the owner, then she replaces the bird free of charge. She does require a narcropsy to find the actual cause of death, and if it was an unforseen problem, then she has no problem in replacing the bird free of charge.
Is all that right? Have I missed anything?
ROTFLMAO, Tony you get better and better, I do not have the time to tell you about each bit of crap you just posted but you need to get some education boy.
When I first got interested in parrots I spent a lot of time listening, asking questions then listening some more. You might want to try that for a while before you open your mouth again.
Check out our web site,
A few new features and new pictures.
Gee, those websites above would make you look stupid.
Molly, I am not an Avian Vet, so for me to do that would go against my better judgement. Try reading some of the information on the websites that I posted. You may learn something.
My opinion is that both of these birds can be wonderful pets, but large parrots take some knowledge to handle so that they stay well socialized, well behaved birds. It sounds like you are doing lots of homework on the types of bird your Mom might like. I would suggest that your Mom and you also read some parrot behavior books which would prepare you for how to best handle such a pet. Yellow napes are often said to be one of the more temperamental of the amazons, but that is a generalization. Still, any person owning one of these birds should be comfortable handling a pet which can (and will sometimes) deliver a painful bite without losing confidence or growing fearful of the bird.
Sometimes a good thing to do before buying a bird that will be an expensive purchase and will be capable of living 35 years or more is to join a local bird club. The members can advise you and you can also get the chance to meet various types of parrots and try handling them.
As for talking, as others have mentioned, some types of parrots are known as great talkers, but be prepared for the possibility that an individual bird won't fit the bill. I have an eclectus which is a species which is often a very talented talker, but mine has only acquired a handful of words. Some of my parakeets are far better talkers. You might want to consider the eclectus in your mix of choices. They are very beautiful, usually fairly docile and often great talkers (but not always!)
Thank you very much for the specific suggestion. I'll check it out and pass it on.
Stanislav Shalunov http://www.internet2.edu/
This message is designed to be viewed in boustrophedon.
You have received some good advise. One option I did not see mentioned = is adopting a mature bird. You would need to be careful to find one = without severe behavior problems, but you could then be sure it would = talk, and see how it reacts to strangers. Even more important is how the = bird reacts to your mother. Birds sometimes like or dislike a new person = immediately. If your mother and the bird fall in love at first sight, it = will go a long way toward ensuring a happy relationship.
One more thing: big birds live a long time. Be sure to provide care for = any bird if your mother becomes unable to care for it.
"stanislav shalunov" (Email Removed) wrote in message =
Parrot, Parakeet, African Grey & Amazons – Care Sheet
Including Parakeets, African Greys and Amazons.
- Cage and cage stand
- Cage cover
- Water pot
- Seed pot
- Seed guard
- Sand/Sand sheets and grit
- Parrot care book
- Mineral block
- Vitamin drops
Parrots make interesting and enjoyable pets. However, a single caged bird will require a lot of attention and stimulus if it is not to become bored and frustrated. The normal colour is grey but there are variations such as white, cinnamon, pied, silver or lutino (pale yellow).
Parrots are natural acrobats and mimics, they can learn simple words and phrases and are excellent whistlers.
Many parrots have a long lifespan and are therefore a long term commitment.
Choosing and buying your parrot
Bright and alert
Have no signs of discharge from eyes or nostrils.
Have a clean vent area
Feathers should be flush to the body and not fluffed up
Should have no signs of breathing problems
Movement should be fluent with no signs of lethargy
Although parrot cages make suitable homes for short-tailed parrots, long-tailed varieties should be kept in an outside aviary or an indoor flight, as can short-tailed parrots. A single caged bird will require a lot of attention and stimulus if it is not to become bored and frustrated (a common cause of feather plucking). If the bird is to be left on its own for long periods, it is better to give it a companion. Love birds should always be kept in pairs or small groups. A roomy cage is a necessity unless housed in an aviary and must be large enough for your parrot to stretch his wings and fly from perch to perch. Parrots are climbing birds so it is preferable to choose a cage with horizontal bars. A removable tray will make cleaning easier.
You should avoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp or humid conditions. Sandsheets or cage bird sand should be placed in the bottom of the cage and replaced regularly.
The cage should be furnished with perches of different diameter and one or two toys, but do not overcrowd the cage. Try and buy a selection of toys and rotate them to avoid boredom. Remove droppings daily. The cage and furnishings should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a pet-safe disinfectant weekly.
Outside aviaries must have a sheltered section to provide protection from wind, rain and strong sunlight. This is where you should position the roosting site (the highest perch or nest box) and the food containers. Aviaries should be suitably furnished with branches of different widths. Do not place perches directly above food and water pots. The cage/aviary can be furnished with non-poisonous wood branches such as fruit wood which will add interest and aid with keeping the beak short.
Introducing your parrot to his new home
Before introducing your parrot to is new home, fill the food and water pots and sprinkle a little extra onto the floor to ensure that he has enough to eat until he finds his seed pots. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and fires are guarded. Gently open one end of the carry box and let your parrot walk into his new home. If he appears anxious or does not settle, drape a cloth over three sides of the cage until he settles. This can then be gradually removed. Leave him to adjust quietly. Only cover the cage at night if the room temperature is likely to fall.
Feeding and Water
It is important to give your parrot a varied diet. Each day you should offer food from the following categories.
- Cereals: A good quality parrot mixture is available from your pet shop. Check the seed dishes daily and remove any empty husks.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, pears, cherries.
Vegetables: Celery, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, fresh peas and beans.
- Supplements: Cuttlefish is a source of calcium and helps to keep the beak worn down. A mineral block will provide essential minerals and trace elements. Vitamin drops should be added to the water.
Millet seed can be given as a treat, as can honey bells and seed bars. Fresh foods must be thoroughly washed before being offered. Food and water pots should be washed regularly.
Fresh water should always be available.
Early signs of illness in parrots include loose droppings, discharge from the nostrils, laboured breathing, feathers raised to give a puffed up appearance, resting with head under wing and both feet on the perch. If you are at all worried about your parrotís health, contact your vet.
- Feathers: These should not be allowed to become too dry. You should use a suitable fine mist spray, together with a special solution to spray on. Your pet shop will advise. Some, but not all, parrots enjoy a bath.
- Colds: Chilling causes colds. The bird will be listless, with feathers fluffed up and wheezing. Keep him warm and do not bath. Consult with your vet.
- Diarrhoea: This is commonly caused by an excess of green food, mouldy or contaminated food, a change in diet or a lack of fresh water. Keep him warm, make sure he has plenty of water and consult your vet.
- Mites: Usually the red mite, this is a parasite that feeds on birdsí blood, will cause itching and weight loss. Mites are easy to destroy with a suitable spray. Your pet shop or vet will advise.
- Beaks and Nails: Should they become overgrown, you will need to seek expert help.
- Feather Plucking: This can be due to a poor diet, lack of exercise or stimulation. Spend time with your parrot and provide novel toys. If the condition persists, consult your vet.
Crucial Differences Between Timneh and Congo African Grey Parrots
It’s a little known fact that there are two different subspecies of African grey parrots. They share some similarities. Both are from Africa, both are grey, and they are both endangered. But they have unique physical characteristics that set them apart for the astute observer.
Though the African greys look almost identical, Congo African Grays are larger than the Timneh. The Timneh generally grows to 10 inches tall while the Congo grows to 14 inches. Congos weigh approximately one pound, with Timneh’s weight being around 10 oz.
Both birds are grey, but there is a slight difference in the shade. The Congo ranges in color from a light grey to dark, with a solid black beak and bright red tail feathers. In contrast, the Timneh’s feathers are a dark, charcoal grey with a pink upper beak and dark maroon tail feathers.
The Personality of the African Greys
One of the African greys’ key features is that they are among the most talented mimicking birds. This fact is evidenced by African grey owners who claim their parrots can speak in context. The African grey is known for its intelligence, which has earned it the moniker “the Einstein of the bird world.”
Dr. Irene Pepperberg from the University of Arizona did a study of parrots in 1995. She estimated that African greys have the intelligence of a 5-year-old and the temperament of a 2-year-old. It is essential to realize that each parrot will possess a unique personality and characteristics.
African greys are great family pets because they are generally affectionate and docile while being goofy and a fantastic entertainer. These birds build strong bonds with their owners, and these connections can last for years.
African Grey Congo
Congo African greys can be found in the Southeastern part of the Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Tanzania. Their average lifespan is between 40-50 years. They are energetic, intelligent, and a favorite of longtime bird handlers and owners. A Congo grey may become a “one-person bird” even if various members of your family spend time socializing with them.
These parrots begin mimicking words at around six months, but they should be able to string together several words by the time they turn one. A unique trait of the Congo African grey is that they can mimic voices in addition to mimicking other sounds.
Timneh African Grey
The Timneh is considered the top choice for a first-time parrot owner over the Congo African grey because of their more docile manner. The Timneh has a similar lifespan to that of the Congo African grey. They also tend to be more laid back and are more capable of developing multiple human bonds simultaneously.
The Congo grey may only like one person at a time, and it is not uncommon for them to switch their affection to another person around the age of 2-3. This trait is not typical of the Timneh, making them even more suitable for a family environment.
What do African Greys Eat
In the wild, African greys feed mostly on fruits and seeds, with some leafy substances thrown in occasionally. But the diet is different for captive-bred grey parrots. In this situation, they tend to eat seeds, grain, fruits, and vegetables, but sadly, many are afflicted with calcium deficiency, so they may require a calcium supplement.
African greys are also prone to deficiency in vitamin A (beta-carotene) and Vitamin D. Parrots can eat fresh foods such as raw and steamed vegetables and cooked grains to get these vitamins naturally. If they are not getting enough vitamins, consider buying a pelleted diet that contains the vitamins your parrot needs or ask your vet for advice to prevent vitamin deficiency.
There are some foods you should never feed your feathered friends, such as alcohol, avocado, dairy products, meat, chocolate, peanuts, fruit seeds, and things high in salt, fat, or sugar. It is crucial to find the right foods to keep your parrot happy and healthy.
Common Health issues
One of the critical factors for keeping your parrot happy and healthy is making sure they’re not lonesome or feeling neglected. These birds are social, affectionate creatures that are dependent on you, their owner, for companionship. Spending time playing games and talking with them helps to stimulate them.
Grooming is an integral part of a parrots day, but if grooming turns to feather picking, there may be a problem. Feather picking is when a bird plucks out or damages its feathers. This action can be caused by a medical, environmental, or behavioral problem. Most commonly, it is a sign that a parrot is bored, jealous, or fearful.
Parrots need to have something to chew on, ropes to climb on, and perches to rest on. African grey particularly needs puzzle and foraging toys that challenge their intelligence. All of these will help your parrot remain entertained and stimulated. There are many parrot toy options online it is up to you to pick the right ones for your bird.
The Pros of Owning a Parrot
Before you head to the pet store to pick out your parrot, consider the pros and cons of owning a parrot. A big plus of parrot ownership is that parrots live for a long time. While dogs’ and cats’ average lifespan is only 15 years, small parrots can live between 30 to 40 years, with large parrots living to be over 80.
Parrots come in a variety of colors and sizes. The largest parrot is the Hyacinth macaw, which measures 3.3 feet long from head to tail and weighs between 2.6-3.7 pounds. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Buff-faced pygmy parrot, which is the smallest parrot at roughly 2 inches from beak to tail.
Additionally, parrots are exceptionally social. They enjoy playing, cuddling, and being sweet. They do not need to go for walks, and they enjoy spending time with their person. Their social nature must contribute in some part to their eagerness to mimic what the humans around them are saying.
The Cons of Owning a Parrot
On the opposite end of bird ownership, we must acknowledge that birds are one of the messiest pets you could own. From feathers flying to birdseed sprouting in your carpet, there is little you can do to keep your feathered friend from displacing their food all around the cage and your home.
While parrots are social creatures, they can also be quite demanding. Generally, birds are confined to one part of the house to keep the mess they make to a minimum. But they won’t always like it when you leave the room and may put up quite a commotion until you return.
As mentioned earlier, parrots can live for a long time. You must consider this fact if you plan to go away to college, start a family, or move to a new area. By buying a bird, you are making a long-term commitment to their care. It might be wise to have a plan in place to care for the parrot if something unexpected happens.
We can’t stress enough that African greys need social interaction. As a flocking bird, it would not be unusual for 1,000 birds to roost together at night in their natural habitat. Their highly social personalities make them a fantastic addition to your household, but only if you have the time and willingness to give them the care they need. They do not require walks, but they might need some talks.
Whether you choose to invite a Congo or Timneh African grey into your home, make sure you do your research. Find a parrot at a pet store or through a breeder to observe and ask some questions. Seeing how a grown parrot acts, how they interact with their owner, and what their environment is like can help you decide if an African grey parrot is the right choice for you.