By David Gale
Florida, United States
Posted Nov 04, 2011
If you want a bird that talks, A Congo African Grey is a great choice.
Lily came to be from a family who was about to have a baby. They knew the bird needed more attention than they would be able to provide once the baby came and they also knew that Lilly would be aggressive towards the baby.
Initally I intended to keep Lilly as a member of my flock. She was happy during the year she spent with me but it was quite obvious that she needed to be THE BIRD. Charley is THE BIRD in my house and it was unfair to keep Lilly in that situation. I placed her with a friend of the family who had no other pets, is retired, and lived alone. With this person Lilly had his full devoted attention and she was much happier with that situation than being #2 in the flock.
Lilly is an expert vocalist. She knew hundreds of words and even more sounds. She mimicked wild birds, televisions, doors, every sound she heard you might expect her to imitate. Especially if she wasn't getting enough attention.
African Greys require quite a bit of attention. And you cannot bring a bird into your home unless you understand that this animal is going to live for 30 years or more and will expect the same amount of attention you gave it the day you took it home as you give it 25 years later.
African greys also require a special diet. You cannot feed them cheep seed based food. They have a high incidence of arteriosclerosis as the amount of excursive they get in captivity is not enough for the high fat diet a seed based food provides. You must feed them a pellet based diet or they will have a greatly reduced lifespan (as much as half!)
Your Grey is probably going to pick one member of the family to bond with and that will be a very special relationship. They're less tolerant of other family members.
Females are usually more gentle than males.
Congos are usually less gentle than the Timneh breed.
There are a lot of greys out there which need a home.. Look on craigslist and in your local paper before you consider buying a bird from a breeder or a pet store. Most greys can transfer well from rescues to a new home as the birds seem to be able to "Train their owners" better than other breeds which often become stressed in this kind of transfer... that said, it is not uncommon for a grey to miss it's former situation and become a picker plucking their breast and wing feathers. It's best to have a trial situation where the rescue slowly acclimates the bird to you before the full move occurs. During that trial is when the bird has an opportunity to "train the new owner" :)