One of the most intelligent birds on Earth, the African grey parrot makes a great companion bird. If you’re looking for a chatty bird, African greys are capable of developing large vocabularies. There are two varieties of African greys -- Congo and Timneh -- with a few minor differences.
Congo African Grey
Of the two types of African greys, the Congo variety is the most popular. At the pet store, you may see them labeled as Ghana, Togo, Cameroon or Angola, but they are just different names for the same species. The Congo is larger than the Timneh. A Congo grey is around 15 inches long, with a 20-inch wingspan. His feathers are ash gray that lighten towards the end, like they’ve been dipped in silver. His eyes are surrounded by white patches of skin. His cherry red tail is perhaps his most stunning feature.
Timneh African Grey
The Timneh African grey is the smaller variety. They only grow around 10 inches, with a more modest wingspan of around 14 inches. A Timneh has slate gray feathers around his neck and on his back and wings. His legs and belly are pale gray, almost white. His beak is pink on top, and the rest is black. His tail is a deep shade of maroon. Timnehs mature faster than Congos, and are often said to have a calmer nature.
No matter the type, African greys are extremely sharp. According to BirdChannel.com, African greys have an intelligence on par with a 5-year-old child, and the emotional maturity of a 2-year-old. They are capable of learning to identify up to 50 objects by sight. Some birds can develop vocabularies over 1,000 words.
If you’re thinking of adopting an African grey, there are some things to consider. They are sensitive to stress, and could get anxious and begin picking their feathers if they don’t receive daily attention and proper care. Males may be prone to aggression, and females to shyness. If they don’t interact with other people while they're young, they may become attached to only one person. Adopting an African grey is a lifelong commitment, as they can live up to 50 years.
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