African Gray Parrot African Gray Parrot
African Grey Parrot

Scientific Classification

Common Name
African grey parrot
Psittacidae (true parrots)
Genus Species
Psittacus (parrot) erithacus (a solitary bird which can be taught to speak)

Fast Facts

As its name indicates, the African grey is a mottled grey colored, medium-sized parrot. It has a large black bill and white mask enclosing a yellow eye, and has a striking red vent and tail . Females have a pale gray crown with dark gray edges, a gray body, and scarlet tail feathers. The male looks similar to the female, but becomes darker with age.
Approximately 33 cm (13.2 in.)
Approximately 400 g (14 oz.)
Includes fruit, seeds, buds, nectar, and pollen; occasionally insects or other meat will be eaten
28 days
Clutch Size
2 to 4 eggs
Fledging Duration
12 weeks
Sexual Maturity
4 to 7 years
Life Span
50+ years
This species can be found from southeastern Ivory Coast east through the moist lowland forests of West Africa to Cameroon, and in the Congo forests just east of the Albertine Rift in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, and south to northern Angola.
Although typically inhabiting dense forest, they are commonly observed at forest edges, clearings, gallery forest, mangroves, wooded savannah, cultivated areas, and even gardens.
The global population of P. erithacus has been coarsely estimated at 0.56 to 12.7 million individuals. The population is decreasing but is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Endangered
CITES: Appendix I 
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

The African grey parrot is monogamous, nesting solitarily in a tree with a hole for her eggs.

One defense mechanism is fluffing up to look larger and biting.

The African grey is considered to be one of the most accomplished mimics. Parrots, when raised by humans, show an amazing ability to mimic people and noisy objects, but in the wild they have never been observed mimicking.

These parrots have a long lifespan and can outlive their human owners.

Ecology and Conservation

These birds play an important role in their habitat by helping to propagate the forest. Undigested seeds may be carried and dropped to colonize new areas of the forest.

These birds may eat nectar and are important in the pollination of many tropical plants.

These birds are one of the most popular avian pets in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East due to its longevity and unparalleled ability to mimic human speech and other sounds. Demand for wild birds is also increasing in China, and increased presence of Chinese businesses in central Africa (particularly for mining, oil and logging) may increase illegal exports of this species.

Unfortunately, the African grey parrot has become popular in the pet trade due to their attractive colors and unbelievable talent to mimic sounds and words. Due to such a large demand, baby greys are being stolen from the wild to supply the demand.

Forest loss is also negatively impacting populations, and is considered to have contributed to declines in Ghana and may be a larger threat than the pet trade in Cameroon. The loss of large trees with nesting cavities may be particularly detrimental.


Forshaw, J.M. Parrots of the World. New Jersey. T.F.H. Publications Inc. 1978.

Marrison, C. and A. Greensmith. Birds of the World. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc. 1993.

Parker, Sybil P. (ed.). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Birds II. Vol. 8. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1972.

Perrins, C. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 1985.

BirdLife International. 2018. Psittacus erithacus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22724813A129879439. Downloaded on 06 December 2018.