Timneh Grey vs Congo Grey
The gray parrot of Gabon is the largest and most popular gray parrot species in Africa.
It differs from its cousin, the Timneh African Gray, by a larger size, lighter gray color and a red tail rather than burgundy.
The Gray of Gabon is a species highly prized for its intelligence, its ability to speak and its sociability. It has been appreciated for thousands of years, because already the rich Greeks, then the Romans loved these birds so special that could reproduce the language of men.
Its popularity should not make us forget that the Gray is a difficult bird, which requires a lot of care and attention and which will not suit everyone. The purpose of this article is to give you a bird’s eye view of this special bird to help you choose where you want to go, and to avoid the main pitfalls you may encounter. Follow the guide.
The Gray of Gabon lives on average 50 years and can exceed the 65 years, so be prepared in most cases to a commitment for life.
Gray is an extremely intelligent bird. Moreover, the most famous Gray of Gabon is Alex the parrot, studied for years by the ethologist Irene Peperberg. Alex understood more than 1,000 words, and especially mastered a vocabulary of 100 words of English whose meaning he knew perfectly: he understood such concepts as “bigger”, “smaller”, “same”, could count until ‘to six, and could distinguish seven colors and five shapes!
Congo and timneh Parrot speech
The Gabonese Greens are excellent for mimicry, and many (but not all) are excellent speakers, with a capacity of over 200 words. Even those who do not repeat the words are very adept at repeating household noises like the phone or the door, often good enough to confuse their owners! Most Grays master a large collection of sounds, which they like to repeat. As studies have shown with Alex, the Grays have a unique ability to place their words and sounds in the context of the moment, rather than simply repeating, which shows their intelligence.
Their intelligence makes the gray parrot of Gabon a very demanding pet, however. You must be prepared to spend a lot of time with a Gray, providing social contacts and mental stimulation. The Grays have been described as being emotional as a 2-year-old, and intellectually as a 5-year-old. This means that they need a lot of attention and patience, with a good deal of education to show them the right behaviors. And, they can be from time to time be a real challenge!
The Greens tend to be very cautious, even nervous and suspicious, in new situations and with new people. They are reputed to be entirely devoted to one person, but this is largely due to the fact that often only one person in a household spends enough time with a gray to weave a truly close bond. Make an effort to socialize a Gray with many people, and give your parrot the chance to get acquainted with any new person. A gray will be happy to communicate with more than one person if each person spends enough time to gain the trust and affection of the bird.
Congo and timneh Parrot bites
The Grays have a bit of a reputation for biting, but this is largely due to socialization issues. Like other parrots, they bite, especially if they feel threatened in one way or another. However, the confidence of a Gray Parrot from Gabon must be won with patience and respect and pushing the interaction with a Gray who does not fully trust you can be worth a bite. They also have an excellent perception of the mood of people around them, and so they must be approached with a calm and relaxed attitude, or the bird might become restless or excited. In addition, a parrot who is bored or stressed is more likely to have behavioral problems – which includes biting – so be sure that the bird’s emotional, mental and physical needs are met: avoid problems. The intelligence of these birds means that they must have a lot of social interactions with their owners and mental and physical stimulation.
Picking up feathers
The Greens have a reputation for feather pullers. Parrots in general, including the Gray of Gabon, sometimes resort to feather pulling or to worst forms of self-mutilation, for various physical and physiological reasons, and also if their emotional needs are not met they are stressed. It should be noted that any bird that pulls its feathers needs a thorough check from a veterinarian to rule out a possible physical cause. If none can be found, then the behavioral reasons should be explored. The possible tendency of the Gray of Gabon towards this attitude comes probably from their intelligence and their need for attention and stimulation.
In summary, the Gray parrots of Gabon are beautiful and amazing parrots but are not the right bird for everyone.
Potential homeowners must carefully evaluate their ability to commit to meeting the needs of these birds throughout their life expectancy and to be sure they understand the best way to care for these beautiful parrots.
Lodge your Gray Parrot of Gabon
Size of the cage: the bigger it is, the better. You will need a large cage for these birds. I recommend a minimum in the area of 90 cm by 60 cm by 120 cm in height, but a larger size is definitely better when it comes to housing parrots.
The spacing of the mesh should be 1.9 to 2.5 cm.
At least part of the cage should have horizontal bars to allow the bird to climb to the sides of the cage.
The cage should be placed in a part of the house where the bird will have a lot of contact with people, but ideally not the most frantic of the house. Keep the cage away from the windows, where the Grays would receive direct sunlight (which could overheat them), protected from drafts, and not too close to radiators or air conditioning ducts.
A selection of perches should be provided – varied in size and material (for example, natural branches such as manzanita wood, which is often available at pet stores). Soft and slippery perches should not be used, nor perches covered with sandpaper.
Get a good selection of toys – the right size and after having checked for safety (see especially the parts that could be swallowed, the risk of strangulation or trap). Having a good selection of toys and spinning them in the cage can help you provide entertainment and stimulation to your bird.
Plan to let your Gabonese Gray spend a lot of time outside his cage, every day.
Feed the Gray of Gabon
Variety is the key here. Meatball diets should form the basis of the diet, but they should be supplemented with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seeds and proteins. A small amount of seed mixture can also be used to feed it, bearing in mind that while seeds have some nutritional value and place in the diet, they are still largely greasy and unbalanced and should not be the main part of the diet.
Gabonese Grays are somewhat prone to calcium deficiency, so their calcium levels should be checked annually by a veterinarian. Calcium supplements should not be used except on the advice of a veterinarian, but it may be beneficial to feed it with a wide variety of calcium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables (green cabbage, mustard, spinach …).
Fresh drinking water must be available at all times. Food and water dishes should be washed daily.
Toxic Foods for Gray Gabon
Apple seeds (because they contain cyanide)
Peach kernels (which also contain cyanide)
Dairy products containing lactose. Foods containing lactose are not dangerous for Gray, however, as birds can not digest it, products containing it have reduced nutritional value for them.
Garlic and onions, cooked or raw, contain a chemical agent that kills their red blood cells
Salt, which increases thirst, water consumption and the need to urinate.