Birdy Genius: The African Grey Parrot

Remember when people said that parrots just mimic sounds, and have no actual comprehension? Once I’d had a parrot of my own, I KNEW this was SO untrue! And I knew that “bird-brain” was actually a compliment!

Then I saw the results that Dr. Irene Pepperberg was getting from her lab at the University of Arizona. She acquired her most famous Grey, “Alex” from a pet shop when she was finishing her doctorate at Harvard.

Alex was capable of identifying objects by their type, their texture and their color, and learned how to label objects that were new to him. And that put him in the same class as primates, who had previously been the “gold standard” of animal intelligence.

Birds have brains that are structured differently than mammals, and so scientists for a very long time believed that they were not smart, and that they acted from instinct alone. But Dr. Pepperberg’s work with Alex disproved all that!

Baby Greys are just as homely as any newly hatched parrot, but they grow SO fast, and learn SO much! Greys can live for 80 years or more, and need daily interaction and exercise time. That means that they’re a MAJOR commitment in terms of your time, so don’t forget to plan for them to live well after you’re gone.

Way too many parrots end up in rescues, or, worse, handed off from one home to the next. Neither of these works well for a bird who is at least as emotionally developed as a 5-year-old child!

That being said, an African Grey is a smart and responsive addition to your family, who’ll entertain you in ways that are impossible to describe to anyone who hasn’t had a bird before!

In addition to being so intelligent, they’re also as playful as a 5-year-old, and they don’t seem to grow out of that bouncy, fun-loving, exuberant sense of life the way we humans do!


If you’re thinking of getting an African Grey for a companion, remember that they’re smart, frisky and a little needy, too! If that’s just what you’re looking for, make sure that you find a reputable breeder with good references from happy customers, and get your routine veterinarian check-ups just like you would for a cat or a dog.

A Grey will change your life forever, if you let them, and if you’re ready, they’ll grab you up into the whirlwind of bird ownership and never let you go!!!

Please check out “My African Grey Journal” at https://amzn.to/2SzWZLa to keep a record of the unbelievable things your Grey does!

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