African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus)
Back to school time reminds us at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo of one of the Education department’s beautiful Animal Ambassadors named Zari. She is an African Grey Parrot. African Grey Parrots have the ability to mimic human speech so perhaps she can learn to say, “Back to school.”
African Grey Parrots are very social birds. They often roost in large groups, and form large, noisy flocks, with the birds calling to each other in a variety of squawks, whistles, shrieks and screams, both at rest and in flight.
Although they are not migratory birds, in West Africa, the species makes seasonal movements out of the driest parts of the range in the dry season.
DESCRIPTION: African Grey Parrots have pale grey plumage, with whitish edges to the feathers on the head and neck, which give them a lacy or scalloped appearance. Their wings are darker grey, while the legs and rear are a lighter grey or white.
A striking feature of the African Grey Parrot is the bright red, but short, tail. The beak and claws are black. On the face a large area of white surrounds pale yellow eyes.
Juvenile African Grey Parrots have dark grey or black eyes, grey-tinged under tail plumage and a darker red tip to the tail.
African Grey Parrots are one of the largest parrots in Africa. They are 13 inches long. They weigh on average 15 ounces. Their wingspan is between 18 and 20 inches.
RANGE: African Grey Parrots are native to the forest belt of central and West Africa including the oceanic island of Príncipe.
HABITAT: They inhabit lowland moist forest. They are often found in areas of oil palms and commonly roost in Raphia Palms overhanging watercourses, or on offshore islands.
DIET: Omnivore – nuts, fruits, leafy matter, insects, bark, and flowers
FAMILY LIFE: African Grey Parrots make their nests in tree holes, sometimes choosing locations abandoned by birds like woodpeckers. The nest of the African Grey Parrot is generally a simple cavity, high in a tree. Breeding occurs in loose colonies with each pair occupying its own tree. Individuals select mates carefully and have a lifelong monogamous bond. The breeding season varies by locality, but appears to coincide with the dry season.
African Grey Parrots breed once or twice a year. Females lay 3 to 5 eggs, one each at intervals of 2 to 5 days. Females incubate the eggs while being fed entirely by the male. Incubation takes approximately thirty days and the young emerge from the nest at twelve weeks old. After the young emerge from the nest, both parents feed, raise, and protect them. Both parents care for their clutch of young until they reach independence at around 3 years.
LIFE SPAN: In the wild or in human care the average lifespan ranges from 50 to 70 years