Grey Parrot has been a cherished pet in Europe since
the reign of Henry VIII during the sixteenth century,
and possibly even earlier than this time.
has 3 subspecies ,one now thought to be extinct.
The other two are well known and readily available in
The small sub species P. e. timneh known as the
Timneh Grey Parrot is smaller and darker in appearance
than the nominate form and has a horn colored top
mandible and maroon colored tail. The origins of the
Timneh Grey is concentrated in the western coastal
regions of Guinea, Ghana and the Ivory Coast of
Africa. The nominate form P. e. erithacus is
better known by several so called market names such as Red Tail
Grey, Congo Grey, Cameroon and Ghana or West African
Grey. These labels have created a very confused
public for many many years. .
names are were normally used to identify the African
geographical origin of a particular bird's ancestry,
such as CONGO AFRICAN GREY: from the Central African
Congo Republic and other central regions of Africa.
CAMEROON AFRICAN GREY: from the Cameroon region
of Africa also central Africa. WEST AFRICAN GREY or
GHANA GREY: from GHANA or the more western regions of
Africa such as the Ivory Coast and Guinea.
less informed breeders and dealers try to attach these
names to their birds describing certain size or color
variations, such as, one breeder told me that he
has a pair of Cameroon African Greys he would like to
sell to me. I asked him how did he know these birds origin?
He replied with " Oh, I don't know
where they came from, but they are large and silver
" therefore they are Cameroon African Greys or so
he was told by a dealer that sold them to him. Some
dealers knew that by attaching these names they could
demand higher prices from the public. In the mid
eighties during the heyday of U.S. bird importation, I
had several business deals and conversations with several
large well known U.S. African Grey importers.
These importers said there was
no way of anyone ever knowing what region a shipment of
African Greys actually were trapped. Native AFRICAN trappers
could travel large distances and from different
regions to sell their birds to exporters and buyers
and most of the time would have birds from different
In a single
shipment of 500 or more greys there would be many
color variations and sizes. It was common practice for
importers to separate the color variations and sizes
into groups, and attach names such as Cameroon, Congos,
and Ghana's without ever knowing if these birds were
actually trapped in these regions. But by
attaching these so called names they got more money
from even so called experts.
is a variance in size and color of African Greys
throughout Africa, starting from West to East is the
darker and smaller to the light silver and larger
birds being found more to the East and central
these are not different species but only geo differences due
to environmental circumstances. Some experts believe that diet and evolution
can have the most effect on size and color. One theory
is, since larger mineral deposits and unlimited
sources are likely to occur in the more central dense
forest regions, these birds would have evolved slightly
larger and have less melanin in the feathers creating
a lighter silver look.
Joseph Forshaw the
author of Parrots of The World states that quartz and many other high minerals
and nutient rich particles was found in the
intestinal tract of birds trapped in Central African
regions. Birds found in the western regions
contained very little or none of these particles and
food sources are more scarce in that region. These birds would be of
course smaller and darker than the birds in the east. Are
they a different species?, absolutely not. Should any
of these geographical separated birds be labeled Ghana,
Western, Cameroon,congo or whatever? No.
same birds colors
may change or morph to some degree when the diet is corrected. As we
have researched and proved on our farm sometime ago.
starting collecting breeding stock in late 70's early
80's, many years
ago we noticed some birds that first appeared darker
and these birds were labeled as west african greys (Ghanas) become more silver in color once the diet was
corrected, therefore the above theory may have some merit.
As we set up some of these smaller darker colored birds for breeding
and started producing babies, we also noticed that our
babies from these pairs were much larger and very silver compared to the
parents. Some of our other pairs of African greys that
were very large and silver also produced large and
smaller babies, also produced darker and some silver. We feel that diet has more to do with color
and size than anything else. Since all of the babies
now produced in the U.S. are offspring of these
original imports or from first generation, second
generation or even third generation breeders, there is
absolutely NO way for anyone to label a bird with the
correct origin based name such as Cameroon, Congo etc.
So do not be fooled by this practice by dealers and breeders that state they have
something special such as Cameroon, Congo, etc. We
breed the one nominate species of Grey Parrot. The nominate
species, we call the Red Tail Grey for obvious
In this species there are many different
sizes and color variations, but do we know for sure that a certain bird ancestry
came from a
certain region in Africa? No.
Does anyone else know?,
What difference does it
make? Red Tail African Grey is Red Tail African Grey.
African Greys are one
of the most talked about species of parrots. They are
known for talking ability and their intelligence.
Since 1982 we have bred and reared 100's of
greys with all being almost the same in one aspect of
personality, that is they are timid and somewhat shy
around strangers as a
general rule. One should move slowly around greys.
Greys do not take well to change once they have
adapted to an environment, changes should be done over
time as not to stress them out in a household. Many
will scream, growl and flutter around strangers or new
toys. You just have to take it easy until they get use
There are exceptions to this I do
understand as we have seen some that were not the
normal acting grey in nature.. The normal being timid and shy around
strangers. But with all
said and done African Greys are one of the highly
regarded talking species of all parrots. Almost all become a
prized addition to any ones family. Most all our babies
are very sweet and get very attached to their owners. I think one thing
that amazes most people about greys is they can mimic
and sound just like a certain voice. I have heard some
sound like women and men, some can sound like an old
Greys are one of the best mimics around.
Most greys take some time to develop their talents,
some taking a couple years to really get going with
their talking. Many Grey owners are disappointed when
they get a grey and then it just does not talk right
away. They must have time. GO slow around greys as
they are not like other species of parrots. Many Greys
are shy around strangers and
refuse to talk around strangers, but when the
strangers leave, they start up. One thing that
most people must understand is that the reputation of
the greys talking ability has been grossly exaggerated
in many instances over the years. Some just do not
live up to their reputation. But I will give the
credit where credit is due,
Most Greys do make one of
the finest talkers ever with the proper training and
They make a sweet bird
for the beginner or long term bird owners, once they
understand the common personality and characteristics
of this species and what to expect.
I must say this, do not
be disappointed if your Grey does not perform like
those birds you see on TV or read about on the
internet, as many of those birds just may not exist,
birds are highly trained and most household pets just do not get
that kind of training. Love your bird and enjoy it for
what it is. Excellent talker or not, performing or
not, you should still love your bird.
African grey has been cherished as one of the best
talking species of parrots. Accept them for what they
are. Never purchase a parrot with talking as the main
objective. They are much more than that. These birds
are highly affectionate and intelligent creatures
sometimes acting like small children.
and operate one of the largest and most successful
breeding farms on the east coast USA. today.
professional resposible breeders and we continue to educate
people how to properly maintain their birds