African Grey & Timneh Grey Parrots




A Grey Parrot’s level of intelligence can have bitter consequences. When neglected or ignored, these birds will feather pick, feather pluck or even chew holes into their skin. I recently found a home for one such bird. It was devoid of feathers, save for those on its head that it could not reach. Its wing webs bore scars from being repeatedly chewed. By the time the bird reached me, it was barely eating.

Problems with this bird started when its owner, who was always at home, started working. They worsened when the family acquired a puppy. Suddenly the bird was not receiving the attention that it was accustomed to, initiating a crisis that spiralled into an attempt at suicide—starvation. When the bird’s owner called me in a panic, I contacted several bird keepers who had shown interest in adopting a problem bird. The selection process was tedious. It required a bird lover with the patience, time and knowledge to deal with a bird undergoing so many emotional issues. It also needed someone prepared to address the medical problems that the bird could have had.

The problem was addressed using a multi-pronged approach. The bird was taken to an avian veterinarian, who certified that it had no medical conditions. Next the bird had to be trained to behave like a parrot—to explore, chew, play and more. Having been handreared by its former owner, who had scant knowledge of parrots, the bird was kept isolated. When it learned to fly, its wings were clipped.

When it started to chew its perch, the perch was replaced with an indestructible model. When the bird started to explore its surroundings, it was picked up and placed on the shoulders. By training the bird to explore, play with toys, chew and behave as would a typical parrot, its reliance on humans for everything would have been lessened. It could then spend the time alone keeping itself amused and some of the problems may never have arisen. Basically the bird had to be trained to behave like a parrot.

Progress was slow at first but now, months later, the bird is comfortable sitting on its stand playing with its toys. It has started to feather up—a great accomplishment considering the fact that most prolonged feather pluckers can never be rehabilitated. The bird’s reliance on humans for everything has been diminished. There is still much that needs to be done, but each time I see the bird, I am amazed at the strides taken.

To read more in this article refer to the referenced source.


Australian BirdKeeper Magazine Vol. 19, Iss. 5
The Grey Parrot—A Popular Pet by Derian al Silva Moraton © ABK Publications 2011.

For a list of back issues of Australian Birdkeeper Magazine featuring African Grey and Timneh Grey Parrots
and for books/DVDs see


A Guide to Grey Parrots as Pet & Aviary Birds Published by ABK Publications

A Guide to Pet and Companion Birds Published by ABK Publications

Good Bird—A Guide to Solving Behavioural Problems in Companion Birds Published by Barbara Heidenreich

Parrot Problem Solver—Finding Solutions to Aggressive Behaviour Published by Barbara Heidenreich


Keeping & Breeding the African Grey (92 min) Presented by Eelco Meyjes

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