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2009 October

Parrot Blog > 2009 October | You are here

2009 October

African Grey Biting – Does Your Grey Hate You?

October 30th, 2009

Q: African Grey biting

I have a baby Congo just about 5 months old who has been the sweetest baby this whole time until just recently. I know these types of parrots are known to be a one person bird but at 5 months he is starting to ruffle his feathers and try to bite anyone but me. Is that a little young to start taking to only 1 person. What can I do to try and get him used to others wanting to pet him or handle him?

A: African Grey biting – Expert Answer

Welcome to the beginning of sexual maturity. You can look forward to periods of this behavior throughout his life. Hormones will do this.

No, he’s not too young to start taking to only one person, and you can’t stop him from liking one person better than others.
However, that is no reason that he should not at least tolerating handling by other people.

If others are backing off when he threatens to bite, they are teaching him that he can get his way by being aggressive.
That has to stop. Now.

Attaching general biting info; some of the links and books would be very helpful in your situation.

From my Bird FAQ:

Birds don’t bite for no reason, and they don’t bite because they personally ”hate” you. One of the biggest mistakes owners make is to take their bird’s behavior personally. Birds are not human, no matter how much we’d like them to be.

Birds will not bite unprovked and always give other body language clues before a bite; if you fail to read their cues, you will get a well deserved bite.

A bird cannot say ”I’d rather not be petted or held right now.” or ”Stop that! I don’t like it!”. They can only communicate with their body language, and as a last resort, a bite to get the point across.

Birds will also become more nippy when hormonal. There is nothing you can do about that, it’s just part of owning a parrot.

The problem of biting parrots doesn’t lie with the bird, it lies with the owner.

I’m not saying that to be rude, it’s just plain true: You need to do some reading up on parrot body language & learn to recognize his moods by his body language AND learn to respect that there will be times when he will not want to be handled or pet by anyone, including you.

I recommend you first go out and buy the books Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot by Mattie Sue Athan and The Beak Book by Sally Blanchard (A biting & aggression specific book). Both books help you out a lot.
You can find them both on amazon.com.

Then check these links; Liz Wilson is the author, and she is a recognized expert in parrort behavior and behavior modification:


Shoulder rides can also be a potential hazard, and cause dominance related problems. Shoulder riding is not a ”right”, and not every bird can be allowed to have shoulder rides. For more information on why shoulder rides are not a good idea for owners who are experiencing a biting problem or dominance problem in their birds see:


Train Your Parrot To Stop Biting

Answered by Tviokh, courtesy of http://www.practical-pet-care.com

George The Clawless Grey Gets A Prosthetic Limb

October 27th, 2009

Whilst trawling around YouTube, as you do, I came across this video which I thought I had to share with you (sorry if you’ve already seen it), this is what I call dedication to your African grey.

George the African grey from Cheshire, England lost his claw when a wild animal attacked him, which resulted in him not being able to balance on his perch, this meant 18 months of no sleep, imagine that, he must have been one grumpy bird, I know I would be!!

Well I’m pleased to say George got the attention of some experts and they came up with a prosthetic limb for him, he is now a happy bunny and can balance perfectly well, after a little manipulation to get him into his new leg, anyway enough of my dribble … check George and his new found limb out in this YouTube video.

5 Amazing African Grey Parrot Facts

October 25th, 2009

Fact 1. The African grey parrot is a monogamous bird, nesting solitarily in a tree with a hole for her eggs.

Fact 2. The African grey parrot’s main defence mechanism is fluffing up its feathers to look larger (and biting!).

African Grey Puffed Up

African Grey Puffed Up

Fact 3. African grey parrots are considered to be one of the most accomplished mimics. Parrots, when raised by humans, show an amazing ability to mimic people and noisy objects, but in the wild they have never been observed mimicking.

Fact 4. One of the most famous African grey parrots is Alex. Dr. Irene Pepperberg has studied animal behaviour and animal-human communications since 1977. She currently works with 3 grey parrots. Alex – (who has passed away at the age of 31) – can count, identify objects, shapes, colours, and materials, knows the concepts of same and different, and even tells the lab assistants what to do in order to modify his environment!

Fact 5. Because large parrots live so long, and may outlive their owners, it is often necessary for owners to put the birds in their wills.

Will & Testament

Will & Testament

Rare Parrot Mates With A BBC Cameraman

October 5th, 2009

Watch with laughter as this rare parrot “makes out” with a BBC cameraman

African Grey Parrot Diet

October 4th, 2009

For many many years a diet of a basic mixture of sunflower seeds, peanuts and some chilli peppers has been considered an adequate basis for the diet of African Greys. We now know it is a completely wrong approach. In the wild, African Greys feed mainly on nuts, including red palm nuts, fruit and leafy matter, like tree buds, flower buds and a small amount of seed. We can’t replicate their diet completely but we can do our best to provide a varied and nutritious diet for our companion parrots.

There is a number of formulated diet, otherwise known as pellets, present on the market. They are marketed as “complete” diets, which is a very misleading term. Most pellet manufacturers suggest the amount of pellets fed to be around 80% of the whole diet. This notion has been disapproved and argued with by many aviculturists. For a start, there are no pellets which would  differ in the composition depending on the bird§. So an african grey will receive just the same amount of every nutrient found in a pellet as would a budgie. However these two birds come from two completely different parts of the world and have quite different nutritional requirements. For example, African Greys are know to be calcium deficient more often than other parrot species, however budgies require a much smaller amount of calcium, as do cockatiels.

However, the pellets do provide a balanced complete protein, a wide range of vitamins and minerals. To balance out any possible overdosing or “underdosing” of the nutrients, it is suggested to feed pellets in the amounts of about 50% of the overall diet. Pellets also supply vitamin D to the diet, which is not found in other foods.

The brands of pellets to consider are: Hagen Tropical Granules, Harrisons Organic pellets, Zupreem pellets.

So what should the other 50% be made up of?

The greatest part of it should be made up of vegetables. The vegetables can make up to 40% of the whole diet. All vegetables and fruit have to be thoroughly washed before serving. It is best to buy organic and seasonal produce.

Recommended vegetables:
Sweet Potatoe
Chili Peppers
Brussel Sprouts

Leafy Greens (at least one of these should be given every day):
Broccoli with leaves and stalks
Cavolo Nero
Savoy Cabbage
White or Red Cabbage (best served lightly steamed, however fresh one is ok to give)
Spinach (no more than one or two times a week)
Dark-leaf lettuce
Dandelion Greens

Herbs (should be given just as for humans – as garnish, i.e in small amounts as they are too high in essential oils):

Berries (Make an excellent addition to a diet, but best used when in season, and organic.):

Of the wild ones:
Rowan Berries
Hawthorn Berries (consider limiting to about 5-6 a day)
Sloes (no pips)
Rose hips

Fruit (should be given as a treat for one simple reason – the fruit we buy are very far from their wild ancestors, and contain too much sugar and not much of anything else.):
The best fruit to offer are:
Grapes (limit to one or two grapes a day)

Papaya and Mango can be offered but have to be thoroughly peeled first. The skin of unripe Mango and Papaya contain toxins, but those papaya and mango we buy are usually picked unripe, so a care should be taken when and if feeding this fruit.

What you should aim for is to provide a large variety of fresh produce. Don’t concentrate on just one type of vegetable, offer as many as possible. To avoid picking, try blending all sorts of vegetables and greens in a food-processor, mixing with a few seeds and a chopped nut and serving it as a mash. Other ingredients can be added too. And here we move on to the next group of foods which should be included in the diet.

Grains and Pulses
These are the primary source of protein for the parrots. Parrots are vegetarians and should not be fed animal protein including eggs. The only time when parrots were ever observed consuming insects is during breeding. Unless you want to bring your parrot into hormonal state, avoid feeding any animals foods, like eggs, meat, fish etc.

Grains and pulses will provide a great source of protein and other nutrients.

Grains list:
Wholemeal Cous Cous
Wheat grain
Hulled Millet

Dried Peas
Mung Beans
Aduki Beans

Any other beans can be fed only after 8 hour soak, thorough rinse, and then 40-min rapid boil.

To prepare a good nutritious mix, containing a good amount of complete protein combine two parts of grains and one part of pulses. Cook according to the instructions on the package, mix altogether and freeze in portions. Defrost as needed.

Sprouted grains and pulses is another valuable component – more about it read herehttp://www.african-grey-parrots.co.uk/parrot-forum/index.php?topic=1635.0

Red Palm Nuts – give one, maximum 2 nuts a day
Red Palm Oil or Extract – no more than 1 teaspoon a day, or less if fed Red Palm Nuts

Regular nuts – limit to about 3-4 (depending on size) nuts a day.

Suggested Nuts:
Pistachios (unsalted!)

Avoid feeding peanuts.

Seed mix – try to get the best seed mix possible and give it as a treat, in the amount of about 1 teaspoon a day, best given in foraging toys.

Food Supplements:

There are a few natural supplements you can consider adding to promote the good condition of your parrot:

Flax seed – grind up about 1/2 teaspoon of flax seed and sprinkle it on food. This will provide valuable essential fatty acids

Spirulina – sprinkle food with just a light dusting (a tiny pinch) of spirulina. Spirulina is an algae extremely rich in protein and other beneficial compounds. It should be given in minute amounts and it will still be very effective. Excessive amounts can lead to health problems.

Kale – this is another algae which is a good source of iron. It can also be added in a minute amount (a tiny pinch) as a light sprinkling on food.

Bee pollen – rich in enzymes and amino acids, can be added to food in the amount of about 1/4 of a teaspoon a couple of times a week

Echinacea – this herb is a natural antibiotic and immune stimulant, which can help birds with chronic conditions and those recovering from illnesses.

Probiotics – probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bactera in the gut, reducing the amount of bad bacteria, and consequently the likelihood of illness. All birds who have been on antibiotics should be given a course of avian probiotics. Feather-pluckers and those recovering from illnes will also benefit from a course of probiotics.

Never feed any foods containing salt or sugar. Salt toxicity in parrots can be fatal. A small amount of salt can lead to toxicity. For this reason avoid feeding table foods.
Parrots are flock animals and enjoy eating with their flock – you. If you want your parrot to be at the table when you are having dinner provide him with his own dish and fill it up with healthy foods, cooked especially for him. This could be a good time to give a treat too.

High-fat foods, like chips or any other deep-fried foods or fatty foods, like butter and high-fat cheese are very harmful too. Just as humans, parrots suffer from high-cholesterol, heart attacks, clogged up arteries, and enlarged liver (which has to to process all that fat!).

To make your parrot’s life just a bit more exciting, consider baking some birdie bread, cooking something like a special birdie pizza or pasta (wholemeal) with tomatoe sauce (a pureed tomatoe with a sprinkle of basil)  Big Grin
For more recipes see here:

Written by Irina of Parrot Comforts your number one source for affordable safe parrot toys.

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