The African grey parrot is one of the most commonly kept large parrots in homes throughout the world. They may lack the brilliant coloring of their macaw cousins, but they more than make up for it with their staggering verbal abilities. This makes them a very popular species.
The average African grey’s extensive vocabulary demonstrates the intensity of their intelligence. They are known to give appropriate verbal responses in unrehearsed situations without coaching. Many owners claim to “converse” with their African greys.
However, perhaps an unfortunate side effect to their intelligence, they are known to be excessively fearful and phobic. This hyper-sensitivity to handling and their environment is often demonstrated with fear based behaviors, such as unwillingness to interact and biting.
Tragically, the unhappy grey eventually gets around to feather plucking. In fact, in captivity, the ratio of unplucked to plucked African greys is about 3:1 – a remarkably high percentage.
Don't let your bird be a statistic
Many of the plucked and fearful African greys in captivity come from what most would consider to be good homes with conscientious people who provide good care, but have missed, or misinterpreted, the warning signs.
- Does your bird show reluctance to step up on your hand?
- Does he lunge for your fingers when you reach for him?
- Does he retreat to the corner of his cage when you or another family member come near?
These are all vivid indications that trouble is brewing with your African grey. No doubt you are scratching your head right now, wondering where you went wrong…and more importantly, wondering how you can fix it!
How to keep your African Grey from being unhappy
You have a species of bird that is fearful by nature, which makes it constantly on high alert and looking for things to be afraid of! It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.
The key to a happy African grey begins and ends with confidence. A confident bird feels secure and trusts that his environment is safe. A confident bird welcomes new toys in its cage, doesn’t have a meltdown during thunder storms, and regards the family dog as a nuisance and nothing more.
You will accomplish this by creating a deep and lasting bond with your bird. Once trust is established, the world is a much less threatening place. Confidence grows as each new experience has a positive result and the timid African grey discovers there is nothing to be afraid of after all.
Your African Grey is waiting for you to show him/her the way
Birds innately recognize the fact that there is safety in numbers and because our companion parrots consider us flock mates, they want and need the security of a trusting relationship with their humans.
The fastest way to a bird’s heart is usually through its stomach – most birds will not pass up an opportunity to earn a treat. This fact makes it easy to begin training with positive reinforcement. Whether it is your intention to train your bird to do elaborate tricks, or whether you simply want to use training as a tool to establish and retain trust, our DVD Reality Series “One Day Miracles” will show you how to change your relationship with your African grey and help it to become confident and happy.