You may be curious about how long you can expect your ‘partner in crime’ to stick around if you have an African grey parrot or are considering adding one to your family. How long do African grey parrots live in the wild? Spoiler alert: it might take a very long time, but you have to make sure that happens.
Let’s explore the lifespan of African grey parrots and how you can prolong the life of your own bird.
Overview of the African Grey Parrot
African Grey parrots are actually two different species of parrots that are related to each other. The scientific name for the Congo African Grey (CAG) is Psittacus erithacus, which means “parrot.”
The Congo variety of these parrots measures 12.8 inches (33 cm) and weighs about 14 ounces (400 g). They are fairly big parrots. The Timneh African Grey (TAG) is a 10-inch (25,4 cm) and 11,2-ounce (320 g) companion parrot that is somewhat smaller than the average. Psittacus timneh is the scientific name for this species.
Deforestation and intense trapping for the pet trade have drastically diminished their numbers, which formerly covered much of Africa. They feed at the tops of trees and prefer primary and secondary rainforests as their natural habitat. When roosting, huge communal flocks develop, and foraging groups form out of them.
Grey parrots with red tail feathers are the most common species. The underside of the tail of birds older than 18 months may be used to sex them with certainty. Males have a crimson tail, while females have a silver-tipped tail.
How Long Do African Grey Parrots Live?
The Congo African grey parrot and the Timneh African grey parrot are two different subspecies of the African grey parrot.
These two subspecies appear to be very similar to the untrained eye. The lifespan of African grey parrots does not seem to vary much between the two species, and they both live for the same amount of time. In captivity, both subspecies may survive for 50 years.
They can live up to 80 years in the wild, with one parrot known to have lived to the age of 90!
Why African grey parrot life expectancy in captivity is lower than it is in the wild is a source of confusion for many pet owners. As is the case with practically every other species, this is especially true.
Nonetheless, there are a number of elements that influence the mortality rate of African grey parrots in captivity versus in the wild.
How Long Do African Grey Parrots Live as Pets (In-Captivity)
Most African grey parrots live around 20 to 30 years when housed as pets, which is a far shorter lifespan than that of wild birds.
In the wild, an average African grey lives between 40 and 60 years old, with some reaching 80.
In captivity, the shortened lifespan of an African grey is most likely due to issues that are not as important in the wild.
In my experience, dietary mistakes are the leading cause of early mortality, with greys having unusually special nutritional requirements like extra calcium, which may result in fits.
Since African greys are prone to obesity, a diet low in fat is also required. As a result, seeds and nuts should make up no more than 10% of a grey’s diet.
Since parrots notoriously hide illnesses and by the time they become symptomatic, they are already circling the drain, annual checkups by a qualified avian veterinarian are also critical.
Ricky Klugman, a veteran African grey owner, advises that yearly bloodwork is required to determine if your gray is getting all essential nutritional needs.
The environment at home is the second leading cause of early deaths. Natural lighting, for example, is required by African grey parrots in indoor cages but is not always available.
Moreover, in most temperate locations, these birds do best at temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.
To keep your birds comfortable, most often, you’ll need to add extra lighting to your greys cage, as well as overhead full-spectrum light.
These techniques, while not guaranteed to extend your birdie’s life, are preferable than if they were not used.
What is the lifespan of an African grey parrot in the wild?
A single species (Psittacus erithacus) and a subspecies (Psittacus erithacus timneh) formerly existed in the genus Psittacus (African grey parrots). Psittacus timneh, sometimes known as the Timneh African grey parrot, has now been elevated to the status of a distinct species.
The two African grey species have several tiny but significant distinctions in the wild that aren’t seen in the same places. Their possible lifespans, on the other hand, appear to be about equal.
Wild African grey parrots may live for a long time. A significant number of them, as one would expect, don’t even make it to adulthood. African grey life in the wild might be dangerous, with disease, raptors, and other predators posing threats.
In a 2002 research, Ryan (2002) estimated the average lifespan of an African grey parrot in the wild to be 22.7 years, which is quite good given the hazards they face.
How Old is The Oldest African Grey Parrot
The majority of information on the first African grey parrots is inconclusive. Churchill is said to have a CAG who lived to the age of 104, although there is little proof for this.
Tarbu, a Congo grey owned by Nina Morgan and lived to the age of 55, is perhaps the most compelling and best-documented account of the oldest African grey I’ve yet had.
The parrot was reportedly rescued as a chick from an animal dealer in Tanzania, where Nina worked as a flight engineer, in 1957, according to UK news sources.
But, there are undoubtedly ancient African greys whose tales have not been recorded, maybe because they’ve stopped going to message boards after having a parrot for so long.
In online communities and birding circles, where new bird owners with young greys swap tips they’ve acquired in their brief time owning parrots, you’ll almost certainly only find newer bird owners.
What influences the lifespan of an African grey parrot?
You’re probably wondering what you can do to make sure yours stays with you for years to come now that we’ve established that African grey parrots are truly friends for life. For a second, let’s go serious:
It’s crucial to consider things through before adopting an African grey, as with all domestic parrots. They are as reliant on you for their health and well-being as a dog or even a kid in certain instances, and they need the same amount of care, attention, and stimulation.
If you keep your parrot in a cage and view it as little more than a showpiece, it will have no chance of surviving. You’ll have to be ready to provide excellent care and a great deal of affection for a long period of your life in order to be a great African grey parrot owner!
So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what it means in practice. What are the key factors that influence the lifespan of a domestic African grey parrot?
Domestic parrot lifespan is undoubtedly influenced by diet, and for the most part, it is also determined by this. The issue is that many people still believe in myths regarding parrot nutrition: most individuals who haven’t done specific study on parrot care still believe they can survive on seeds.
When wild African grey parrots can get their hands on seeds, they devour them. Nonetheless, their preference is for fruits, and they are primarily frugivorous. Fruits, which have a high sugar concentration, provide wild greys with the energy they need, so this makes sense! Enciclopaedia Brittanica (2018) ranks oil palm fruits as a top choice.
African grey parrots in the wild will devour practically anything they can find. Some leaves, flowers, tree bark, and even any unlucky bug that happens to be in front of their strong beaks are consumed as supplements to their diet. They’ll also eat from the crops in farmer’s fields.
African Grey Parrot Lifespan – The Impact of Malnutrition
One of the biggest factors is nutrition.
Several African grey parrots are fed diets that are unsuitable, resulting in them receiving too much of something they don’t need, insufficient of something they do.
African grey parrots in the wild are foragers, and their diets include a wide range of foods. African grey parrots consume a wide range of seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and vegetables each day.
Vitamin A deficiency, calcium deficiency, and hypocalcemia may occur if your parrot’s commercial seed-based diet is insufficient.
Hypocalcemia, which may cause seizures in African grey parrots, is a particular concern. Reproductive problems, feather issues, and infections can all be caused or exacerbated by an unbalanced or irregular diet.
An incorrect diet can quickly impair your bird’s immunological response, allowing for a variety of additional illnesses to take hold.
How Can You Tell How Old an African Grey Is
If you haven’t had your parrot since it was a chick, it’s difficult to determine its age with most parrot species.
For example, determining the age of a bird you haven’t raised is impossible after a cockatiel has reached its full adult plumage.
A two-year-old bird may seem to be the same as a twelve-year-old bird. That said, while DNA testing can determine the age of a bird, such as an African parrot, it’s fairly probable that you’re overkill if you’re just curious.
So, what else are you considering? So, to put it another way, there are a few methods at work here, although the outcomes are not always spot on. African greys reach sexual maturity around the age of four to five, which is when they first begin breeding.
They generally stay the same in terms of look for approximately 6 months, with dark-grey to black juvenile birds having a yellow iris around dark pupils in adult birds.
This suggests that from the age of one to five, your African grey eyes will change color.
The iris will turn to a lighter grey at the age of one, and they will have dark grey to black eyes by the age of six. The iris will change to a light straw yellow color at around 2 years old, and it will darken to a deeper yellow color between the ages of 3 and 5.
Molting is another characteristic to watch for in younger African greys. Between the ages of 8 and 24 months, these parrots begin to lose their soft, downy feathers.
Size and weight are the next ways to determine your birdie’s age.
Between 12 and 14 inches from beak to tail, an average-sized African grey bird weighs between 400 and 600 grams. As a result, your parrot is most likely younger than 5 years if it meets the following criteria.
Despite all of that, I believe it is necessary to emphasize that if you haven’t been interested in monitoring your African grey’s age once he or she reaches 5 years old, there is no way.
How do most African greys die?
Despite new laws and trade restrictions, African grey parrots are still being caught in the wild and sold in the exotic pet market. According to estimates, the trapper will lose over 40% of the wild-caught birds before selling them. More losses mean that over 60% of the birds will have perished before being sold as pets by the time they reach a trading hub.
Due to their dependence on natural salt licks, these clever birds are often trapped and hunted in the wild. These birds, on the other hand, are not always seen as friends. In traditional medicine, African greys are consumed and used as bush meat.
African grey parrots are prey to a range of predators, illnesses, and severe weather conditions in the wild. Predation, flooding, overgrowing vegetation, and the destruction or harvest of the trees where chicks and eggs nest are all threats to chicks and eggs.
Appearance and Vocalizations of the African Grey
The African Grey Parrot is a robust parrot with a short tail. On closer inspection, what seems to be a monotonous grey plumage is revealed to have a modest scalloping of its feathers. This bird mimics other birds and mammals in the wild, producing a range of cries, shrieks, and whistles.
While the Timnehs grow faster and may begin speaking at six months old, both TAGs and CAGs can communicate. Timnehs, like Congo Grays, do not imitate a human voice as accurately.
They can create enormous vocabularies and, when presented with a large number of words, they may understand what they truly mean and utilize them appropriately. Here’s a clip of an African Grey demonstrating its vocal abilities.
Obtaining an African grey parrot
Pet shops, reputable breeders, and several rescue organizations all sell Italian greys. Older, wild, colony, or parent-raised birds may be more difficult to tame and train because they are harder to tame and train. Young birds may be easier to tame and train than older birds.
Since they have been extensively socialized with humans, hand-raised infants are often easier to care for. To help promote a calm, well-adjusted pet, new birds should be exposed to a variety of situations (young and old people, males and females, other pets, car trips, and veterinary visits) as early as possible. A veterinarian who is knowledgeable about birds should check all new birds.
How Should I Care For an African Grey?
At room temperature, African Greys do well, and their cage should be placed away from drafts. The cage should be 48Hx36Wx24D inches (122Hx91Wx61D cm) in size with 3/4-inch (1,9 cm) bar spacing at a bare minimum. To allow the birds to climb easily, horizontal sidebars should be included.
Perches should be placed as low in the cage as possible, especially for younger birds who may be less steady when climbing, as previously stated. Your parrot’s nails must be kept short. The first serious molt occurs around the age of 11 months, and these parrots have their first one around the age of 8 months.
To keep its feathers in good condition, your parrot must get wet. Some birds prefer to be sprayed or misted, while others prefer to bath in a shallow water bowl, so you may have to experiment until you find the best way.
High-quality pellets, as well as a wide range of fresh fruits and veggies, especially those with high levels of calcium and Vitamin A, should be included in the diet. The birds have a clutch of one to three eggs and may be bred year-round.
Feeding your Parrot For Longevity – Getting it Right
You should provide your African grey parrot pellets with a significant particle size instead of seed-based diets.
Your parrot’s diet should be mostly made up of these pellets.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up the majority of the diet, with a little lean protein such as cooked eggs, chicken, or turkey thrown in for good measure.
You can find the best African grey parrot foods with our guide.
What are the predators of African greys?
At every stage of their life, African grey parrots are prey to predators. Amongst nesting African greys’ main predators are palm-nut vultures and other raptors, although squirrels and people are threats as well.
Adult African grey parrots are also likely to be hunted by carnivorous mammals, birds of prey, and larger reptiles like pythons. Adults African greys are likewise trapped and hunted by humans, both for the pet trade and for nourishment and medicinal purposes.