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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին

28.02.2012

African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus)


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Subfamily: Psittacinae
Genus: Psittacus
Species: Psittacus erithacus

 

Description

The African Grey Parrot is one of the largest Parrots of Africa. It achieves a body-length up to 33 centimeter and a weight around 400 gram. The species is divided in two subspecies: Congo African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) and Timneh African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh). Referring to its name the plumage of the African Grey Parrot is mostly gray, but contains various gray shades. The face is white and around the eyes feathers lack. Whereas the Congo African Grey Parrot is bright gray, has a black bill, a yellow iris and the tail is shiny red, the feathers of the Timneh African Gray Parrot are darker, the upper beak is rosy-brow and the red tail feathers are darker maroon. Also the iris differs and tends to more silver than yellow. In general individuals of the Timneh species are a bit smaller than Congo African Grey Parrots.

Range and Habitat

The African Grey Parrot is endemic to the forest belt of Western and Central Africa. The two subspecies live in different parts of this range. Whereas the Congo Parrot is found in the area between Kenia and the eastern part of Ivory Coast, the range of Timneh Parrots is placed between Eastern Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau. Grey Parrot prefer to live in wooded areas as gallery forests, mangroves and humid savannahs. They roost in trees over water, which are often placed on save islands in rivers or sees. Normally the birds are resident, but in the western parts of the range seasonal movements arise in the dry season.

Reproduction

When African Grey Parrots get mature in an age between 3 and 5 years they form a lifelong pair bond with an other Grey Parrot. Only a few details are available about courtship of wild individuals but displays around the nesting sites were recorded. The birds live in loose colonies in which each pair nest in its own tree. They don't build nests on their own but use holes in trees. Typical of them is the courtship feeding in which the male bird feeds the female and monotonous singing of both genders. There is no exact time for breeding but it seems to coincide with the dry-season. They breed once or twice a year and the female bird lays 3 to 5 eggs in an interval of 2 to 5 days. After approximately one month the young African Grey Parrots hatch. While the female incubates, the mate defends the nest and fed its partner. 12 weeks after hatching the young birds leave the nest but are still fed and protected by their parents until they become independent.

Behavior

African Grey Parrots are highly social birds. Roosting often takes place in large flocks but unlike than many other parrots species, which form mixed flocks, the groups consist exclusively of African Grey Parrots. No other species is allowed to join them. During day they are searching for food in smaller groups and often fly long distances to feeding grounds. At night they flock together again. Although young birds socialize with birds of their age, they stay in their family for several years. In the beginning of their life parents and older flock members look after the young flock members and teach them until they are able to become a autonomous individual within the group. During breeding season the species is quite aggressive because of competition for suitable nests. African Grey Parrots are attacked and preyed on by palm-nut vultures and several species hawks. Sometimes eggs are stolen by monkeys. Because the Grey Parrots often feed on the ground they are also vulnerable to terrestrial predators.

Diet

The diet of Grey Parrots is based on seeds, nuts, fruits and berries. The birds pick it up in treetops and also search food on cultivated areas as grain fields. Their feet is perfectly built for climbing in the trees. Particularly oil-palm nuts are their preferred food. In West Africa they often cause huge damage on maize fields.

Communication

Vocalization is very important for this social species! At night the big flock of parrots is quiet but during the day they are quite noisy birds. Already before sunrise they start to vocalize in order to forgather in their smaller groups in which they fly out to find food. Aside identification of flock mates the noises also serve as alarm signals and begging calls. African Grey Parrots aren't only able to imitate human voice but have the competence to understand patterns of music and speech. This gives them the possibility to use noises and speech in context.

Intelligence

The African Grey Parrot is considered to be one of the most intelligent species of all animals. They show outstanding competences in learning speech, cognition and insightful behavior. In some tests the birds were able to develop problem-solving strategies by using a deliberate communication. It is assumed that their intelligence is comparable to the cognitive capacities of a 3 years old child. Some parts of their behavior match those of some non-human primates.

Conservation Status

There is an evidence that through most of the range of African Grey Parrots population declines. It is suggested that up to 21% of the global population is harvested every year. This is furthermore combined with a strong habitat loss. Therefor the number of individuals decreases drastically and on the Red List of threatened animals of IUCN the species is listed as Near Threatened. All in all the African Grey Parrot is said to be the second most traded and domesticated parrot. It is a very popular pet in Europe, the USA and the Middle East because of its longevity, intelligence and ability to speak. In the years from 1994 to 2003 trade activities were huge! In the last years in China the demand grew as well and it is assumed that illegal trade decreased. There is an evidence that through most of the range of African Grey Parrots population declines. It is suggested that up to 21% of the global population is harvested every year. This is furthermore combined with a strong habitat loss. Therefor the number of individuals decreases drastically and on the Red List of threatened animals of IUCN the species is listed as Near Threatened. All in all the African Grey Parrot is said to be the second most traded and domesticated parrot. It is a very popular pet in Europe, the USA and the Middle East because of its longevity, intelligence and ability to speak. In the years from 1994 to 2003 trade activities were huge! In the last years in China the demand grew as well and it is assumed that illegal trade decreased.

African Grey Parrot and Human

Already in the middle Age the ownership of parrots was a symbol of wealth and power. The training of these animals became a popular hobby. The trend spread and lead to intensive trade. Between 1980 and 1995 a number of 500 000 wild African Grey Parrots were caught and more than half of these animals were exported. Indeed, humans often gave them undeserving living conditions. This wrong treatment often leads to self-destructive behavior as plucking feathers and medical problems. In order to avoid these problems, it is very important that an owner promises enough space, a healthy diet and especially company of at least one other parrot and possibilities for activities.

 

  • Like many other parrots the lifespan of African Gray Parrots is quite long. It is said to be around 50 years. However, there are also reports which claim that there were birds which achieved an age about 73 years.
  • The African Grey Parrot is considered to be one of the most intelligent species of animals.
  • Alex, the most famous African Grey Parrot, was able to to identify, categorize and quantify 100 different objects.

 

 



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