Frequently Asked Questions


Table of Contents

  1. What is the difference between a Congo and a Timneh?
  2. Do Grey's make good family pets?
  3. Do they understand what they are saying?
  4. When will my Grey start talking?
  5. What do I do with my Grey when we go away?
  6. How much sleep does my bird need?
  7. My Congo is only 400 grams, is he sick?
  8. Do I need to "child proof" my home before my grey gets home?
  9. How often do I need to clean my birds cage and dishes?
  10. What size cage does my African Grey need and what do I put inside it?
  11. Can I offer food from my mouth to my bird?
  12. How do parrots react to change?
  13. What do Grey's eat?
  14. Should I be bathing my bird?
  15. Does my bird need toys?
  16. Are there dangers in my home?


What is the difference between a Congo and a Timneh?

The difference between a Congo and a Timneh African Grey is their physical characteristics. CAG and TAG's have the same intelligence and talking abilities.  A Timneh is smaller in size (about 275-350 grams) and their feathers are dark grey with a maroon tail. Their upper beak is a horn color. CAG's are a medium grey with a bright red tail. Ranging in weight from 400-650 grams. Their beak is solid black. 

Please see our About African Greys Article.

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Do Grey's make good family pets?

African Grey's are flock animals. In the wild, they breed within social groups up to 200 birds. With that said, it is easy to include them in our family activities. 

They need to partake in family events (holiday's, special occasions, day to day activities). Pull up a perch and have your bird join you for dinner. Bring a T-Stand in your bathroom and have your grey join you for your daily "grooming" sessions. Grab a towel and sit on the couch with him for some one on one interaction. He will love you eternally for it!  Involving your bird in family functions will strengthen the bond between human and birds.

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Do they understand what they are saying?

Parrots are extremely intelligent animals. As your grey gets older, he will be able to not only talk but to tell you what he wants.  He will be able to string sentences together from words he has learned over time.  Interacting, speaking with enthusiasm and using word association is the key to your grey learning how to speak to identify objects and situations. Parrots have the intelligence of a 5 year old child with the emotions of a 2 year old.

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When will my Grey start talking?

It is not uncommon for an African Grey to not utter a word until they are approximately one to two years. There are the exceptions where a grey may start talking as young as 4 to 6 months of age.  

Interaction with your pet Grey will help him to *want* to talk ~ to be able to communicate with you. They start out in vocalizations; trying to sound out the words, then before you know it they are chit chattering away.  Speak to you bird with enthusiasm and in consistent terminology. 

Please stop by our Talking Article to get more detailed information.

Note: There is no guarantee when you buy an African Grey that he will talk. Some birds are big talkers, others will enjoy making noises heard in the house (microwave, telephone, squeaky door, alarm, etc.). But in any event, the point of having a parrot is because of their curious nature, their adorable antics and the love and trust they give us in return for caring for them.

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What do I do with my bird when we go away?

It is good to plan ahead of time when thinking of taking a vacation away from home. Depending on the age of the bird (*see note down below), the best case scenario is to have someone come to your home to take care of your bird.  You will need to provide them with the following:

I would not recommend someone caring for your birds if they are not familiar with birds.  They need special care and most people do not realize that.

If you do not have someone who can come to your home, you will need to find a place that can board your birds. This increases the risk of transference of diseases, so be wary and check the places out. Local bird clubs, veterinarians ~ Recommendations are your best bet.  

I would like to caution you of allowing your birds into a person's home that does not know the "way" of parrots.  There are risks of toxin exposure and teflon poisoning if they own non-stick pans.  There are so many variables that need to be explained. Birds are so sensitive to smells and chemicals.  Any non-stick pan, candles, etc. are potential dangers to birds (Ceiling fans, open doors, etc if they are not clipped).

*If you are bringing home a baby bird, it is not a good idea to be leaving him for about the first year of his life. This can cause a separation anxiety, unnecessary stress and potential behavioral issues may arise. Grey's need to be close with their new families the first year of their life. It creates a strong bond and they feel safe and secure with you.

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How much sleep does my bird need?

Parrots need 12-14 hours total sleep a day. When their sleep time is compromised, they can be a bit "grumpy" and show it in different ways.

If you parrot's cage is in a spot where there will be people watching TV or talking late at night; don't think your bird is sleeping just because he is covered. 

Remember parrots are wild by nature, it is instinctive for them to stay awake under those covers until all is still and dark in the night.  Which brings up another topic of where their cage is located.  The most ideal situation is to have sleep cages for your birds in their own room.  Of course, this is not always possible in some situations. But it is possible to try to have your bird's cage located in an area where there is minimal traffic so that they can receive appropriate sleep.  It is my opinion that cages should not be located in a human's bedroom for that same reason.

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My Congo is only 400 grams! Is he sick?

CAG and TAG have different size frames of their bodies, just as we humans do.  Of course if you see signs of ailment, get to the vet ASAP!

Since parrots are prey animals and it is instinctive for them to hide sickness from appearing weak. We as humans, need to look for the signs before it is too late. Here are just a few signs of when your bird might be showing illness:

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Do I need to childproof my home before my grey gets home?

Bringing home your baby bird ~ Congratulations!! Have your cage ready and set up for him. It is important for a bird to have their own cage. It will avoid those dangerous leisurely walks through the house. Curiosity of the electrical cords, plants that are potentially toxic and all of the other "whatnots" that we take for granted.

A cage should become your parrots home and "safe haven".

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How often do I need to clean my bird's cage and dishes?

If you are asking this question, then you probably are not cleaning them often enough.

Perches and cages should be wiped down & disinfected daily to remove any and all debris. 

All water and food dishes should be cleaned & disinfected more than once daily. I change my flock's water dishes at a minimum three times a day. They like to make "soup" with their food in the water dishes and with soup comes a build up of bacteria. All food dishes are washed and disinfected daily. Bird safe product for washing: Oxyfresh Cleansing Gele and Avicine Disinfectant 

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What size cage does my African Grey need and what do I put inside it?

Parrots should be housed separately to avoid problems with cage mates. If you work full time and your Grey is spending the majority of his day inside the cage he will need a larger cage. If your Grey will only be sleeping in his cage and spending his days on his playstand, the cage does not have to be as large.

A good size cage for an African Grey spending his days in the cage is 3'w x 2'd x 3'h with 1" bar spacing for a CAG and .75" bar spacing for a TAG. You also need to take into consideration if you have inside feeders, adding the toys and perches - is there enough room for your grey to play?

Perches should be the size of your bird's talon. Usually about .75" to 1" in diameter. You should have a variety of perch types inside the cage.  Be careful with Manzanita Perches. They can be slippery. A good carpenter's file will scuff up the wood to give your bird's foot traction. Slippery perches can be harmful.

A variety of toys is needed for your African Grey.  I have realized over time that my flock of greys do not like overly large toys. Never buy toys that are not the right size for your bird.  Toys that are too bulky will not even be touched by my flock. My birds like wood toys, acrylic toys, etc. Analyze your bird to find out what his likes and dislikes are. Each bird has individual needs. Birds love toys with lots of hanging parts so they can dangle upside down from them and attack them while they are screaming at them!  Check our great bird-safe toys, swings, gyms & more at Avian Naturals - Bird Toys exclusively with Stainless Steel Hardware!!

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Can I offer food from my mouth to my bird?

Plain and simple... NO!  Humans carry an incredible amount of bacteria in their mouth which can be easily transferred to your bird. 

Keep those beakie kisses dry!

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How do parrots react to change?

When speaking of Grey’s in particular, I feel it is important for them as babies to be introduced to as many new things as possible. Safe outings, car trips in a pet carrier, harnesses, new objects, all the rooms in your home, etc. Once your young grey is patterned to accept change your lives together will be unsurpassing. (Note: By stating patterned I mean in a delicate manner to fit the personality of your grey as an individual. The bird’s safety is always the first priority.)  Even older parrots can be re-patterned to accept change if it is done with love and patience.

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What do African Grey's eat?

Birds as a general rule eat a variety of foods. It is a personal decision whether to feed your bird a pellet or a seed diet. In any event, they both should be supplemented with lots of fruits and vegetables. Please see my Safe Foods, Diet Info and Toxic Foods Page for more a more in depth look at nutrition and how it effects your bird. Also visit To Peel Or Not To Peel: Parrots & Living Foods Naturally

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Should I be bathing my bird?

YES!  It is a natural behavior for a parrot to bathe. Some birds are easier to convince than others. Some birds happen to enjoy showers rather a low ceramic bowl of lukewarm water. You may even want to add some Natural Aloe Juice (George’s Aloe Juice is 100% natural) to the water. Aloe has wonderful healing properties and helps moisturize their feathers and skin.


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Does my bird need toys?

Yes.  Buy a variety of different kinds of toys. Keeping in mind, not all toys are for all birds. For example: A toy you would buy for a large macaw would *not* be fit for an Amazon or an African Grey.  And the adverse, a toy for a Parakeet would not be a toy you would give to your African Grey or Amazon.  Giving toys to birds that are *not* meant for their size can be dangerous. We need to be cautious of the toys we give our beloved parrot friends. Checking them for fraying and clipping it back (don't want to get those toes caught!), checking that the toy is secured to its Quick Link on the cage (you do not want him or her to fall from a toy and harm him/herself). Making sure the Quick Links are secure and tight (we know how our parrots are inquisitive - make sure it’s tight).

If your parrot is young, we recommend buying soft pine wood toys and maybe some acrylic toys.  Manzanita wood is a very hard wood and can be used later on when the bird is older and can readily chew it.

My Greys happen to like toys that are of soft pine (easy to chew and destroy). With lots of hanging & dangling parts (what better to attack and scream at), acrylic, cotton toys (be wary that your bird does *not* ingest any of the rope or cotton material - Look for fragments in the bottom of the cage for a clue). They also like it when the size is not too large, more of a medium to small in size.

I also like to rotate their toys. It help keeps their interest in their toys constant, helps them to become used to new and exciting toys. 

Note on Toy Attachments: Some of the attachments that come with toys may not be the best thing to use. For example: Key Chain Rings ~ Bird's can get their tongue, beak and/or toes caught in key chain rings. We recommend Stainless Steel Quick Links for extra security and removes the possibility of Zinc Toxicosis.

Be sure to stop by my new The Art of Toy Making Article!

We recommend AVIAN NATURALS for all your bird safe supplies! Grey Feather Toy Creations: All stainless steel toys, natural parrot foods, swings, gyms and more

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Are there dangers in my home?

Yes!! Insecticides, Teflon (any non-stick pans or surface), cleaning products, ammonia, cigarette/cigar smoke, ceiling fans, pots of boiling water, an open flame on the stove, other pets (dogs, cats), electrical cords, some houseplants, potting soil, aerosols and basically anything harmful for a human to eat is harmful to your pet bird.

Please see our Articles page for the Toxins Section

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