The African grey parrot is one of the largest parrots in Africa. It is predominantly grey in color and has darker grey than its body over the head and both wings. The head and body feathers have slight white edges. Its tail feathers are red. The coloration of juveniles is similar to that of adults; however, their eyes are dark grey to black, in comparison to the yellow irises around dark eyes of the adult birds, and their undertail coverts are tinged with grey.
African grey parrots are native to equatorial Africa, including Angola, Cameroon, the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. They are found inside a range from Kenya to the eastern part of the Ivory Coast. These birds favor dense forests, but can also be found at forest edges, mangrove forest, and in more open vegetation types, such as gallery and savanna forests. They can also visit cultivated areas and even gardens.
African grey parrots are gregarious and very noisy birds especially at night when they gather in large flocks to sleep together in tall trees. During the day, they prefer to spend time in smaller groups and fly long distances to forage. African grey parrots feed mainly in the canopy climbing from one branch to another but may also take clay and mineral soil on the ground. These birds communicate with each other using high-pitched screams and whistles. They also use contact calls, which allow them to interact with their flock mates and communicate information about their location, detection of predators, availability of food, and safety status. In addition, contact calls are used to form strong social bonds with their flock mates.
African grey parrots are monogamous and have lifelong pair bonds. They breed in loose colonies but each pair needs their own tree for nesting. Nests are located in tree cavities where the female lays 3 to 5 eggs. She incubates them for 30 days while being fed by her mate. Both parents defend their nesting sites and help take care of the chicks until they can go off on their own. The young leave the nest at the age of 12 weeks and become completely independent from their parents at 2-3 years of age. Reproductive maturity is reached when they are 3 to 5 years old.
African grey parrots are the most popular avian pets and are suffering from the international pet trade. Between 1994 and 2003, more than 359,000 grey parrots were traded on the international market. Approximately 21% of the wild population was being harvested every year. These beautiful birds are also hunted for their meat and for their parts, which are used in traditional medicines. As a result of the extensive harvest of wild birds, in addition to habitat loss, African grey parrots are believed to be undergoing a rapid decline in the wild and therefore, have been rated as endangered.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total African grey parrot population size is around 560,000-12.7 million individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are decreasing.
Feeding upon a wide variety of tree fruits, African grey parrots play a very important role in dispersing seeds of these fruits, thus sustaining many tree species.