African Grey parrots are popular pets among bird lovers, as they are extremely intelligent and can say simple words and phrases. African Greys need careful attention and handling to become tame while young. Once adopted, these parrots need considerable care when so they feel safe. An adult African Grey parrot that is neglected can develop behaviour problems such as biting and become wild again, but it is possible with persistence and attention to tame it again.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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- African Grey parrot
Buy your parrot from a breeder who pulled it from the mother's nest as a baby and who has hand fed it, so that it will be used to human handling. Hand-fed baby parrots make the tamest birds. Only buy one African Grey parrot, because if you have two they will bond to each other and become wild. A single parrot will seek out a human for love and attention.
When you bring your parrot home, let the bird get used to its surroundings by leaving it alone in the cage for a few days. This works best in a calm household. Talk as much as you can in a quiet and kindly voice to the bird. Say its name in a calm voice often.
After a couple of days, open the parrot's cage door, but do not reach inside and try to bring it out. See if the parrot will come out and climb on top of the cage on its own. You can try to entice your parrot out of the cage by placing food on top. If the bird comes out, it probably will go back in soon. If not, coax it into the cage with food, or try to get your parrot to step up onto your hand.
Try to hand feed your African Grey. Hold a treat in your fingers and try to coax your bird to take it. Praise your bird if it takes the food. If the parrot does not take the food from your hand, place it down where the bird can get it and then praise the parrot if it eats. Eventually, the bird will make the connection that it wants the food and will take it from your hand. Praise the parrot when that happens.
Teach your parrot to step up on your wrist. Fold your hand into a fist and put your wrist in front of your parrot, say the command "step up". Be patient and repeat this many times a day. If your parrot timidly reaches out with one foot even, praise the bird enthusiastically and give it a treat. Try holding a treat in your other hand, just beyond your wrist, so that the parrot will have to step up onto your wrist to reach the treat. Always say the words "step up" when you want your bird to step up.
Teach your parrot what the word "no" means. Say the word "no" firmly when your parrot does something wrong such as attempting to bite you. Be consistent with the words you use. Make sure all household members use the same commands.
Take your parrot out of its cage several times a day and hold it for several hours. You may need to give your bird more than several hours of attention if it has become wild. Be patient and persistent, and you will be successful. Keep your African Grey parrot entertained, because these birds are so smart, they can get bored and become wild and destructive. Signs of boredom are plucking their own feathers and chewing constantly on the bars of the cage. Get appropriate chew toys and hang them in the bird's cage. Change the toys often to add variety.
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