African Grey parrots are popular pet birds known for their high intelligence and attractive colouration. These parrots have the ability to mimic humans, other animals, and mechanical sounds, and can live for over 70 years. This long lifespan means some parrots will have multiple owners. It can be hard to tell how old an African Grey parrot is between the beginning of adulthood and old age, but juveniles are easy to identify.
Look for a breeder tag on the parrot's ankle. This small metal or plastic tag should be imprinted with the breeder's initials and a number. Breeders keep detailed records of the hatching dates of all their birds, and should be able to provide you with a full pedigree based on the tag number.
Examine the bird's eye colour. An African Grey parrot 6 months old or younger usually has dark grey or black eyes. After the age of 6 months, their eyes steadily lighten, becoming light grey around the age of 1 year. By 18 months to 2 years, the eye colour becomes a very pale yellow brown, and by the age of 3 to 4, African Greys have light yellow eyes. Once the eyes have turned yellow, it's harder to identify the bird's age.
Look at the parrot's plumage, especially the tail feathers. Juvenile African Grey parrots have dark grey tail feathers. Adults have bright red or maroon tail feathers.
Measure and weigh the parrot. Adult Congo African Greys are usually between 12 and 14 inches long and between 397 and 652gr, while Timneh African Grey parrots are 9 to 11 inches long and between 284 and 397gr. Smaller birds may look like adults, but may not have reached their full growth, placing them at the early end of the mature age range.
Consult an avian specialist vet for an exam. Avian veterinarians may be able to help you determine your bird's age. An experienced avian vet has seen many African Grey parrots and can determine the age range of the bird from behaviour and health signs that amateurs may not see. Vets may also perform an endoscopy to sex the parrot and identify its level of sexual maturity. It's also possible to have a vet check your bird's hormone levels. This can help determine whether a female African Grey is fertile, past her fertile period, or if she has not yet reached it. Females cease being fertile at around 40 years of age.
African Grey parrots reach maturity between 3 and 6 years of age. If you know where the bird came from, you may be able to get information from previous owners about the bird's age or the original breeder.