Congo African Grey Problems
The Congo African grey is one of the most intelligent companion bird on the planet, as well as the most closely studied. They can speak, and with specific training, comprehend, thousands of words and mimic more sounds than you can keep track of.
A bird this intelligent is bound to have some pretty big problems, right? They’re bound to be needy and precocious and demanding, right? Especially when brought into captivity, yes?
Yes and no. The Congo African grey, most certainly needs plenty of attention from their owners, excellent care and stimulation… however with regular attention to their socialization and training they’re a great companion bird with few problems.
However, when behavior problems do arise, and we’re talking about behaviors like biting, screaming, and feather plucking, they are generally the result of something missing from your Congo African grey’s environment. Let’s take a look at these behaviors individually and examine the elements that can cause the behavior.
Congo African Grey Biting:
Congo African grey’s have the reputation of being a bird prone to biting. This isn’t really a fair reputation. The majority of biting
issues are related to not being properly socialized. In short, the bird bites because they’re afraid or disapproving of something and biting is the only way for them to tell you. So you see calling them biting birds or mean birds isn’t fair if they’re biting because they’re afraid. How else are they supposed to protect themselves? Especially since most bird owners clip the wings of their pets almost immediately as most pet shops, breeders and vets highly recommend this for the bird’s safety not to fly and hurt themselves… we HIGHLY disagree with this and believe a bird cannot be ultimately healthy if it cannot exercise properly by flight. A bird’s respiratory doesn’t even work properly unless in flight! Their entire being is built around being able to fly, so why bring them into our homes to enjoy only to take that away? The one thing that makes them unique from so many other mammals. Flight can be something both your bird and you can enjoy if you do the proper flight training.
However when it comes to every day skills, in order to properly socialize your Congo African grey, plan on having an abundance of patience, lots of love and understanding, and the desire to build a strong bond of love and trust with your grey. And maybe some treats on hand, too!
Why lots of patience? Well imagine someone is trying to get you to not be afraid of them and they’re 20 times your size and they speak a language you don’t completely understand and they’re picking you up and touching you and asking you to do things you don’t understand or don’t want to do. Are you going to immediately go “oh, okay I’m going to trust this person” or is it going to take some time for you to learn to trust them? Training bridges the gap of speaking different languages, that’s why it is so important to implement with parrots.
Other reasons a Congo African grey may develop a biting habit are because they’re bored, sexually frustrated – this happens during sexual maturity, and stressed by their environment.
Your first step to stopping the biting behavior is to first make sure your bird is receiving optimal care. This means they’re getting plenty of good sleep (12 hours per night), have a quality pellet based diet (natural, natural, natural and oh did I say, natural?!) with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and they are getting lots of out of the cage time with you. For more information on the diet see Congo African grey diet.
The second step is to spend time with your Congo African grey every day training them. Not only will this training eliminate current biting habits, it will go a long way toward preventing any future behavior issues. Sign up for our free newsletter to get more training information. You will be shocked at how little it takes to train and how fast these parrots catch onto it! I’ve taught tricks in under 2 minutes once a bird understood the premise of training. When you are able to speak the same language, everything else falls into place. Your training sessions should literally not exceed over 5 minutes and should be more-so around a minute and a half to two minutes! Always leave your bird wanting more (as well as yourself) to keep it fun and interesting.
It is important to note that if your Congo already has a biting habit, immediately evaluate how you react to this behavior. Quite possibly your reactions are reinforcing the behavior. Aggressive reactions like yelling or hitting will breed more aggression. Remember parrots think, “fight or flight” and when you take their ability to fly away from a situation that makes them uncomfortable you’re just asking for a fight.
Dramatic reactions like giving your bird a time out or screaming and jerking your hand away may give them the attention they’re seeking or simply be the creation of bad habits which will encourage them to repeat the behavior. The best reaction from you is no reaction at all. Successful training begins with reinforcing the positive behaviors and doing your darnedest to ignore the negative behaviors.
Congo African Grey Screaming.
Screaming behaviors often come from boredom, jealousy, or plain old unhappiness. Like biting behaviors your first step is to make sure you’re providing an optimal environment. Congo African greys need a large cage to move around in during the day and when you can’t be with them they’ll want an abundance of toys to keep their sharp minds busy. You can use toys like food finding toys where the bird has to figure out how to get to its meal. This will keep your bird busy and entertained without needing you to be right there to entertain it.
In addition to toys for their mind don’t forget toys for them to chew on, climb on, and just play with. Perches and climbing branches will also help give them exercise when they’re inside the cage. There are edible toys you can buy that have natural coconut, oyster shells and calcium in them that your bird can eat or just break apart. There are now many perches out there as well that are edible for your parrot. You can also hang birdie kebabs for your bird to play with and hang from made of his favorite foods.
A happy and healthy Congo African grey needs to be out of their cage every day for several hours, we’re talking about at least three or four hours a day. They’re smart and capable of just hanging out with you like other domestic pets. If you can’t provide time with your bird, it needs more stimulus and an outdoor aviary can do just the trick! The outdoors is always changing and the extra space is great for your bird if you can’t be around that day.
Don’t leave them unattended indoors however or you may find your electrical cords chewed in half or your furniture damaged. Your second step is to again spend time training them every day. Training stimulates their problem solving skills and abilities and keeps them stimulated. Not to mention it builds your relationship! In order to keep your parrot inside you can teach it things like flight training and recall training where it flies to you when called, or “drop it” where it drops anything you ask it to on cue (a great cue to teach as an emergency if your bird were to pick up something toxic like a piece of chocolate or a rusty nail laying around)
Congo African Grey Feather Plucking.
This sad behavior is often caused by medical issues. If your Congo African grey is or ever does exhibit this behavior take them to the avian veterinarian right away. Once they’re given a clean bill of health you can go through the steps to eliminate unwanted behaviors, namely provide an optimal environment and train them. Yep, training works for feather plucking too.
Every bird, even the wonderful Congo African grey, is susceptible to undesirable behaviors including biting, screaming, and feather plucking. Taking the time to give them great care and to train them will go a long way toward preventing and eliminating these behaviors should they pop up.
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