The Congo African grey is a medium sized parrot with a really big brain. This species catalogs hundreds of words and phrases and many owners insist they have “conversations” with their birds. I had been hesitant to believe some of their stories until I saw a video recorded by a friend that made me realize just how smart these birds are.
Many parrots can be heard practicing their vocabularies when they are alone. My friend, who runs a rescue, turned a video camera on a rescued African grey and left the room. This grey went on to recite a portion of a telephone conversation its former owner had with a cleaning company once, which included the specific cleaning services being requested, the home phone number, and the city of Albuquerque was SPELLED out. The conversation was so elaborately recalled, it sent chills up my spine.
We believe that science is just scratching the surface when it comes to an understanding of parrot intelligence. The Congo African grey certainly promotes this belief. However, if we honestly believe this to be true, then we must consider the notion that they also feel things more deeply that previously suspected. The African grey supports that possibility as well.
The Congo African grey may be entertaining with its huge vocabulary, but it is also one of the most difficult parrot species to maintain in captivity. They are highly intelligent in general, sensitive and I will venture to say creative, too, as their big brain manages to manufacture all varieties of dangers, stressors, and otherwise unsatisfactory people, places and things in their environment. It can make life difficult, and especially so if you are on that list of scary things.
The Congo African grey needs an owner who is up to meeting the challenges they may throw at them. Not least of which are biting out of fear and screaming from frustration. Adding insult to injury, an unhappy, afraid or bored Congo African grey will usually resort to feather plucking when the conditions in his environment remain unsatisfactory. But perhaps worst of all is reaching into your bird’s cage and seeing it shake with fear. It hurts to think your bird is that afraid in your home.
We understand these feeling because we’ve been there. Chet Womach rescued an unhandleable Congo African grey, Bean, whose fear issues were debilitating. Dave and Jamie Womach rescued an Congo African grey, Cressi, who was their first freeflight student and is now a part of Dave’s Parrot FX show. Both made huge strides with their birds.
We understand African greys and we love them for all their insecurities and neurosis. We can help you raise your bird to be a mentally healthy, confident and a cherished member of your family.
Learn more about how Chet helped Bean overcome his insecurity issues and learn about the three phases of parrot fear by clicking here.