African greys are often referred to as the “thinking man’s” bird. There’s a reason why they are often given scholarly names, such as Einstein or Freud; these birds are known for their intelligence and their ability to show empathy.
African greys typically favor toys that challenge them, such as puzzle toys, foraging toys and interactive toys, such as rattles. Go slow with introducing new toys, however, because African greys can be timid when new items are first introduced. Some might be of the belief that African greys are reserved. However, a well-socialized grey isn’t afraid to dance, is very vocal and famous for pranks, such as imitating their owner’s voice to tell the family dog it’s time for a walk.
These birds are not only one of the best talking parrots, they are also one of the best sound mimics. If your car alarm is still going off after you hit — and re-hit — the turn-off key, or your phone is ringing even though you verified that it’s on vibrate, check your parrot.
A young African grey can be discerned from an adult by looking at its iris. Young African greys appear to have full, black eyes. As it matures, the iris turns light in color. Young African greys also have a strange tendency, which seems to go away with age: they bury their beaks in the corner of their enclosure and kick the substrate (litter, paper, etc.) out behind them with their feet, like a dog digging a hole. Before you start thinking that your African grey has obsessive-compulsive tendencies, keep in mind that, in the wild, African grey chicks are left in the nest for a long period of time, and this “house cleaning instinct” makes their environment more sanitary.
There are two types of African greys: the timneh grey, which is a darker shade of gray, with maroon-colored tail feathers; and the Congo African grey, which is larger and lighter colored. The Congo African grey has a red-colored tail.