Although it is one of the most popular “exotic pets” in the world, the Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus is actually a beautiful and majestic wild avian wonder.
It occurs naturally in lowland moist forest, savannah woodland and cultivations in equatorial Africa, including northern Angola, Cameroon, the Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. It is also known as the Congo grey parrot or African grey parrot.
It is a fairly large parrot, with an overall grey appearance, a bare facial area around the whitish eye and a bright red tail and tail coverts. Its size, notably that of the bill, is individually variable independent of age, as is the intensity of the grey and the amount of red, which sometimes extends onto the belly.
Grey Parrots are highly social creatures, sometimes foraging in noisy flocks of up to 30 individuals and travelling long distances through the forest in search of food. They eat mainly fruits, seeds and nuts, preferring the fruit of the African Oil Palm. They will also occasionally eat insects and snails.
The Grey Parrot is monogamous, only mating with one companion at a time. They also display intricate behaviour such as bi-parental care (both parents look after their little chicks) and show altruistic behaviour such as grooming each other and regurgitating food to feed others.
These parrots are among the world’s most intelligent animals, with research showing that they can identify, request, refuse, categorise and quantify more than 80 different objects! They may live up to 60 years in captivity, but in the wild rarely make it past 25 years.
Unfortunately populations of the Grey Parrot are rapidly decreasing worldwide, and it is currently regarded as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Humans are, as always, the main threat to their survival. The extensive harvesting of wild birds for the pet trade, in addition to habitat loss and use as bush meat, has led to a rapid decline in numbers of Grey Parrots across their range. In order to address the threat from the cage bird trade the species was moved to Appendix I in 2016, thus banning international trade.
For your chance to see this magnificent parrot in the wild, join us on a birding trip to Uganda in 2020. Not only will you see the Grey Parrot, but you are guaranteed a superb birding and general wildlife experience. Get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on this amazing tour to Uganda or any other birding tour.