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BREEDS & THEIR NEEDS
African Congo Grey
+ Timneh Grey
(Psittacus erithacus)
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Breeds Index

 

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WHERE DO THEY ORIGINATE FROM?

  • The A. Greys are found in Western and Central Africa from Guinea to N. Angola
  • The Congo Grey, also called the Cameroon or Ghana Grey, ranges from Cote d'Ivoire to N. Angola
  • The TIMNEH is found in S. Guinea and Western Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
  • The Birds live in mangrove Swamps and along rivers foraging for fruits, nuts, seeds and berries
    • Which is why in captivity you must try and replicate this varied diet.
    • They also raid cultivated crops.

DESCRIPTION of the CONGO AFRICAN GREY

  • Colour Grey of varying shades with a bright red Tail.
  • Often the hen is a lighter shade of Grey (paler slate grey)
  •  than  the cock bird (which is a darker iron grey)
  • the single bird in the picture on the left, is a hen. 
    • Paler body with darker grey to wing tips.
  • the pair of greys, on the right, show the difference in colour between a cock and hen.
  • they all have an oval of white, almost bare skin, surrounding the eyes (see picture)
  • Baby birds have "solid" dark eyes - showing no white. . . .           Click picture of Baby Grey ►
  • Once they start to mature after the first moult their eyes become lighter and have a pale edge
    round a brown iris.
     
  • Length : 12 - 14"
  • Weighs 450 - 500grams (approx 1lb)
  • Reach maturity approx 2yrs old
  • Lifespan : Can live to 50 years+
    • (this obviously MUST be taken into consideration when buying one
    • - it is a lifetime's commitment!
       
  • Solid Black beak
  • Both species have: Grey, strong feet with 4 toes - 2 pointing backward and 2 pointing forward
  • Strong claws which may need trimmed if they grow too long.
  • Broad head and short neck


DESCRIPTION of the TIMNEH GREY (Psittacus erithacus timneh)

  • Smaller and darker birds with Maroon tails
  • Their Black beaks have a pinkish cast to them
  • They measure approx 10"
  • They aren't quite as heavy and weigh in at approx. 300grams (approx 10oz)
  • They reach maturity around the age of 2years
  • They also can live to 50 years+ if looked after correctly.
  • Other than size and colouring there is very little difference between the 2 sub-species.
  • Some people consider the Timneh to be an inferior bird/Pet but this isn't so at all.
  • They do cost a lot less to buy however, so if you want and African Grey and can't afford a Congo which sells for approx £550 - £600 (2007) you could always go for a Timneh which is about 1/2 that.

                                                                       
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SIGNS of a HEALTHY GREY

  • Bright, clear, clean eyes
  • Clean Cere - no discharge (Cere = the area above the birds' beak that covers it's nares or nostrils)
  • Upright posture
  • Full-chested appearance
  • Actively moving around the cage/Aviary
  • Clean legs and Vent area (no soiling)
  • Smooth feathers (with no obvious stress marks or plucking)
  • Feathers appear "greasy-looking" or sleek, rather than dry & brittle.
  • Good Appetite
     
  • In warm weather
    • you may notice your Bird (any bird) sitting with its wings held away from it's body, rolling it's tongue and holding it's mouth open!
    • This is how a bird cools itself down.
    • Watch your bird carefully tho., on warm days becos they can overheat quickly and may suffer heatstroke which requires Vet attention. 
      • (More a problem abroad than in England esp. this summer - 2007)!
      • Just wonder if we will get any warm, never mind hot weather at all??!!
         

SIGNS OF ILLNESS

  • Fluffed-up appearance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping all the time with head under wing and often both feet on the perch
    • (healthy birds tend to sleep on one foot with the other foot tucked up under it).
       
  • Change in appearance or number of droppings
    • (this is quite relevant and you can tell a lot from the colour and consistency of a dropping)
    • If you take your bird to the Avian Vet you can take a dropping with you
      • - it can help with their diagnosis.
         
    • Be aware that the colour of the droppings can change with diet also - so may not be a sign of illness of disease - so change of droppings without other symptoms - think what you have fed your bird that may have produced this colour?
       
    • Be aware tho that the Urates (white part of the dropping) should always be white!
      • If they are Yellow it may indicate Liver problems - Toxicity!
         
    • Weight loss
    • Listlessness
    • Drooping Wings
    • Lameness (can also indicate internal problems  i.e. tumour - so never disregard)!
    • Partially eaten food stuck to the birds' face
    • Food regurgitated onto the Cage Floor (can be innocent or not).
    • Laboured breathing with or without tail bobbing (which indicates chronic Lung problems).
    • runny eyes or nose
    • If a normally chatty bird stops talking or singing
       
  • IF YOUR BIRD SHOWS ANY OF THE ABOVE or a COMBINATION - WASTE NO TIME - GET YOUR BIRD TO AN AVIAN VET.
     
  • 1 DAY of ILLNESS IN A BIRD is equivalent to 7 days in a HUMAN
     
  • A BIRD only shows it is ill once it can hide it no longer - as in the wild if it showed any signs of illness, weakness  or infirmity then it would be predated on by other birds or animals and killed!

FEATHER WARNINGS

  • FLUFFING :
    • A healthy Grey will fluff before preening or for  short periods.
    • If your Grey seems to remain fluffed up for an extended period - be wary could be a sign of illness - consult your Avian Vet.
       
  • MUTUAL PREENING :
    • 2 Birds will preen each other affectionately but if you notice excessive feather loss, make sure one bird is not picking on the other and pulling out healthy feathers.
       
  • FEATHER PLUCKING:
    • a healthy bird will preen often to keep its feathers in top shape.
    • However, a bird under stress may start to preen excessively and severe feather loss can occur.
    • A bit similar to a human who bites their nails - once they start it is diff. to stop.
    • Plucked feathers sometimes grow back red
      • (altho. red feathers might be a sign of nutritional deficiency)!
SEXING
  •  The Birds' are dimorphic (i.e. look the same or very similar).
  •   So their sex can only be reliably established by DNA Testing (feathers or blood) 
  •   Or Surgical Sexing (by an Avian Vet).
  •   When you see a cock and hen side by side - the cock is usually a darker bolder colour
  •   The Hen is often slightly smaller and paler in colour.
  •   Mature female has a smaller head and bill.
  •   It's often said that the male A.Grey prefers women and the Hen prefers men.
    • As with every "theory" there are many exceptions to the rule!

GENERAL INFO

  • A. Greys are noted for their ability to mimic both speech, whistles and other sounds.
    • So perfectly that sometimes you think they are what they are mimicking if you can just hear
      them and not see them!
       
  • As a pet they need lots of love and attention and time spent on them and with them.
  • Not a bird to be left on it's own all day - so if you work, this is not the bird for you!
     
  • They have the intelligence of a Dolphin, chimp or even a 3yr old child  and also have reasoning abilities
    • Some people say they act via instinct
    • but their ability to associate situations with phrases they come out with is uncanny!
       
  • NOT for the beginner or as a "First Pet Bird" - they are very demanding and can be noisy.
  • If they do get bored or upset they will pluck their feathers and once they start this it is very
    difficult to stop them and get the feathers to regrow esp. if they damage the feather shaft at
    it's growth point.

                                                                      
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BIRDIE TRAITS (Understanding Your African Grey's Behaviour)

  • ATTENTION-GETTING BEHAVIOUR
    • If you hear subtle little "Fluffs" coming from under the cage cover first thing in the morning
      - it's just your Pet reminding you it's there and wants attention.
    • Other attention-seeking behaviour inc. shaking toys to make a noise
    • Sneezing
    • or soft vocalizations
       
  • BAT BIRD
    • This an affectionate term used to describe the Grey that enjoys hanging upside down from their cage/Aviary/curtains/light-fittings or anything else they can hang onto.
    • It's perfectly normal and helps stretch and exercise.
    • Some greys are more prone to this than others.
       
  • BEAK GRINDING
    • This is a sign of Contentment and is often heard as your bird is resting or preparing to settle
      down for the night.
       
  • BEAK WIPING
    • Usually after they have eaten, they will wipe their beaks on a perch etc., as a human would wipe their mouths on a napkin.
       
  • CATNAPS
    • They will often take little Catnaps thru the day - this is normal.
    • As long as they seem bright and cheerful afterwards and show no other signs of feeling off colour such as loss of appetite or having a "Fluffed-up" appearance, then all is well.
       
  • GROWLING
    • If your Bird Growls (and it is a very distinctive noise) then it is unhappy, stressed or frightened and is trying to scare something or someone away from her personal space.
    • You hear this a lot at Sales when "Wild-caught" or Aviary-bred birds are submitted for Sale,
      esp. those in "All-wire" cages, where they feel vulnerable to all the people crowding round or getting too close to them.
    • They are trying to warn away whatever is worrying them.
    • If a bird Growls then it is being STRESSED or threatened!
    • If it is your bird at home then you must work out what is upsetting your Pet.
    • It may be something as simple as something that wasn't there before i.e. a plant or vase etc.
    • Remember they are very suspicious birds and do not accept new things or change easily,
    • Colours - esp. bright ones (red!) can also effect your bird.
  • PAIR BONDING
    • Not only do mated pairs bond but birds of the same sex will often develop a very strong bond
    • This includes sitting very close to one another and mutual preening
    • They even mimic each other's action - such as scratching, yawning or stretching at the same time.
       
  • REGURGITATING FOOD
    • Sometimes your pet will regurgitate her food.
    • If you see your Pet narrowing her eye pupils, bobbing her neck and crop muscles
    • It will then regurgitate food - this is usually Normal.
    • They do this to their mates - usually the cock to the hen - at Breeding time
    • So she can feed her chicks
    • It is a mark of affection to "you" if she does it to you, as she is regarding you as a friend worthy of this gesture.
       
    • The only time to worry is if your bird looks sick or is showing other signs of illness and is also regurgitating her food.
    • If this is the case - Waste No Time - GET HER TO YOUR AVIAN VET.
      • It could be a serious blockage in the crop or digestive tract
      • - this is SERIOUS and could be life threatening!

         
  • RESTING ON ONE FOOT with it's HEAD UNDER IT'S WING
    • Perfectly NORMAL
       
    • In fact I'd be more worried if my bird was resting on 2 feet with it's head under it's wing!!
      • esp. if the feathers appear raised as if the bird is trying to keep warm.
    • This is a sign something is not right - consult Your Avian Vet.
       
  • SCREAMING
    • Content, happy Greys tend to be fairly quiet - unless copying something loud!
    • Birds that feel lonely, stressed, neglected or bored may become Screamers!
    • Once a bird becomes a Screamer it can be very difficult to break the habit.
    • You go in to pacify the Bird once it Screams is perceived by the Bird as a Reward
    • As it has gained the attention it craved - so it thinks that by Screaming it will get attention
      - so it continues doing so - even if the attention it gets is perhaps not the type of attention
      it would like!
    • Try and provide an interesting environment for your Bird with plenty of attention etc., and hopefully you will prevent this situation ever developing.
    • This is one reason - you should never get an A.Grey if you are out of the house most of the day.
    • They need constant interaction and attention or at least human presence.
       
  • VOCALIZATION
    • Many Parrots vocalize around sunrise and sunset.
    • The theory behind this is that it hearkens back to Flock behaviour in the Wild
    • When Parrots called out to each other at the start and the end of the day.
    • If your Pet calls out to you, if she can' see you, it may mean she's feeling lonely and would
      like company.
    • Perhaps if you just call back she may then be fine and continue what she was doing.
    • If she continues to call then it would probably be a good idea to go and check all is well.
       
  • SNEEZING
    • Birds Sneezes are classed as either non-productive or productive.
    • Non-productive sneezes clear the birds nares/nostrils and are nothing to worry about.
    • Some birds even stick the end of their claw into their nostrils to induce a sneeze if they feel they need to clear them.
    • Productive Sneezes, however produce a discharge and are a cause for concern.
    • If your bird sneezes frequently and there is a discharge
    • or you notice that the area around the nostrils appears wet or damp get in touch with your Avian Vet and get it checked out.
      • It could be a sign of respiratory problems
      • one of which is caused by a lack of Vit A.
      • Vit A is readily available in raw carrot, spinich etc.
      • Whatever it is it needs an Avian Vet to look at it as it does need Urgent attention!
         
  • TESTING THINGS WITH THEIR BEAKS
    • Birds in general use their beaks and mouths to explore their world in the way that we use our hands.
    • They tend to "test" things before accepting them
    • Even your hand or finger before "Stepping-up" sometimes - to see if it's a safe thing to do.
    • This testing process isn't meant as a bite and has no pressure or malice in it - it will not hurt you.
    • So, try not to snatch your hand/finger away if you bird does this as it will make her very wary.
       
  • YAWNING
    • You may notice your Grey yawn from time to time.
    • There are lots of theories as to why they do this.
    • It is commonly agreed, however, that it is perfectly normal and probably is just done in the
      same way that we yawn.
    • It is only to be concerned about if it is done in conjunction with other symptoms of illness.

TOYS for your PET GREY

  • Anything that will keep them occupied or stimulated
  • Even Aviary Birds that aren't in a Breeding situation, will benefit from Toys
     
  • Home made toys from safe wood and rope are as good and as cheap as you will get.
    • i.e. many pieces of wood (discards from a joiners shop - not treated wood tho) strung together
      on a knotted leather thong or safe rope.
  • Brightly coloured, bought Parrot toys
  • Go to OXFAM or similar Charity shops and anything designed for a baby to teeth on would make
    a good toy for your bird.
  • Bear in mind it will take them a while to accept any new toys but also that you should rotate the toys
    i.e. take one out and put another in so that they do not get bored with them
  • Check anything you give to your bird first - it must be safe to chew and not shatter or have bits that will break off and be swallowed.

HANDLING YOUR GREY

  • They must also be taught manners and by this I mean:
    • If you let them out they must allow you to catch them so it is very important to teach them to
       "Step up" onto your hand and allow themselves to be put back into their cage.
    • It is often easier to put them in "Backwards" so they stay facing you as you allow them to step onto their perch or the platform your cage door has made if you have clipped it into a flat position.
       
  • NEVER ATTEMPT  to catch your Pet Bird by chasing it around the room or throwing a towel or similar over it. 
    • It will always remember this and become difficult to train to catch as a result.
    • Just think how you would react if the situation was reversed¨!!
       
  • You MUST NEVER allow them to sit on your shoulder or head as this to any bird implies
    DOMINANCE i.e. theirs over you.
     
  • The higher a bird is compared to you the more dominant it considers itself!
    • This is why birds that are stacked in cages - one on top of the other get very stressed if they are the ones in the lower cages.

DUST ALLERGIES!

  • A. Greys are dusty birds - when they shake their feathers you will see a "Sea of dust"!
     
  • Their feather dander and dust from their powder down feathers can cause or aggravate allergies.
    • Symptoms can include sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes in sensitive people.
       
    • A sign of a healthy A. Grey is a coating of chalky residue on their upper mandible (beak)
    • If the beak is a shiny black - it's a sign of poor feather condition
    • or lack of preening
    • or the preening gland - at the base of the tail - is malfunctioning!
    • NOT a sign of health (as it would be in a dog that had a shiny, wet nose)
       
  • Using an IONISER in your room combined with an Air freshening fan can help, as the Negative Ions
    sent out by the Ioniser makes the dust "go to earth"
    • i.e. Dust particles will attach themselves to surfaces in your room, such as your TV woodwork etc., which obviously means you have to dust more often
    • but the "Positive" dust particles are not floating around in the atmosphere for you to
      breath in which is what they would be doing if they hadn't attached themselves to surf

                                                                                                                   ^Top

AVICULTURE
  • Fairly quiet bird, initially shy and very wary.
  • Unless they learn to mimic something or someone who is noisy - then you have trouble!
  • I knew one that mimicked a hen cockatiel - my poor ears!!
  • The growling of "Wild-caught" birds when they feel threatened in cages that have mesh on all sides
    and people, esp. in Sale Rooms get too near, is well known and shows their insecurity.
  • Whatever you do - DON'T SWEAR in front of your bird - it will pick this up faster than the words you want it
    to learn and they never seem to forget them and will use the obscenities at the most inopportune times!!
     
  • They are averse to change.
    • If you add a toy, perch or change their cage or Aviary they will be very suspicious of it and
      it can take days, if not weeks for them to accept new things.
    • They can get very stressed if you change something and they really do not like it.
    • You may not realise you have changed anything sometimes and it's only when the bird starts to fret or pluck you may realise that something is not either as it was or where it was.
    • Unlike the Galah who accept most new things and situations with apparent ease and almost indifference!!
       

                                                                   ^Top

ACCOMMODATION
  •  Ideally, provide a spacious flight with shelter - 12 x 6 x 6 ft is the minimum size Aviary.
     
  • If you have an A. Grey in the House :
    • the CAGE must be big enough for the bird to spread and flap it's wings without hitting the
      sides of the cage.
       
    • The perches, whether in the Aviary or a Cage must be of varying thickness to exercise the feet
      and prevent Bumblefoot etc.,
       See article on Bumblefoot.
    • The better cages have tops that open so you can put a perch across the opening. 
    • This way the bird can sit at a height it will feel happy with and can also climb in and out of it's cage at will
    • It also has the added bonus of allowing the bird to do it's droppings into it's cage rather than
      on your floor or furniture.
    • they are so clever, you can in fact, train them to use their cages to "poop" into.
    • If they have a drop-down front door into the cage - you can use a clip to allow it to be held
      as a Landing platform for the bird to come and go.
    • In the summer your Pet Bird will appreciate either being taken outside in it's cage or put into an outside Aviary.
      • If you do take your Pet out make very sure you have a lock or Parrot-proof clip on the
        cage door.
      • Also, do NOT put your Pet in a sunny position
      • make sure you keep them in the shade, which is what they would seek in the Wild.
      • You would never find a Bird sitting in the Sun by Choice - it's a human thing!!
      • Also, NEVER LEAVE THEM ON THEIR OWN outside, as there are predators everywhere.
        • From Domestic Cats, Hawks, other Birds of Prey and Mink etc.,
        • All could make a nasty met of your Pet Bird.
           
  • Aviaries should preferably be made from Aluminium or steel and mesh rather than using wood.
    • They will chew any wood they can get their beaks onto.
    • You must therefore always provide them with something to chew as it is necessary for their
      mental well-being and helps keep their beak trimmed.
       
  • Quite a destructive bird, thin mesh is a Big "No No"  with these birds, they can chew thru. almost anything - inc. your fingers if you stick them where they are not wanted!
    • Double, heavy-gauge, parrot-proof wiring a must.  Esp. if you have other birds in an adjoining Aviary.
       
  • Pet Birds must be provided with plenty of stimulation in the form of non-destructive toys.
  • You must always check that your choice of cage hasn't got exposed zinc.
     
    • Some of the cheap imported ones are just coated and the bird can chew the coating off and end up with zinc poisoning < (click on link to check symptoms of Zinc Poisoning).

  • The same principle applies to Aviary mesh - some of the cheaper imported mesh has "Blobs" of zinc still on the mesh and the greys can easily ingest this as they do test EVERYTHING with their BEAKS!
     
    • they must also have lots of human contact if they are kept in a household.
    • If you are going out try and leave a radio or T.V. on for them.
    • They love colourful things - so CARTOONS are good to have on the TV or a music channel.

       
    • An ideal companion/distraction  would be another non-threatening, non-aggressive Pet Bird
      in a separate cage in the same room.
    • Be a bit careful if you let the 2 birds out of their cages together in case the smaller bird is bullied.
    • Really you should never leave any bird out unsupervised - esp. if there is another Pet in the room i.e. a Dog or Cat!
       
    • Also, be aware of Poisonous plants and poisonous fumes off Teflon Pans etc., if you let them out.
      • Click on Links above ^ for further info:
DIET
  •  Good quality Parrot seed mix - not too many sunflower seeds.
  • Greys are fussy eaters and can take some time to accept anything new or change in their diets.
     
  • A lot of A. Greys, esp the Wild caught ones will just pick out the Sunflower seeds and try to exist solely on these - NOT A GOOD IDEA.
  • If this is the case, then their health will suffer big-time.
     
  • They need a healthy and varied diet you are doing them no favours to give into them and just let
    them eat Sunflower seeds.
  • They love monkey nuts - feed in moderation.
  • Ideally your Grey's diet should contain about equal parts of seed, grain and vegetables and fruits.
  • Dark green or dark orange vegetables and fruits are naturally rich in iron, vits and minerals.

                                                                  
    ^Top

VITAMINS & MINERALS (A. Greys are naturally deficient in Calcium and DO NEED supplementation)

  • They require about a dozen vitamins : A, D, E, K, B1, B2, Niacin, B6,B12,pantothenic Acid, Biotin,
    Folic Acid and Choline (.i.e. all the B. Vits)
     
    • They can only partially manufacture D3 and Niacin. 
      • D3 is necessary to help provide their much needed calcium and is best fed with a cod-liver oil supplement, as they work together to best effect.
         
  • Along with the vitamins listed above, Pet & Aviary Birds need trace amounts of some minerals to maintain good health.
    • Calcium, Phosphorus, Sodium (salts) Chlorine, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Sulphur, Iodine and Manganese.
      • These can be provided with a well balanced diet or supplemented with  Bird Care's "Daily essentials 3" 
        or similar + a Pro-biotic
        once a week.
         
  •  Fruit and vegetables:  They love Sweetcorn, peas and grated carrot mixed with egg food.

OTHER FOODS:

  • sugar snap pea pods, papaya, almonds, carrot, courgette (zucchini) , apple, banana, broccoli florets, pomegranates (they love these) fresh or dried peppers, green beans, spinach, Yams, Pear slices, Canteloupe melon slices, small chunks of cheddar cheese and small pieces of cooked Chicken.

WILD FOODS

  • Elderberry florets, Mountain Ash Berries, Cotoneaster berries, Eucalyptus /willow cuttings + leaves, grass (freshly pulled) dandelion leaves, chickweed and safe garden flowers such as busy lizzie, rose, marigold (tagetes)
    (check they aren't poisonous first - DAFFODIL, CROCUS AND TULIPS are POISONOUS!!)

POISONOUS/Harmful FOODstuffs (Click here for fuller list >  Poisonous plants)

  •  Alcohol, Rhubarb, Avocado (esp. skin and area around the fruit's stone)
  • Chocolate can Kill your Bird as it contains a chemical "Theobromine" which birds cannot digest as completely as people can, and therefore it becomes a Toxin that is difficult to get out of the birds system.
  • Avoid pips or seeds from Apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears and plums becos they can be harmful.
  • Also, don't give any salted, sweetened or fatty foods (i.e. chips or crisps etc.,)
     
  • Extruded, complete food pellets
    • (i.e. Pretty Bird and Kaytee) are very good as they contain everything the bird needs for
      good health and often smell fruity and appetising and come in lots of different shapes/sizes.
    • also, Nutriberries are good for them - they love to hold them and pull them to pieces.

       
  • A.Greys require a regular CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT as they are exceptionally prone to deficiency.
  • Once or twice a week, at least!
  • If they don't receive enough calcium from the diets, their bodies will remove calcium from their
    bones, which can leave Greys vulnerable to fractures and malformed bones.
     
  • It can also lead to a bird "Fitting" and sometimes leads to premature DEATH!!
  • VETS report that the majority of problems with African Greys brought into them are due to a lack of Calcium,
    • Caused by Poor diet (specifically those that have a high Sunflower DIET - BAD!! -
      • sunflower seeds are junk food to birds and have a high oil content but poor feed value - birds love them just as kids love sweets!!)
      • YOU as a responsible owner who is soley responsible for what you bird eats, MUST make sure that the bird is given MINIMUM Sunflower seeds and MAXIMUM Healthy foods.
         
    • Respiratory disease - ie. runny nose, eyes and sneezing this is caused by a lack of Vit A.
    • Vit A is what is called a "Fat soluble" vitamin i.e. it is stored in the body - so you can overdose the same as you can under-dose - with problems that would be almost as bad
    • So, you must give great consideration to a bird's diet to ensure it has a good variety of healthy foods.
    • B Vitamins are what are called "water soluble" and by that I mean they disperse into the body and are not stored, so they do need supplementing on a daily basis.
    • B. Vits are very important for the birds feathers, nails, beak and nervous system.
    • B12 is the vitamin that helps stimulate appetite.
    • Inositol (a B.vit) is nature's Valium and can help calm a bird (and human)!
       
  • This is a big point to consider at Breeding Time, when the Hen is having to lay down a lot of extra calcium in the formation of her Eggs!
  • Cheese and yogurt is high in calcium (for Pet Birds)
     
  • Just be aware that most birds are Lactose Intolerant i.e. their bodies cannot utilise/tolerate milk products
    • (in any quantity.)
       
  • Baby Birds in particular, that have been deficient in Calcium show signs of bone malformation
    and/or Rickets.
     
  • Also if their diet is deficient they can start plucking and/or their feathers will show "Stress lines"
    and be of poor, brittle quality.
  • A good reason to feed them a balanced diet and keep off Junk Food - both human as well as poor
    quality bird food.
  • You've heard the saying "Like water off a duck's back" - well, when the feathers (and therefore the bird) are in poor condition and the bird gets wet, then the water "wets" into the feathers rather than sliding off as they would off a Ducks' back!!
     
  • They do say that most A. Greys are Left handed altho. as with humans there are many variations on
    this theme - as you can see from the picture of the hen at the top of the page - She is left "handed".
     
  • WORMING  x2  per year - spring b4 Breeding Season and Autumn after Breeding Season finished
    to prepare them for winter.
  • They are not really Ground Feeders in an Aviary as a Galah or Cockatoo would be so aren't quite as prone to worms  but still do need to be wormed even if you use the "Wormer in Water"
     
  • REMEMBER FRESH WATER EVERY DAY.

    ^Top

BATHING

  • Greys are NOT noted for Bathing in a Dish provided.
  • They will "paddle" and dunk their heads in their water bowls and do enjoy being sprayed with a
    hand-sprayer and will hang onto the front of their cage/Aviaries with their wings spread to enjoy a "misting" of warm water.
  • Aviary Birds do enjoy a rain shower - so they must always have an area where they can get under the elements as well as draft-proof shelters.
  • Water on their feathers, however, is crucial to the health of their plumage and it also settles the feather dust - so it must be encouraged.
BREEDING
  • Usually begins in spring but can occur at other times of the year.
  • Breeding age starts around 4 - 5 years old. 
  • Hard wood nest box as ply wood won't last very long! 
  • A substantial Nest box size  : approx.15" square 30" high.
  • Clean shavings and pieces of wood for them to chew are adequate for them to create their own nest box base-bedding.
  • Chewing the wood helps to stimulate them into "Breeding mode".
     
  • It is quite important to make sure that perches are of a substantial size so that the birds foot sits over the top half only
    • - it's not a good idea to have thin branches that the bird's foot can wrap completely round
    • Make sure the perches are securely fastened to prevent movement during mating - which can lead to unsuccessful fertilisation.
    • They do say that 2 adjacent perches are a good idea - then the hen can perch on one and fasten her beak on the other to help stablilse herself and help to ensure successful mating.
  • They do say that ONE successful mating can fertilise a full clutch of 3 eggs.
     
  • CLUTCH      :  is normally3 -4 eggs.
  • EGGS LAID : every 3rd day
     
  • HATCHING : The 2nd and 3rd egg embryos are a little further on in their development, as they continue to develop inside the egg inside the hen until they are laid.
    • So the 2nd & 3rd  egg may hatch only 2 days after the first one instead of 3 days.
    • This means they are not too much bigger than each other in the nest.
    • As usually the bigger chicks can demand more food
       
  • The hen bird sits the eggs
  • The cockbird will feed her while she is sitting and often sit in with her.

Incubation      -  28 days
Chicks Fledge  - Around 10 -12weeks but still continue to be fed by the parents for weeks after. 
First moult      - Around 12 - 18 months old.

  • Although, some do take longer to wean, they will beg for food for ages after they really need it.  
  • So, it's really a case of playing things by ear to make sure the babies don't suffer, physically or mentally.  
  • They should never move to a new home until they are fully independent.

RINGING

  • Age:  Usually ring them about 21/2 -3 weeks old.
  • Ring Size :  V

HAND-REARING

  • Most A. Greys sit their eggs well but if this isn't the case then it's best if the eggs are removed and put in Incubators.
  • Most A. Greys will incubate and rear their chicks no problem.
  • Nest box cameras can help identify any problems before the either chick gets to stage where it is beyond help.
  • It must then be removed (carefully & safely) then hand-reared.
  • A lot of Breeders remove the chicks approx 2 - 3 weeks of age to Hand rear.
  • Usually just as the eyes are opening.
  • They let the parents do the major part of the early work, which also helps boost the immune system as well as fulfilling part of the parent birds' instincts to breed and feed.
     
  • Keeping a close eye on them is the key and if the parents start leaving the Nest box for extended periods, it's best to remove the chicks and hand-rear, as they can easily get chilled, esp. if the weather is cold and they don't have their parents to keep them warm.
  • If a chick becomes chilled, it's metabolism slows down and it's feed response suffers, so then it does not "beg" for food and therefore the parents are not stimulated to feed it.
  • It's a catch 22 situation - this is why it's best to remove the chick(s).
  • Make sure you warm the chick(s) through by putting it in a pre-heated Brooder.
  • This will help save it's life and also speed up it's metabolic rate to help kick-start it's "feed response" when you start to feed it.
    • A hand-reared baby would be ready at around 12 - 14 weeks old to go to a new home.
    • Once it is self-sufficient and not requiring any hand feeds.
    • It is NOT A GOOD IDEA to sell a baby A. Grey as a pet to a Novice owner when it is still shouting for a hand-feed.

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