Species of African Greys (with ranges and identification)
African Greys are generally easy to breed as long as they are happy with their breeding set up. They are not shy, bond relatively easily and generally make good parents. Their chicks are easier to raise than say cockatoo, cockatiel or eclectus chicks.
In the U.S., there are enough domestically raised birds to easily satisfy the demand for pets, so support for a black market in illegally imported Grey Parrots is not strong.
Grey Parrots are amongst the most popular companion birds because of their talking / mimicking ability that is endearing to pet owners. The life expectancy for an African Grey is sixty to ninety years and they continue to produce for their lifetime.
As males and females look alike, it's best to have them DNA sexed to ensure that you set up true pairs. Some breeders state that they can visually sex grey parrots by the shape of their heads and size of the beak, but these are educated guesses at best. DNA sexing is inexpensive (around $20) - it really isn't worth taking wasting time by potentially setting up incompatible pairs.
Most breeders agree that an L-shaped nesting box set up in a quiet area of the breeding cage / aviary works best. Suspended California breeding cages - (minimum dimensions: two feet wide by three feet high by six feet deep) - are a good choice. Visual barriers between the cages are recommended - unless there is at least two feet of space between the cages. Any closer spacing without barriers results in territorial competition with constant sparring between the males. Securely fastened and stable perches are necessary for mating. These can be 3/4 of an inch to 3 inches in diameter. The variation in width provides for exercise for the birds' feet. Also install at least one cement-type perch to help keep their nails trimmed. Place this grooming perch in an area the parrots spend a good part of their time (maybe by the feeding station).
Grey Parrots normally mate several times a day for several weeks before the first egg is laid. A clutch may average 2 to 5 eggs. It's best not to bother the parents too much; maybe check the nesting box once a day when the parents are eating. You don't want to risk abandoned or broken eggs. The chicks should hatch 28 to 30 days later. Just before hatching, breeders note that the food consumption of the parent birds drastically increase as they physically prepare themselves for the demanding job of raising the chicks and are “stocking up” on food reserves that will be needed for feeding the chicks.
You may want to pull the chicks for hand feeding when they are about 15 to 21 days old. All chicks must be removed together, as their natural parents will not care for a single chick left in the nest. Also, they are very protective of their chicks, therefore, special precaution have to be taken when removing the chicks as the parents will be aggressive. The best way may be to use a bird net to scoop up the babies. Maybe use a magazine or books to separate the parents from the chicks. If the parents were outside the nest box (which is the best scenario) – close the nest box entrance hole off with a magazine or piece of wood, while scooping up the chicks. Weang gloves to protect the hands from the parents' attacks is not recommended, as the chicks require gentle handling and you need to be able to touch and feel them or risk dropping or accidentally hurting them in other ways.
- Photos of a Timneh Chick - from days old to several months of age
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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