African greys are dignified, and do not generally like to be fussed over. Think of them like your grandfather. A scratch on the head, a hug, and the odd tummy-tickle and your grandfather is set. So it is with the grey, an animal of routine who dislikes being uprooted or surprised. Greys will, however, verbally expound at length on a number of subjects, particularly after supper, when a talkative air takes us all.
The grey loves its own voice, and with good reason – this is one of the best talkers in the animal kingdom, often developing massive vocabularies of words, phrases, and even household sounds. They are such good mimics that you may not realize you’re listening to a bird. In clinical settings, Congo African greys have even managed to learn to read a few words!
All that intelligence comes with a warning: You wouldn’t leave your grandfather alone with nothing to keep him company but some nice, shreddable cardboard. A grey can bore easily, and needs to socialize and play as a distraction from bad habits like gnawing their own feathers off – the 13 inch (33 cm) Congo variety being even more prone to this than the smaller, 10 inch (25 cm) Timneh African grey. If you can spare a lot of love for this bird, which has been recorded living up to 90 years, there may be no more rewarding companion out there.