If you have an African grey parrot, you know they make special pets.
They are known for their intelligence, warmth, kindness, and chatty nature.
And hear this, greys are also quite longlived.
It never comes as a surprise when I find a Congo grey almost as old as some of the junior members of its household. One of my oldest pals has had one since he was a child, and trust me, he is not a young soul.
So, how long do African greys live on average?
Does the lifespan of an African grey vary while in the wild and when in captivity?
Is there anything you can do to prolong your African grey’s life?
Well, lets find out!
These beauties can typically have a lifespan lasting 40 to 60 years. As such, it’s imperative to grasp the responsibility of owning an African grey.
Typically, African grey parrots can live up to 70 years in the wild, especially if they manage to avoid hazards and predators. However, their average lifespan tends to fall anywhere from 40 to 60 years.
In captivity (as pets), anywhere from 20 years is pretty average, though some will live up to 40 years if provided with proper nutrition, care, and environment.
Plese read on for more insight below.
How Long Do African Grey Parrots Live as Pets (In-Captivity)
The average lifespan of most African grey parrots when kept as pets is anywhere from 20 to 30 years, which is a lot less than wild types.
A typical African grey in the wild lives an average of between 40 and 60 and can go up to 80 years.
In captivity, factors that are not necessarily an issue in the wild are most likely responsible for the compromised lifespan of an African grey.
In my experience, improper diet is the number one cause of premature death, with greys having conspicuously special dietary needs such as supplemental calcium, the lack of which may cause seizures.
A diet low in fat is also essential since African greys are prone to obesity. As such, keep seeds and nuts below 10 percent of a greys diet.
Annual checkups by a qualified avian vet are also absolutely essential since parrots notoriously hide illnesses, and by the time they become symptomatic, they are already circling the drain.
Annual bloodwork is crucial to determine whether your gray is getting all essential nutritional need, including calcium: Ricky Klugman, experienced African grey owner.
The other cause of premature deaths is the environment at home. For instance, African grey parrots require natural lighting, which is not always available in indoor cages.
Moreover, while these birds do best in a temperature range anywhere from 75 to 80 degrees, most temperate climates only reach these figures only on warmer seasons.
As such, most times, you’ll need supplement lighting with overhead full-spectrum lighting and to insulate your greys cage if you live in colder regions to keep your birds comfy.
Although these tricks still don’t guarantee your birdie a long life, they are better when implemented than if not.
How Old is The Oldest African Grey Parrot
Most accounts on the oldest African grey parrots are neither here nor there. While there are claims Churchill had a CAG that lived to 104 years, there is little evidence to back this claim.
Perhaps the most compelling and best-documented account of the oldest African grey I’ve had to date is that of Tarbu, a Congo grey owned by Nina Morgan that lived to age 55.
According to UK news reports, the parrot was rescued in 1957 as a chick from an animal trader in Tanzania, where Nina worked as a flight engineer.
Tarbu, 55, an African grey parrot, squawked his final farewell to Nina Morgan, 89, as she made her way to bed: The Telegraph, 14th Sep 2012.
That said, I’m sure there are old African greys whose stories are not documented, probably because once a person has had a parrot for so many years, they stop going to forums.
Evidently, you will only find newer bird owners with young greys in forums and birding circle exchanging hacks they’ve picked up in their short stint keeping parrots.
How Can You Tell How Old an African Grey Is
With most parrots species, it is quite challenging to tell the age of your birdie if you haven’t had it since it was a chick.
For instance, once a cockatiel has developed its full adult plumage, there is absolutely no way to determine the age of a bird you haven’t raised.
A 2 years old bird may quite possibly look the same as a 12 years old bird.
That said, while there is the rumor that DNA testing can prove the age of a bird, including African parrots, it’s pretty likely overkill while all you are is curious.
So, what other alternatives do you have?
Well, let’s just say there are a few tricks, though the conclusions are often not too accurate.
First, African greys come to sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years of age, and this is around the time they start breeding.
From around 6 months, they mostly remain the same in terms of appearance, which pretty much remains the same entirely, but while eyes are dark-grey to black in juveniles, the iris takes up a yellow color around dark pupils in adult birds.
This implies your African grey eyes will change color anywhere between the ages of 1 and 5.
Under six months, they will have dark grey to black eyes, then at age one, the iris will turn to a lighter grey. As the bird gets to about 2 years, the iris will turn to a light straw yellow, and between ages 3 to 5, it will turn into a darker yellow.
Another clue to look out for in younger African greys is molting. Mostly, these parrots start dropping their soft, downy feathers at between 8 to 24 months of age.
The next way to access the age of your birdie is size and weight.
An average-sized African grey bird will measure between 12 and 14 inches from its beak to tail and weighs between 400 and 600 grams. So, if your parrot metes less than these measurements, it’s most likely younger than 5 years.
With all that said, I think it’s imperative to mention that after your African grey reaches 5 years of age, there is no accurate way to tell your bird’s age if you haven’t been keen.
That’s all for this post.