african grey parrot holding a piece of cardboard

African Grey Lifespan – How Long Do These Birds Really Live?

Knowing what the African grey parrot lifespan is, will keep you one step ahead of all there is to learn about these intelligent birds. It’s an important question that anyone considering adding an African grey to their home should keep in mind. It’s also one that many people don’t think about until it’s too late.

African Grey Parrot Lifespan 

How Long Do African Greys Really Live?

People often get an African grey parrot thinking they’ll live for around 23 years, like the wild-type Psittacus erithacus. Many veterinarians claim these pets can live up to 100 years or more if cared for correctly. However, most African grey parrots kept as pets live between 45-75 years. We are making a point to say the word “most” because there are always outliers who have birds that are over 75 years old.

But how long do African greys really live? And what kind of life can you expect if you adopt an African grey parrot into your family?

First things first, let’s talk about the African grey parrot in the wild. The wild-type African grey is estimated to live between 25 and 30 years, with most individuals reaching around 28.

In their natural state, African grey parrots face many obstacles: at times, limited food supplies, exposure to harsh conditions like predators, and weather shifts that could lead them into danger or death. These factors contribute to significantly shorter life spans than those we see among African grey birds that humans keep as a companion. 

The primary natural predators of African grey parrots are other birds, including hawks and certain tree-dwelling monkeys who steal their eggs. However, one major predator is the Cassin’s hawk-eagles Aquila africana AKA (Spizaetus africanus).

 

One famous African grey parrot who died young was Alex.

 

The book Alex & Me is one of my favorite books of all time. Alex, the African Grey Parrot who Irene Pepperberg spent years studying and training, died at 31 in Massachusetts. Alex lived with Dr. Pepperberg and interacted with her graduate students daily. If you have a grey or are thinking about getting one read Alex & Me first, it will enlighten you about African greys and what they require.

Having an African grey is a huge time commitment, it’s like having a Belgian malinois and a toddler all mixed into one creature. They are highly intelligent, plus need a lot of time, care, and attention to remain happy. Learning what to feed them is also important. For instance, Parrots can eat sweet potatoes but cannot eat avocados.

Another famous African grey parrot, Einstein, is now almost 40. The bird Einstein makes appearances on many talk shows, showing off his talking skills.

 

Where are African Grey Parrots from?

The grey parrot is endemic to equatorial Africa and may be found throughout Kenya, southern Uganda, northern Tanzania, the Ivory Coast, and northwestern Zaire. Although the Timneh and Congo are both from Africa there are some minor differences between the Timneh African Grey VS Congo. The Timneh is from Western Africa whereas the Congo is found in equatorial Africa.

What Impacts the African Grey Life Expectancy?

African grey parrots are a not-so-common pet, but if you are thinking about adopting one, you should be aware that they have a long life expectancy. The African grey life expectancy is anywhere from 35-100 years old. However, the majority live until the ages of 45-65. Things that impact the African grey life expectancy are diet, housing, enrichment, and exercise. Feeding your parrot a variety of foods that mimic things they will eat in the wild like mangoes is important.

What Positively influences the Lifespan of an African Grey Parrot?

If you are having trouble getting your African grey to like you, follow some of the steps in this detailed article.

Diet

African greys are hookbills and need a diet with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and pellets. Parrots who have plenty of vegetables usually have the best health. Nowadays, most exotic and avian veterinarians say that a balanced nutritional diet is best with 35% pellets, 20% fresh vegetables, 20% grains and beans, 10% fruit, and 15% seeds or nuts. A wide variety is how I feed my parrot Coco, she is 12 years old and just had a veterinary check-up, and she was in perfect health. If you are looking for some great pellets for parrots check out our guide.

I like to rotate the pellets of my bird Coco a few times a year. I have fed her  TOPS pellets daily with fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, and grains for the past three months. If you decide to add pellets into their diet, then make sure you do not pick a brand with peanuts as the main ingredient.

General Care

Helping to increase the lifespan of your African grey parrot, you must make sure their cage stays clean, and the water bowl is changed twice a day. If you leave the water bowl in the cage for more than one day, then you run the risk of infecting your parrot with a bacterial infection.

It’s essential to monitor and inspect your bird’s poop daily. We plain paper on the bottom of the cage, which gets picked up and changed twice a day. Spot cleaning the enclosure twice a day like this allows you to make sure there is never any bird poop build-up on the cage floor.

Using plain paper on the bottom of the cage allows your bird to throw down some food items and then eat them later. African greys are known to be ground foragers in the wild, so it’s perfectly normal for them to throw some larger vegetable pieces down and then eat them later. Don’t worry about them rotting,  because if you are changing the papers twice a day, you have nothing to worry about.

 

Enrichment

If you want to prolong the overall life expectancy of your grey parrot, then make sure you are providing the bird with plenty of toys and companionship. An African grey parrot will become depressed if they are alone all day. Often just being in the same room as your bird provides stimuli and companionship. Be sure to change their cage toys and provide foraging enrichment toys daily.

 

Exercise

Just like humans need exercise so do African grey parrots. You can help to increase their lifespan by providing plenty of activities. Allow your African grey to explore with out-of-cage time every day. If you want to help your parrot get more exercise, then you can have them step up, hold onto their feet, and swing your arm back and forth. The purpose of this exercise for parrots is to get them to flap their wings. Flapping their wings, exploring, and climbing provides them with a daily routine.

Lighting

African greys need UVA and UVB light for health. Most glass windows block the rays of the UVB light, although some UVA light does penetrate. Both UVA and UVB make up the full spectrum of light, so if you are not giving your parrot some natural sunlight time outdoors, then you should invest in a full spectrum bulb designed explicitly for parrots. Do not get the full spectrum bulbs for reptiles because they will have too much UV light. The best thing to do is to test it out in small increments. Use a UV light for 20 minutes every other day for the first week, and you can increase it as necessary. African greys do not need more than 4-6 hours of UV light per day, and many do great on much less Keep in mind that some birds may start breeding behaviors if given UV light.s.

 

Bird-Safe Cookware

The African grey parrot lifespan is directly related to the amount of time you spend finding out what kind of cookware is toxic for these birds. If you don’t want to kill your pet bird unexpectedly, please do not get one until you have researched what harmful kitchen appliances can kill them. Parrots cannot be around Teflon that is hot; when Teflon heats up, it can cause “Teflon toxicosis,” it can poison your bird by causing their lungs to hemorrhage and fill with fluid, leading to suffocation. Make sure you upgrade all of your cookware if you have a parrot.

 

Showers and Bath

Increase the African grey lifespan with frequent showers. The African grey parrot needs a shower a few times a week to stay healthy. We do it by using a handheld showerhead and spraying your parrot with warm water for about 3 minutes. You must make sure not to get a lot of water in their eyes or nose, or let them stay under the water for too long, as it could cause stress and health issues. I began showering Coco in the bathtub the first week I got her. I chose this method instead of a spray bottle with water because she did not like the spray bottle. When she saw it, she would puff up her feathers. Therefore, I just asked her “step up” and put her on the shower floor, and began to spray her down. I do this 1-3 times per week, never more and never less.

You can also buy or make a shower stand. Some birds feel more comfortable with a shower stand, but then there is more risk of them just flying away.

If your bird is covered in thick layers of dust that you never wash off, then run the risk of them plucking at the itchy feathers. Imagine how itchy you would feel if you never took a shower to wash away some of the dead skin cells.

African grey parrot in the shower

How long does an African grey parrot live in the wild?

 

In the wild, the African grey parrots have a lifespan of about 40 years. Their ability to survive in Africa is directly related to their ability to stay healthy without getting sick from diseases, predators, or the harsh conditions they have to endure there. Their average lifespan also depends on how long they live with or without their mate.

Several factors affect a wild African grey parrot’s lifespan. They are environmental, predators, poachers, humans eating them, genetic, and diet. Many African grey parrots are endangered due to habitat loss from deforestation. If there are no palm oil trees then the parrots have nowhere to forage.

 

 

What is the Timneh African Grey Lifespan?

African Grey Parrot Lifespan – Timneh!

The Timneh African grey lifespan is similar to the CONGO grey. They tend to have a more docile personality and weigh less than a CAG. Timneh African grey parrots have an average lifespan of 40-70, however, there will always be outliers.

How Long Do Parrots Live?

Parrot Life Expectancy Chart of A Few Common Types

There are 402 species of parrots that make up psittacines. They make up the order Psittaciformes, and most of the birds in the order live in tropical or subtropical areas of the world. Some species get transplanted to other places like the Monk parrots who live in Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, and they thrive year after year.

The chart below shows the average lifespan of most of these birds, but remember that there will always be outliers and some that will live 20-30 years past their average life expectancy.

Name of ParrotAverage Life Expectancy
African Grey CONGO45-95 years
African Grey Timneh40-70 years
Black Headed Parrot27-45 years
Blue and Yellow Macaw60 – 120 years
Blue Fronted Amazon40 – 65 years
Cockatoo (Umbrella)45 – 85 years
Goffin’s Cockatoo25 – 60 years
Hyacinth Macaw50 – 70 years
Jardine Parrot30 – 60 years
Lorikeet (Rainbow)10 – 30 years
Meyers Parrot25 – 45 years
Monk Parakeet20 – 40 years
Orange Winged Amazon30 – 80 years
Patagonian Conure 20 – 40 years
Senegal Parrot30 – 50 years
Red and Green Macaw60-100 years
Rosy Faced Lovebird15 – 34 years

 

 

African Grey Parrot Diet – What To Feed Them For Longevity

You need to carefully curate your African grey parrots diet in captivity for optimal health. Feed your parrot a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, organic pellets, seeds, nuts in the shell, and organic grains.

 

5 Factors That Can Greatly Impact the African Grey Parrot Lifespan

 

  1. Nutrition: An African grey parrot needs a wide variety of foods, not just seeds, and nuts. My parrot Coco only gets less than a teaspoon of seeds twice a day. The rest of her diet is a variety of walnuts in the shell, almonds in the shell, quinoa, barley, brown rice, organic pellets, peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, peas, carrots, and so much more.
  2. Adequate Sunlight:  African grey parrots should get natural sunlight and not just artificial lighting. Make sure your bird gets at least 2-4 hours of exposure each day.
  3. Exercise: African grey parrots need to fly, have mental stimulation, and play daily for about two hours or more. If you don’t provide them with enough enrichment items to exercise, you will need to take your bird out on a leash at least once a day.
  4. Socializing: African grey parrots are highly social creatures, and they need attention from their human flock members daily. The more you interact with them, the longer they will live. If you don’t have enough time or just can’t handle a parrot’s personality, re-home your bird to someone who can provide the attention that they need.
  5. Health: African grey parrots are prone to obesity and need help from their human flock members to eat correctly. When you first get your parrot, take them to the avian vet for a check-up and make sure they maintain a healthy weight throughout their life.

 

 

African Grey Parrot Life Expectancy 

 

We surveyed 1,185 African Grey Parents/Caretakes and asked them “How old is your bird?”. Here are the results. 

Out of the surveyed African grey owners, 1.6% said they had a Timneh African grey, and the rest have a Congo African grey parrot.

 

We took the survey as a fun random sampling of bird owners from all over the world. As you can see from the results, fewer birds were over 40 years old. The lower numbers of birds could just be a coincidence that the majority who randomly participated did not have a bird older than 40. The numbers drop significantly when we get into the above 40 age range. The African grey lifespan random sampling goes along with what the scientists say that most African greys who live as pets will have an average lifespan of 45-75 years.

 

33.8% said their parrot was between 20-30 years old.

27.41% said their African grey parrot was between 0-10 years old.

26.8% report an African grey parrot that is 10-20 years old.

7.8% said they have an African Grey 30-40 years old.

2.3% report that they have an African grey parrot 40-50 years old.

0.55% have a bird that is 60-70 years.

0.58% have a parrot that is 50-60 years old.

0.51% report that their grey bird is 60-70 years.

0.25% said their bird was between 70-90 years old.

 

Final Thoughts on The African Grey Lifespan

Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t know how to take care of their birds, which can lead to a shorter life span. Put the time in to care for your parrot every day, and you will notice a big difference in your parrot’s lifespan! If you’re an African Grey parent, make sure you provide your bird with the appropriate diet, exercise, mental stimulation, sunlight exposure, and socialization for optimal health.


Read More About cage liners for birds and what to put on an African Grey’s cage.