The African Grey Parrot is Endangered: Facts to Know

Did you know that the African grey parrot is endangered? African Greys, renowned for their remarkable intelligence and ability to mimic human speech, face an urgent crisis. 

Classified as endangered, wild populations rapidly disappear from their natural habitats in South Africa, Western Africa, and Northern Africa due to deforestation, illegal pet trade, and habitat destruction. This dire situation calls for immediate conservation actions to protect and preserve the future of one of the most charismatic, loud, and intelligent wild parrots. 

Learn more: Are African Grey Parrots Loud?

As stewards of the earth, we are responsible for rallying support and implementing effective strategies to halt their decline and ensure their survival for future generations.

wild african grey parrots are endangered

Overview of African Grey Parrot

Species Identification

Meet the African grey parrot, scientifically known as Psittacus erithacus. Known for being one of the smartest birds, they are composed of two primary subspecies: the Congo African grey from the democratic republic of the Congo and the smaller Timneh parrot from the western coast of Northern Africa.

Regarding size, these parrots typically range from 10 to 14 inches in length. Additionally their red tail feathers can help you identify them! As for their weight, they can vary from 300 to 550 grams.

Check out our complete guide on Timneh VS Congo!

Timneh African Grey Parrot is Endangered

Native Habitats of the African Grey Parrot

Wild African grey parrots naturally thrive in the rainforests of many African countries in the West, South, and Central Africa. Furthermore these birds will create nests high up in the tree canopy, providing protection and access to resources such as food and water.

As you may be aware, African grey parrots are considered intelligent birdsParrots are well-known for their ability to mimic human speech and exhibit impressive cognitive skills. Their exceptional memory and problem-solving abilities make them one of the most sought-after avian pets worldwide.

In terms of behavior, African grey parrots are social and curious creatures. They often live in large groups or flocks in the wild. When in captivity, they enjoy interaction with their human caretakers. However, it is essential to remember that they are complex animals. You must meet their MANY needs to maintain a happy and healthy pet.

But remember, these amazing parrots are endangered and face significant threats to their survival, mainly due to habitat loss and the pet trade industry. Plus it’s essential to raise awareness of their plight and consider ways to support their conservation efforts. We advise you never to purchase an African grey parrot from an international pet trade and instead look for one to adopt. 

Why You Should NOT Buy an African Grey Parrot

Purchasing an African Grey parrot contributes to the demand that fuels the illegal wildlife trade, which is a significant factor in their endangered status and the decline of wild populations. Additionally, these highly intelligent and social birds require complex care, a long-term commitment, and an enriched environment that many owners may not be prepared to provide, leading to potential welfare issues.

Conservation Status: the African grey parrot is endangered

Current Population Trends

Did you know? The population of the African grey parrot has been declining over the years. The main factors contributing to these population declines include:

  • Habitat loss due to deforestation. Modern society is encroaching on the forest edges.
  • Illegal trafficking, trade, and poaching

  • Turkish airlines have been illicitly transporting wild-caught African greys originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and Mali to various destinations across the Middle East, as well as western and southern Asia.

  • Diseases such as (PBFD) Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease 

It’s been estimated that the African grey parrot population has experienced a significant decline of approximately 90% in some regions, such as Ghana. The drastic deterioration demonstrates the immediacy of the situation and the need for conservation efforts.

IUCN Red List Assessment – the African grey parrot is endangered

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) regularly assesses the conservation status of various species. The most recent assessment shows that the African grey parrot is Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Here’s a brief overview of the IUCN Red List categories for your better understanding:



As you can see, the African grey parrot is just two steps away from extinction in the wild. We must take the necessary measures to protect and conserve this intelligent and fascinating species before it’s too late.

Habitat and Distribution

African Grey Parrot is Endangered

Geographical Range of the African Grey Parrot

African grey parrots, known as Psittacus erithacus, are primarily found in Central Africa and parts of West and Central Africa. The wild parrots would live across countries such as Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, their population has been dwindling due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

Preferred Ecosystems

These intelligent birds prefer a variety of forest habitats. You can often find them in dense, mature forests like rainforests and gallery forests. They can also occasionally be spotted in savannahs and cultivated lands. However, their primary preference is dense forests, which offer suitable nesting sites and abundant food sources.

Unfortunately, their habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate due to logging, agricultural expansion, and other human activities. As a result, their natural habitat is becoming fragmented, making it difficult for these birds to flourish and breed successfully. Habitat loss in the forest is one of the primary reasons the African grey parrot is now considered endangered.

Raising awareness and supporting conservation efforts can help protect the remaining African grey parrot populations and preserve their magnificent habitats for future generations.

Threats to the Survival of the African Grey Parrot

Illegal Pet Trade Regarding Parrots

The illegal pet trade for birds has become a significant threat to the survival of the African grey parrot. Additionally you might be surprised to learn that thousands of these parrots are captured and sold into the pet market as wild-caught birds yearly. 

African grey parrots are popular pets due to their intelligence and language abilities. Sadly, their popularity has driven their exploitation in the wildlife trade.

Here are some impacts of the illegal exotic pet trade on African grey parrot populations:

  • Decreased numbers: The high demand for African grey parrots as pets leads to diminishing populations in the wild.

  • Stress and death: The stressful conditions during capture and transportation result in a high mortality rate among the captured birds.

  • Inbreeding: The limited gene pool in pet populations can cause genetic issues and reduce the species’ overall health.

Environmental Challenges

Apart from the pet trade, African grey parrots face various environmental challenges. Deforestation and habitat loss are two key contributors that severely undermine the parrots’ natural environment, making it harder for them to find suitable nesting, feeding, and breeding sites.

Here’s a brief overview of how habitat loss affects African grey parrots:

  • Reduced food sources: Deforestation decreases the availability of fruits, seeds, and nuts, essential elements of the parrots’ diet.

  • Lack of nesting sites: The loss of old trees with cavities deprives the parrots of suitable nesting areas.

  • Predation vulnerability: Without the forest cover, African grey parrots become more vulnerable to predators like birds of prey.

To better illustrate the extent of deforestation faced by the African grey parrot, consider the following statistics:

RegionDeforestation Rate
West Africa90%
Central Africa   60%
East Africa    50%

As you can see, habitat loss and deforestation pose significant risks to the survival of the African grey parrot, especially in West Africa. The collective impact of the illegal wildlife trade and environmental challenges has led to the African grey parrot being listed as an endangered species, emphasizing the urgency for conservation efforts.

Reproduction and Life Cycle of the African Grey

When it comes to the reproduction and life cycle of the African grey parrot, it’s a fascinating journey. This section will discuss their breeding patterns, offspring care, and other essential aspects to understand these captivating creatures better.

Breeding Patterns

African grey parrots are monogamous, forming long-lasting bonds with their partners. The breeding season usually occurs between November and April, depending on the geographical location and availability of nesting sites. During this time, the parrots will search for suitable places to build their nest and lay their eggs.

As part of the breeding process, these couples need a nest. African grey parrots typically choose nesting sites within tree cavities or sometimes even in rocky crevices. Providing the parrots with a safe and secure environment is essential, as it will increase the likelihood of a successful breeding season.

Offspring Care

Once the nest is ready, the female African grey parrot will lay 3-5 eggs. These bird eggs are incubated by both the male and female for about 28 to 30 days. The parents take turns ensuring their offspring stay warm and safe.

After hatching, the baby parrots, known as “chicks,” will receive constant care from their parents. The parents will feed them a regurgitated diet until they can eat solid foods. This phase is crucial to their development, and the following can help you keep track of their progress:

  • 0 – 2 weeks: The chicks are mostly naked, with just a few tufts of downy feathers.
  • 2 – 3 weeks: Developing pinfeathers (undeveloped feathers) emerge.
  • 3 – 6 weeks: The pinfeathers transform into adult feathers, and the chicks will have their eyes fully open.

The mortality rate among African grey chicks during this period is high. High mortality is due to various factors such as diseases, predators, and harsh environmental conditions. It’s vital to ensure they receive adequate care and protection to increase the parrots chances of survival.

Understanding African grey parrots’ reproduction and life cycle helps us appreciate their biology’s unique aspects. Remember, as endangered species, it’s crucial to be aware of and support conservation efforts to preserve these remarkable birds for generations.

Protection and Legal Framework – African Grey Parrot is Endangered

As a responsible global citizen, being informed about the protection and legal framework surrounding African grey parrots is essential. Moreover this knowledge will help you better understand the factors contributing to their endangerment and the measures taken to address them.

The following subsections will briefly discuss the wildlife trade regulations and conservation initiatives that play a significant role in their protection.

Wildlife Trade Regulations (CITES-listed Parrots)

The international trade of African grey parrots is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES aims to ensure the trade does not threaten the species’ survival.

African grey parrots are listed in CITES Appendix I, which includes species threatened with extinction. Trade of these species is strictly controlled, allowing it only in exceptional circumstances. To note as someone concerned about these parrots, you should be aware that:

  • Export and import permits are necessary for trading African grey parrots.
  • Law enforcement agencies work to prevent the illegal trade of these parrots.
  • Knowing your country’s CITES obligations will help you contribute to species conservation.

What is the Wild Bird Conservation Act?

The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) of 1992 is a United States federal law enacted to protect exotic bird species from unsustainable trade practices. The conservation act was passed in response to growing concerns over the decline of many wild bird populations worldwide, primarily due to the international trade in live birds. Here are some critical aspects of the WBCA:

1. Regulation of Imports – The WBCA restricts the importation of certain exotic bird species into the U.S., especially those that are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and are not bred in captivity. This is to ensure that wild populations of these birds are not harmed by international trade.

2. Permits for Importation – The Act requires that importers obtain permits for species that can be imported. These permits are issued only if the importation meets specific criteria that ensure the protection of the species in the wild. This includes demonstrating that the imported birds were legally acquired and that the trade does not negatively impact the species’ survival.

3. Encouragement of Captive Breeding – The WBCA promotes the captive breeding of exotic birds to satisfy the demand for these birds as pets, thereby reducing the pressure on wild populations. Furthermore the Act allows for the importation of captive-bred birds under specific conditions to encourage responsible breeding practices.

4. Conservation Programs – The Act also supports international conservation efforts to protect wild bird species. It recognizes the importance of preserving natural bird friendly habitats and ecosystems for the survival of these species.

5. Penalties and Enforcement – The WBCA provides penalties against individuals or entities violating its provisions, including fines and imprisonment. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is primarily responsible for enforcing the Act.

The Wild Bird Conservation Act represents a significant effort by the United States to contribute to the global conservation of bird species, recognizing the importance of these species to biodiversity and the health of ecosystems worldwide.

Conservation Initiatives

Conservation initiatives play a vital role in African grey parrot safeguarding , offering hope for this endangered species. By being informed about animal welfare and supporting these efforts, you can lend a hand in promoting conservation. Here are some essential conservation initiatives:

  1. World Parrot Trust (WPT): A non-profit organization committed to protecting and conserving parrots worldwide, including African grey parrots. They collaborate with governments, communities, and other organizations to develop and implement effective conservation programs.
  2. Local conservation programs: Various countries in Africa, where these parrots are native, have established protected areas and sanctuaries. By supporting such local efforts, you’re directly aiding in preserving these species and their habitats.
  3. Laws and regulations: Stronger law enforcement, especially in African grey parrots’ range countries (African nations), is being implemented to combat illegal trade and habitat destruction. Familiarize yourself with these laws, and report any suspicious activity to appropriate authorities.

In summary, being aware of wildlife trade regulations and conservation initiatives related to African grey parrots will deepen your understanding of their endangerment and empower you to contribute to their protection efforts. Remember, every informed and responsible action counts!