We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Smart are African Grey Parrots?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

African Grey parrots have been popular pets for over 4,000 years — ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all kept pet African Greys, and England's King Henry VIII was known to have one. These birds are extremely sociable, loving, and intelligent animals. They are capable of learning hundreds of human words and sounds, which can be used in their proper contexts. Some researchers say that these parrots have intelligence equivalent to that of a six year old child.

One of the most famous African Grey parrots was a bird named Alex, who was owned by animal psychologist Irene Pepperberg. From 1977 until the bird's death in 2007, Dr. Pepperberg engaged Alex in intensive language training activities to measure his innate intelligence, first working at University of Arizona and then at Brandeis University. The parrot learned more than 100 words, and was capable of answering simple questions, i.e. "What color is this toy?" A nonprofit organization called the Alex Foundation helped to fund Dr. Pepperberg's work with Alex and two other African Greys, Arthur and Griffin.

A parrot called N'kisi is also famous among African Greys for his language skills. N'kisi's owner, Aimee Morgana, has taught him over 950 words, which he is able to use in complete sentences. He is also known for coming up with his own imaginative phrases, such as "pretty smell medicine" to describe his owner's aromatherapy oils.

Because Alex and N'kisi underwent extensive training with their owners, they are exceptional cases. However, many pet African Grey parrots are able to recite numerous words and phrases, and even imitate sounds like laughter or a ringing phone. Because the birds are so intelligent, they have a tendency to be neurotic at times, and may engage in self-destructive activities like feather-pulling. They tend to bond very strongly with one person, and may be apprehensive or aggressive around others.

People who are considering buying or adopting an African Grey should make sure that they will have ample time to spend with the bird, and that it will not be confined to a cage all day long. When the parrot is in the cage, the owner should make sure that there are an assortment of toys to keep the bird busy. African Grey parrots are extremely intelligent and can be a wonderful addition to any home, but people who are planning to bring one home should make sure that they will be able to give the bird the home that it deserves.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon23815 — On Jan 02, 2009

I had an African Grey that did speak, but also made the sounds of doors slamming shut, car tires on the driveway, my children screaming and crying PLUS all sorts of annoying things that ended up getting him a home in a monastery.

By anon19979 — On Oct 23, 2008

why my african grey parrot doesn't talk but when i ask him/her to give me a hand or kiss he does

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.