African Grey Parrot - The Most Intelligent Bird in the World?

Last update: April 3, 2023 in Nature Facts
African Grey Parrot - The Most Intelligent Bird in the World?
© Dean Drobot |

Did you know that there is a bird that can learn to talk just like humans do? The African Grey Parrot is considered to be the most intelligent bird in the world. In the wild, it has the ability to reproduce the calls of other species and in captivity, the grey parrot is known for mimicking the human speech.

But what’s really interesting is that these birds actually associate meaning to simple words, cry out loudly when hungry and ask for attention from their owners. It seems, according to latest studies made at a rescue center in Austria, that an African Grey Parrot has the intelligence of a four-year-old child. It understands the abstract concepts of shape, color, number; is capable of solving problems; and can work out the location of hidden food using logic and reasoning skills.

African grey parrots have proven and amazing cognitive abilities: not only can they distinguish between familiar and strange voices, they can also learn and use hundreds of words. Legend has it that a parrot called N’Kisi even mastered past, present and future tenses. Most owners teach their birds contact details (for example an email address or telephone number) in case the parrot gets lost.

And it is precisely their intelligence alongside their gentle and trusting nature that makes people love them as pets. The downside is that in the last 70 years, grey parrot populations have been almost decimated. Their survival as a species is under great threat because of high demand for wild-caught birds, and habitat destruction by human activities. The latest incident involved the death of 687 African grey parrots on a commercial flight from Johannesburg to Durban. Unsustainable trade has caused local extinction in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa could be next on the list.

These intelligent birds are shy, sensitive and can live up to 50-70 years in captivity. They easily develop feelings, emotions and need to be treated as truly beautiful and exceptional ambassadors of Africa’s tropical forests.