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Dear Parrots magazine,

It’s not all about the female

In the May issue of Parrots on the Parrot Queries page, Muriel Barnes gave us an insight into why the African Greys in question, were failing to produce. I agree totally that the 1m (3ft) cubes they were being kept in were far too small, and agree with most of what was said. But, I would take issue with the display and pre-mating ritual described.

The hen birds would appear to have no problem with laying, so they’re happy. It is the cockbirds who are not happy. Hens do not get mated by cockbirds who are not in condition, and they will not get there if they are not happy. It is not all about the female.

When in condition, cock African Greys will head bob, and when the hen responds similarly, may wing-flag.* In time, the cock begins singing and dancing to her with lowered wings and a sleek attitude on the chosen perch. If the hen responds to this she will ask to be fed, and then mating may take place. If this doesn’t happen, they will go back to the beginning and start all over again. This can go on for days or weeks.

Eventually they come together. But the cock has to ask first. All that said, these cockbirds in question need seclusion, that is, boarded 360 degrees and preferably more space. Breeding African Greys is not for those who want exhibits to look at all the time, although if space is secure and large enough they can breed.

I have bred a good number of previously kept pet birds. Part of the problem is that people expect to be able to retain the pet element and still breed. For some pairs/species this is not possible.

*Wing-flagging is a specific way of signalling, which many parrot species do, and is a controlled raising of a wing or wings, followed by the outer primaries being lowered and raised quite slowly.

Eddy Lines - by email




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