The most talkative resident of African Rift Valley is Raider, our 18 year-old African grey parrot. In the wild, birds like Raider can be found in the rainforests of the
Congo. They eat a variety of fruits and nuts. As they digest these items, they disperse the seeds, acting as a "natural farmer," assuring food will continue to be available.
In African Rift Valley, Raider can be seen during the pre-show of the Wings of Africa bird show. He shows off his climbing and problem solving skills, as well as his ability to mimic sounds and even words…telling us his name, blowing kisses, and expressing his excitement for the bird show with a loud “wow!”
Because African grey parrots have the intelligence of a five year-old child, they constantly need new toys, activities, and challenges to keep them busy and out of trouble. Recently Raider has become an artist, using his beak to manipulate a paintbrush to create abstract works of art. He is also learning to identify different colors. So far, red and orange seem to be his favorites and he’s working on green and blue.
While their ability to mimic has made them popular pets, keep in mind African grey parrots can live up to 70 years, so adopting one is quite a commitment. If you feel up to the challenge of owning an African grey, make sure your bird is captive bred in the United States and not being taken from the wild where their numbers are declining.
Next time, we’ll meet a pair of burrowing reptiles who are also kept as pets.