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First time owner: Advice on purchasing a grey


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Hi. I need some advice on purchasing an African Grey.


Where I live greys go for anywhere between $3500-$7000 because of the small numbers available, and because my country no longer allows exotic birds to be imported.


I have found one that I think I might be able to purchase at a significantly lower price. It is currently listed at $2500.


The only issue is the bird is aviary raised so not tame, but in a way that is ok as then I can be more hands off with the bird, yet still enjoy interacting with it through the cage.


I have two questions though. The seller mentions one eye has obstructed sight. And they said it was like that when they purchased it from the previous owner. The eye looks normal, but the bird has problems seeing out of it normally. I am wondering if this would have a genetic basis or is it a sign of illness of some sort? I have heard the gene pool for greys is rather small here in Australia, and that inbreeding can be a serious problem, and I am wondering if this is a genetic defect related to inbreeding. Anyone have any suggestions to help me out?


Second question. The seller mentions all the red tail feathers have fallen out, which from the pictures on the advert I can see they have. What causes this? The bird has not plucked any of its other feathers, and seems in perfect feather otherwise. I have heard of weird diseases such as tail rot and other bacterial things that could be responsible but really have no idea. Anyone have any suggestions on what could be causing this to help me put my mind at rest.


You might say I should save up and purchase a healthy bird, but I simply cant afford to spend in excess of $3500 on a bird, due to being between jobs at this time and due to previous experience with a prior hobby where I routinely spend such sums of money and always ended up feeling I had been cheated/ over charged. When I look at prices people are paying for greys in the UK and US, I simply cant justify paying the large sums they demand here. That is why when this opportunity came along to purchase a Grey at a price I think is reasonable, although even then at the high end, I though I should consider it as the opportunity may never present itself again.


Edit: Link to the listing, as you can see bird looks very healthy otherwise but I just thought I would get expert opinions before I a make any commitment.



Edited by Zervoid
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Hopefully others here will give you better advice, but there seems to be a lots of "ifs" with this bird. Sounds like if you got him, he would be in a cage 24/7, that is not in the best interest of the bird. They really need freedom out of a cage. Such as a big aviary.

As for the tail feathers, only a vet can give you the answer you need. Parrots that are kept cages all the time, will pluck as those conditions will stress them.

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I agree with Talon, the grey has to be out of the cage. You mentioned a previous owner, perhaps he / she was tame at one time? If so, you have some hope of taming him again. If not, it might still work out, but he really does need out of cage time once removed from a large aviary type situation.


I'm not sure about the eye. Do you know the age of the bird? If you can't see it, it wouldn't be cataracts, that would show as a white film over the eye. I would not hesitate due to the vision issue alone.


Birds will sometimes "drop" their tail feathers when frightened, and that might be what happened. Or, another bird may have removed them for him. If he isn't plucking elsewhere, he probably didn't pull his own tail feathers out. Even during a molt, they shouldn't lose all their tail feathers at once.


I'm always for the underdog, so nothing you have mentioned would deter me, but I do have a question. Do you have any rescues / sanctuaries in your area that adopt? Here, they are always vet checked and have a clean bill of health before being adopted out, and normally you only pay vet fees for adoption. If you have this option, I would be more inclined to go that route.

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Thanks for the helpful replies. Yes I agree there do seem to be too many troubling variables. Maybe the bird was raised in an aviary and then kept in a cage by the second owner, who didn't realize the bird needed an outdoor aviary? Maybe what we see with the chewed tail feathers is stress from the small cage.


They said the age is 2 years, so I am guessing now that the bird has become hormonal it is too much of a handful and the owner has decided to sell. The owner said the bird was raised in an aviary by the previous owner, and it now seems to be living in a large macaw type cage, but not an aviary. So maybe the smaller space is what is causing the tail problems.


The eye looks normal. So it doesn't seem to be cataracts. That is why I thought it might be genetic. The owner also says the eye has never had any trauma( that they know of). So unless the eye suffered trauma at the previous owners place without the current owner knowing, then I would say the eye problem is genetic.


I was planning on keeping him in an outdoor aviary. I have no previous experience owning rescues but did own a bird growing up. We don't seem to have any shelters here that would offer discounts on vet bills, unless the animal is already in their care. Because greys are rarer than hens teeth here there would be no shelters with greys like you kind in the UK and US. I would have to take the bird to an avian vet and pay the fees myself.


Just interesting to hear others opinions about the birds health. I am always so wary of buying greys here due to the genetic problems, I have heard all sorts of stories about birds with missing toes etc.


It comes with proper certification, with a gender certificate( it is a male) so it does seem like a legitimate sale. The rescuer in me is saying take him, but the rational side is saying it is too much of a risk. I am still on the fence about purchasing though, so will guess I will keep watching the listing over the following days and see what happens. I really only posted because these birds are so hard to find here at this price and thought I would get external feedback. Thanks again for the help.

Edited by Zervoid
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Agreed with above comments. If you cannot tame this one and give it lots of time of out cage --- then definitely a large aviary is needed so the tyke at least has some room. But, that also sounds very lonesome. :(

I admit, with untamed birds, sometimes I believe they do best at a sanctuary/refuge where they can form bonds with other greys. Sounds like the current owner really wants to make a sale though, not surrender to a sanctuary.


I doubt anyone here will judge you whether you pass on this one or attempt to give it a home -- and who knows -- it may bond with you and tame up if you work really hard.

Edited by LNCAG
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Hi. I haven't seen the bird. If I was to purchase it I would have had to get it air freighted to me or make the two day drive to Sydney.


Considering handraised greys are going for $3000 in my local area from breeders I think it is more responsible of me to purchase from a breeder and reward them rather than perpetuate the cycle of rewarding irresponsible pet ownership by purchasing from owners who give their birds up once puberty hits and advertise online. Money should the last concern when getting one of these birds. I have decided not to purchase.

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My heart says rescue this baby, but you have to do right and know what you're up for and what you're not up for. I hope this grey finds a good home, and that you get the bird that's meant for you one day.


I feel ya. I wish this poor fellow could go to a sanctuary and be with other greys or be adopted by someone with the time and patience to tame him.

I fully respect OP making the best decision they can.

But still... this tyke needs so much.

I want ALL parrots to be wanted, loved, and given the best home possible whether indoors or outdoors.

This type of story... depressing. You see the ad and think "is there anything I can do from half-way round the world?" :( :( :(

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I would go walk about, talk to people, look at ad boards, you would be surprised.


Ive seen people that just got Greys because of the history and public mindset of having one of these great grey angels.


They quickly find out that it is a life commitment, and not just something as a play toy or to show the neighbor.



I think if you look around in the right places, you will find someone willing to just give you one.


But then you have to consider, are you a person willing to dedicate the rest of your life, no matter what they do?



They bite, they throw food, there generally not a good house pet unless you are dedicated to taking the time to dedicate to them.


There life span is greater then yours, so their behavior pattern will be LONG, you have to have the patience.


If you don't have the patience, I suggest you get a dog or cat.



Please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying you don't, but if you do, even in your situation, you can find one.



I have been to EVERY country there is, and if you look hard enough, you WILL find one, if thats what you want.


I wish you good luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all the great advice. I contacted the seller again and this grey is still available for sale. Which would mean it would be a huge cost saving should I purchase it. So I am now entertaining the idea of buying.Turns out hand raised greys are actually going for $4000-$4500 in my local area; which is way more than I can justify on one purchase at this time. I have read about people with very old cage bound greys they adopted whom they were able to tame and now treat as hand raised pets on other grey forums. So I could end up with a hand raised grey, with a bit of work taming this aviary bird, at half the cost.


I don't really see greys as pets, to me they are wild animals. But I know like everyone else I will probably end up treating it like a pet.To me they are more like owning a wild animal such as a lion. Because they don't have any domesticated traits and from what I have been reading only display their wild behavior with human variations due to human interactions.


If I was to own this grey I would need to do the following:


a) Give it at least some out of cage time, along with flight harness time outside, to keep it mentally and physically healthy. So I would have to end up taming it to be able to interact with me hands on.



b) I had asthma as a child, and got pneumonia in Africa and never felt the same in the lungs afterwards, and am prone to suffering pneumonia each winter as a result, and also suffer hay fever, so am sensitive to dust. Due to the dust these birds generate I would probably be keeping it outside on a balcony where the dust can disperse outdoors, while still allow the bird to see me and interact through the screen door permanently. In my humid subtropical climate this should be fine. Or giving it regular morning baths in a solution of aloe vera juice and water to keep the dust down. Although I expect giving it baths too frequently would only result in it producing more dust. I do worry about breathing in the microscopic pieces of keratin that make up the dust and bird feathers, as I have read that it can lodge in human lungs and cause irritation, and that people who own large bird aviaries have a slightly increased risk of developing lung cancer.


c) I find the bird smell overwhelming whenever I go into a pet store. I know people who own rats put a couple of drops of vanilla in their water to cut down the strong urine smell, so would probably do something similar to cut down the strong odor that comes with their waste. To get around this I would also commit to changing the paper in the bottom of the tray every morning, as that was a system I had worked out with my old bird, and it worked quite well at keeping the cage clean and smell and dust free.


d) Motivate me to provide a healthy diet. My main reason for thinking of getting one is the food preparation I would need to go through everyday would force me to also take on a much healthier diet. At the moment I can't seem to shake my bad eating habits, and complete disinterest in healthy foods. And I am starting to worry about the type of affects my poor diet choices are having on my overall health. I have read some people buy parrots to improve their diet so thought it might work for me.


e) Interaction on daily basis. To be honest I would be getting the grey for company. As my eating problems are emotional related and I know are a symptom of loneliness. I thought a grey, despite their few downsides, would provide me with a source of company, at least in as much as livening the place up with his noise. And I think their loyalty to the person who cares for them would really help me gain much needed emotional empathy from another living being, even if it is from a bird. And it would force me to stop internalizing my thoughts and focus on something outside of myself, which I think would be a good thing for my future life development.


I have been unemployed for a few years now, money is tight. That is why I thought this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a pet that will live for a long time and require little in the way of space, food costs and medical care compared to a cat or dog. And as the owner is so generously also including the current cage it comes with, I also would be saving on the cost of buying a cage set up.


I'm actually really ethically conflicted about getting another pet. As I promised myself over 10 years ago when my last pet died that I would never own an animal again. As I kind of felt it was cruel, as the animal is just existing in captivity and never really seems to know what is going on. But here I am all these years later contemplating getting an animal that is basically a wild animal and force it to live in a cage.


Maybe I have been watching too much wingsNpaws on YouTube and am getting an idealistic perspective of what grey ownership is going to be like. Who knows. But I definitely find their methods to be very helpful in solving any problems that should arise, from screaming to biting, and they do make it look easy, and I admit I would not even be contemplating buying this animal if I had not seen their videos.


Just thinking out loud at the moment. Anyway I don't think the owner wants to be kept waiting much longer so I am going to try and make a decision by the end of this week.

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Well nice well thought out post. I have two greys a TAG (9) and a CAG (7) which I have been owned by since their weaning. Both are quite tame and free flighted and have been since their wings re-feathered from their weaning. They go in and out of their cages as they please when I open their cages. They both talk although the TAG, the boss, let's the CAG do most of the talking. They have perches throughout my home and go where they want. They are not chewers and very tame. They come to me when I ask if they want to but I can step them up easily.l I have adopted an older Lilac Amazon who does not talk and prefers her cage although I open it when I let the greys out. We'll see what happens. Patience is the secret to being owned by a grey. Let a grey set the pace believe me, you will get much farther if you let your grey be "boss" or thinks it is. Enjoy.

Edited by luvparrots
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Thanks for kind replies. Hoped I hadn't gone overboard. I'll probably end up getting over the dust and just end up keeping the bird inside. But your right it is a big commitment. I will try and update if I end up deciding to go with the purchase.


Found this feel good story about veterans returning back from war and how they are using rescued parrots to give them company.



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One of my rescues came to me because his previous owner of 9 years had asthma, and developed COPD. She kept everything very clean and misted Kya often, but the dust still aggravated her breathing to the point that she had to rehome him, and I lucked out. She did NOT use an air purifier, and I know that is supposed to help if you purchase a good one. I run a humidifier between their two cages and also mist them regularly to keep dust down. But, if your breathing is compromised, I would really give it some serious thought. They really are social birds, and I cannot imaging keeping one outside. My two are happiest right in the middle of all the chaos of our household. I would just hate to see you get him and realize that it was affecting your breathing and then have to rehome him. It would be very difficult to do with a bird that was not really tame, and it would be hard on you to make the decision, and more change for the grey. I can tell you from having two that the dust is a huge issue, but between my husband and I, we are able to keep it under control.


They are amazing, and it is great to see someone weighing out the commitment and doing their homework. They can be on a schedule, it just may take them some time to get used to it. If this one has never had much human interaction, getting him on an "out of cage" schedule will be easier. We have other pets, and our birds know that the second we crate the little dogs, their cage doors will be opened. We try to do everything very close to the same time every day - we both work outside the home and on weekdays, the schedule is pretty strict. Weekends are more flexible, and they know when the weekend hits.


Feeding them a healthy diet truly does help with your diet! A couple of weeks ago, I was chopping up a bunch of stuff for them and decided to go back on Weight Watchers, thinking how easy it would be to prepare my foods for the next day while preparing theirs. Mine will not eat any chop that has been frozen, it has to be fresh for them every day or they won't touch it.

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Speaking from the viewpoint that trust can be won over with patience I am happy that you are considering giving this bird a chance to share your life. If you need and air purifier keep it on the opposite side of the cage to where you will spend time to pull the dust away from you.

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There are a number of air purifier on the market, Some good and some not so good.

The good ones will cost you the long dollar and the not so good will not be a bargain.

What ever you buy make sure you do your research.

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The ad now says it was 'sold'. The seller never got back to me to ask if I still wanted it before selling despite my saying I needed a bit of time to come up with the funds. Anyway the whole deal was iffy. I mean I wouldn't spend $2500 on anything else that wasn't in optimum condition so why would I spend so much on a bird that 1) has an eye problem that may be genetic/age or parasite related 2) has a chewed tail which is indicative of a health problem or psychological problem 3) raised in an aviary, so probably has a full parasite load and will need tapeworm and other worming treatments which will all cost an arm and a leg. Everyone else is selling theirs for over 4 grand. All I needed was someone to buy my stupid Aibo and I would have had this Grey by now. This bird was 2 years old, that is naturally when Greys fledge from their parents, so this would have been the PERFECT opportunity for me to get a grey that could bond and be a LIFE companion. The current owner wouldn't realize the reason the Grey is uncontrollable and not responsive to them, which would be why they are selling, is because it was wanting to leave it's 'parent' to find a mate. Thats why I get angry when these 'breeders' sell handrasied greys when they are young and placid, without informing owners they are going to go through this fledgling stage, and will eventually out of frustration resign themselves to staying with their 'parent' when in reality they should not be being sold until they are 2 years of age. This was my one shot. I'll never be able to justify spending the 4-7 grand people are asking for these birds here, because who can justify owning a pet that costs more than their car! So over the whole thing.


I e-mailed a local breeder asking about the prices of their birds. Any you know the reply I got back? They replied 'We don't accept any offer that doesn't start with a 4'. And they said the vet check is $500 and that the last lady they shipped one to spend 5 grand! I am so over the arrogance of grey owners and breeders here. Australia had Greys since the 1800's, why are the SO expensive here?! It's absolutely CRAZY. I can't find one for under 4 grand and doubt many people here would have theirs if they had to fork out that kind of money.


Anyway have been doing extensive research and I remember my cockatiel was very dusty, apparently it, along with Cockatoos and Greys are what are known as 'powder down birds'. I have decided to forget getting a grey or any type of bird now because I can't afford one and I have concerns about breathing in their dust.


Here are some articles for newbies to read BEFORE buying one. I had the tiel for over 10 years, kept indoors as a child, and it was so dusty. I now have dry cough and am unsure what is causing and it coming across these articles it hit me that it was probably the affects of the tiel dust all these years later. I have decided to just keep my last Aibo as a 'pet' and forget about ever owning bio-animals again. Or maybe I will just buy a $20.00 rat as it least that will bond with me and at least it will be REAL. I really wanted to care for another living thing and after reading SO MUCH about Greys I was prepared to devote a lot of time to one and even bath it every day to cut down the dust, but EVERYTHING is against that ever happening. Bye everyone.


My African Grey....been together for 13 years. Apperently over the years I have developed a hypersensitivity to her dust. I have had to endure several years of inhaled corticosteroids and recently a lung biopsy that showed I was being affected by my Grey's dander.


The doctor tells me I have to get rid of my bird or I will die!


source: http://africangreyparrot.info/thread/6669/african-grey-dust-affecting-me#ixzz4eVz5Cu3z


Bird Fancier's Lung - This is a disease that affects humans. It starts when dried feces dust is inhaled. The onset of symptoms occurs fairly rapidly, usually within a 6-hour period. Symptoms include chills, fever, dry cough and chest pain. This condition is very rare and is only occasionally fatal.




There is a disease called allergic alveolitis (also known as budgerigar dander pneumonicosis, bird breeder's disease, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and pigeon breeder's lung) which affects the lungs and occurs in people who are hypersensitive to feathers, feather dust, and fecal material -- expecially from pigeons and budgies. You can read more about it in Allergic Alveolitus.


source: http://www.birdsnways.com/wisdom/ww59e.htm


Allergic Alveolitis

Allergic alveolitis has a number of names among which include hypersensitivity pneumonitis, parakeet dander pneumoconiosis and pigeon lung disease. It occurs in people who are hypersensitive to feathers, feather dust, and fecal material -- expecially from pigeons and budgies. Signs can occur within two years but often take as long as 10 - 20 years with continued exposure.


It may occur in an acute, subacute or chronic form. The acute form occurs within 4 - 8 hours of inhalation of a high level of feathers, featherdust and/or feces. Coughing, difficulty breathing, chills and fever occur. If exposure is stopped at this time, no treatment is necessary and the signs will disappear. The subacute form results from long term exposure. A dry cough and progresssive breathing difficulty occur. This form may also be reversed if continued exposure is stopped. If continued exposure occurs, a chronic, nonreversible form occurs -- leading to progressive difficulty breathing, a dry cough and weight loss.


Allergic alveolitis decreases lung capacity and causes impaired diffusion of air through the alveoli of the lungs.



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