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Fun with Fred – African Grey Parrot Bath

If you’ve been reading the blog, you’ve already met Fred.  If you’re new, you’ll probably wonder who Fred is and why he’s on a blog about Australian Shepherds.  Well, Fred is our Timneh African Grey Parrot.  And he’s on the blog because…he’s part of the pack….flock….our family!

I hope you enjoy his awesome bathing process.


African Grey Parrots

Greys are incredibly smart birds.  They can learn an extensive vocabulary and have excellent associative abilities.  For example, Fred has correctly correlated the morning hours with the expression “Good Morning”.  He’ll often repeat that salutation a dozen times until he feels satisfied with his communication.  (He also occasionally says it after he or one of us wakes from a nap.)

When they are not properly challenged and facilitated, their intelligence can lead to destructive habits – loud yelling, feather plucking, lack of contentment when left in their cage, etc.  Thankfully, as a dog mom of two Australian Shepherds, I’m familiar with how to accommodate intelligent animals.  Fred has lots of challenging toys in his cage, occasional clicker training and lots of time out with us.  Similar to the dogs – they play with toys, get to go on adventures, are trained fairly regularly and hang out with us basically all the time.

This toy has 3 cups you hide food in. The bird has to unscrew the cup to get the food and then manage to hold onto it while he fishes out his prize.

Fred is Family

We rescued Fred just like we did Sydney.  We have had him for nearly a year and half and he is now around 14 years old.  Just as with Sydney, it took him awhile to decide he wanted to trust us.  It took Sydney 6 – 9 months, which I think might be unusual.  She came with a fair amount of baggage so it makes sense.  It wasn’t until she’d been with us for a year that she readily wagged her tail.  She loves us now though and we are very happy to have her.

Fred, being an animal that can live to be 100 years old, forgives and forgets much less easily.  He had two families before us.  The men in each home were not nice to him.  As a result, he has been slow to trust Brian.  Thankfully, because his primary caregiver in both previous homes was a brunette woman, he immediately accepted me as his new mom.

Fred has always been very polite when it comes to accepting food from somebody, including from Brian, and he recently started sitting on Brian when we watch movies.

Fred in his typical relaxation pose – notice how he only has one leg. When a bird sits on one leg, they are resting and it indicates they trust their surface (in this case, Brian).

Fred and the Hairy ‘Flock’

Fred does not appear to distinguish himself from the dogs.  He knows he lives elevated above them and that he prefers to be in high places.  But when he does find himself on the ground, he rarely runs away from them.  In fact, much to his disadvantage, he doesn’t seem to perceive them as a threat at all.  He will walk right in front of Trooper and Trooper’s bone….that is a very dangerous thing to do as Trooper often times interprets such an action as an immediate threat to his prize.

Because african greys are very flock oriented, we believe he thinks of all four of us as his flock (me, Brian, Trooper and Sydney).  Even though we have never recorded his behavior while we’re gone, he appears more at ease when the dogs are left home with him.  He’d rather have an odd-looking flock member nearby than be abandoned by himself.

Fred has flown off a few times and we have always easily recovered him. He would much rather live an indoor life with his flock than have a wild life with nobody.

Fred periodically drops food off the counter for the dogs and he talks to them every day – “Good girl”. “No!”, “Good boy”, “Let’s go”, “Come on”, “Go!”

He usually makes sure he is heard in the dog training videos, so don’t be surprised if you hear or see more of him in the future.  He’s always up to something funny and we try our best to catch him on camera.  Enjoy!