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7 Fun Games To Play with African Grey Parrots

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Mental stimulation is a critical component of African grey care. They’re widely considered the most intelligent parrot species and must be entertained to stave off boredom.

African greys can develop an extensive vocabulary, so try playing games that involve identifying objects or singing together. They also like to play hide and seek and locate hidden treats.

A parrot can be taught to fetch and retrieve a small ball or dunk and toss a basketball using a small hoop. Chasing games are also fun, as long as the bird doesn’t grow too excitable.

Playing together at least twice daily will keep an African grey parrot happy and contented. Parrots forge deep emotional bonds, and these games will soon become the highlight of their day.

How To Play with An African Grey Parrot

While toys go some way to keeping an African grey happy, it’ll soon grow bored with just its own company. Here are some games you can play with a parrot to keep it happy:

Questions And Answers Sessions

African greys often develop an extensive vocabulary, learning hundreds of English words. According to the Journal of Comparative Psychology, parrots can also learn to identify objects.

You can play with an African grey by teaching it different shapes, colors, and other identifiable features and quizzing them. Hold up a red building block and ask the parrot what color it is.

Over time, you can teach the parrot more advanced responses to verbal cues. For example, try singing the first line of a song and encouraging the parrot to learn the next line.

how to entertain African grey parrots

Peek-a-Boo And Hide and Seek

Once you’ve bonded, your African grey will want to spend time with you. Turn this into a game by playing hide and seek, encouraging it to find you.

Start small by playing peek-a-boo. Stand before the cage and place something over your face, like a cushion. Use a saying like “peek-a-boo” or “Where did I go?” before revealing yourself.

After a short time, you can evolve into an active game of hide and seek outside the cage.

Stand behind a curtain, hide behind furniture, or cover yourself with a blanket, and issue the trigger saying. The parrot will soon attempt to track you down.

The goal is to hide well enough that the parrot enjoys looking for you but not so convincingly that the bird grows distressed because it thinks you’ve abandoned it.

Fetch

Screw up a piece of paper, or roll a very light ball toward the parrot.

At first, the parrot may wonder what you’re doing. Then, it’ll get the hang of the game and return the ball to you. You may be surprised at how good a parrot’s aim can be when tossing a ball with its beak.

Once a parrot has mastered the fundamentals of the game, you can start tossing the ball further around the room. Use a command word like “fetch it!” and the parrot will comply.

Chasing Games

Parrots enjoy games that involve being chased. To keep the chases short, place a parrot on the bed and use your fingers to approach. Pet the parrot when you catch it.

Parrots love this game, especially as it has a reward. You can also step back and encourage the parrot to come to you. Avoid overstimulating the bird to the point of excitement where it pecks or nips you.

The easiest way to achieve this is by using fun words in a light and playful tone while you approach.

Chase games should only be played in short, controlled bursts. A parrot will likely play along and force you to work to catch it, but don’t play for so long that the parrot grows exhausted.

Dance Competition

Many parrots love to dance, so why not treat this as a game?

Parrots learn how to dance by imitating humans, so try making different motions to styles of music. Change the track, and the parrot will switch its dance moves.

A parrot’s anatomy differs from a human’s, so only teach dance moves a parrot can imitate. Also, choose music that’s different enough for the parrot to understand.

Try bobbing your head back and forward to classic rock, flapping your arms to an upbeat pop song, and lifting and dropping your legs to a rap. A parrot’s dancing will vary like an avian game of Simon Says.

what do African grey parrots like to do for fun?

Basketball

Believe it or not, parrots are frequently skilled basketball players. An African grey will love this game.

Pick up a miniature basketball hoop and ball designed for a desktop and show the parrot how to drop the ball through the hoop.

Add a command phrase, like “slam dunk” or “two points,” and encourage the parrot to imitate your actions. Before you know it, it’ll show skills worthy of the NBA.

If you’re ambitious, teach a parrot to toss the ball at the hoop from a distance. This will be tough, but it’ll give the parrot a sense of achievement when it makes a shot, especially if you celebrate its success.

Eventually, this can become a fun game with the parrot – you can take turns shooting at the basket and keep score. Don’t be embarrassed if the parrot wins, as parrots are often natural ballers.

Find the Treat

Take 3 shells or paper cups and hide a treat, like a small piece of fruit, under 1 of them.

Let the parrot see which vessel hides the treat, then shuffle them around. A parrot will watch you do this and peck the cup or shell that guards its reward.

As per Scientific Reports, parrots have a short-term memory of 15 seconds, so they should recall where to find the treat. If all else fails, a parrot will track down the correct cup using its sense of smell.

How Often To Play with An African Grey Parrot

Play sessions needn’t be long, so 2-3 x 20 minutes will suffice.

The best times to play with a parrot are before leaving the bird alone and after you return from an absence. A play session before work will satisfy a parrot, enabling it to cope better without company.

Consider a playtime session about 1-2 hours before the parrot sleeps.

Entertaining an African grey parrot with fun, interactive games is fundamental to a happy and healthy life. Contented pet parrots are significantly less likely to develop behavioral problems and stereotypies.