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what do African grey parrots like to play with?

7 Fun Games To Play with African Grey Parrots

(Last Updated On: January 13, 2023)

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

African greys have an extensive vocabulary, so you can play games that involve identifying objects or attempting to sing together. Parrots also love 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 suitably small hoop. Chasing games are also fun, as long as the parrot doesn’t grow too excitable.

You’ll keep your African grey parrot contented by playing at least twice daily. Parrots forge deep emotional bonds, and these games will quickly become the highlight of their day.

Do African Grey Parrots Like to Play?

If you’re wondering, “what do African grey parrots like to do for fun?” the answer is everything. Your parrot will need near-constant stimulation and entertainment lest it grows frustrated and withdrawn.

Toys are okay while you are unavailable, but by the time you get around to seeing your parrot, your African grey’s body language will tell you that these sources of amusement will have been exhausted.

Your parrot will be keen to enjoy some interactive time with its favorite human.

What Do African Grey Parrots Like to Play With?

Anything can be considered a parrot toy under the right circumstances.

African greys love to chew, shred, and interact with static objects. They also love exploring and investigating new territory, but this is impossible within a caged environment.

African grey parrots are natural imitators, which means they’ll be fascinated by most things humans interact with. Your African grey will follow suit if you play with a parrot toy.

how to entertain African grey parrots

How to Play with Your African Grey Parrot

While toys will go some way to keeping an African grey happy, it’ll quickly grow bored with only its own company. Here are seven games you can play to keep your parrot happy:

Questions and Answers

African grey parrots have among the largest vocabulary of all avian companions, often learning up to 1,000 words. Perhaps more importantly, as per the Journal of Comparative Psychology, they can learn to identify particular objects.

You can play with your African grey by teaching it different shapes, colors, and other identifiable features and quizzing them on the item. Hold up a red building block and ask the parrot what color it is; it’ll likely answer correctly once it learns.

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

Eventually, you’ll have full conversations, which will be fun and stimulating for humans and birds alike.

Peek-a-Boo and Hide and Seek

Once you’ve successfully bonded with your African grey, it’ll actively want to spend time with you. Turn this into a game by playing hide and seek, encouraging it to find you during out-of-cage exercise.

Start small by playing peek-a-boo, like you would with a small child. Stand in front of the cage and place something over your face, like a cushion. Use a saying like “peek-a-boo” or “where did I go?” then reveal 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 a piece of furniture, or cover yourself with a blanket, and issue the trigger saying. The parrot will quickly come to track you down.

Playing hide and seek with a parrot contains an element of balance. The trick is to hide well enough that your parrot enjoys looking for you but not so convincingly that the bird grows distressed as it thinks you have abandoned it.


While more commonly associated with dogs, many parrots – including African greys – also enjoy games of fetch and catch. Screw up a piece of paper, or use a very light ball, and roll this toward your parrot.

At first, the parrot may wonder what you’re doing. Then, it’ll quickly 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 your parrot has mastered the fundamentals of the game, you can start tossing the ball further and further around the house. Ensure you use a command word like “fetch it!” and the parrot will do that.

This game will provide your parrot with mental stimulation, strengthen your bond, and help both of you get some exercise.

Chasing Games

While parrots don’t have a prey drive akin to mammalian pets, they’ll enjoy games that involve being chased. Keep the chasing short by placing a parrot on the bed and using your fingers to approach. Tickle or pet your parrot when you ‘catch’ it.

Parrots will often love this game, especially as it comes with a ‘reward’ at the conclusion. 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 at you.

The easiest way to achieve this is by using fun words in a light and playful tone while you approach. Saying, “I’m gonna tickle the birdie,” is likelier to be seen as a game.

Chase games should also only be played in short, controlled bursts. Your parrot will likely play along and make you work to ‘catch’ it, but don’t play so long that your parrot grows exhausted and cranky.

Dance Competition

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

Parrots learn how to dance by imitating humans, so you can make different motions to varying styles of music. Change the track, and your parrot will switch its dance moves accordingly.

Remember that parrot anatomy differs from a human’s, so ensure you teach dance moves that your parrot can imitate. Choose music that is different enough for your parrot to understand too.

Try bobbing your head forward and back to classic rock, flapping your arms to a cheerful pop song, and lifting and dropping your legs to a rap.

Switch tracks periodically, and your parrot will vary its dancing like an avian game of Simon Says.

what do African grey parrots like to do for fun?


Believe it or not, parrots are frequently skilled basketball players, and your African grey will love this game. Pick up a miniature basketball hoop and ball designed for a desktop, and show your parrot how to drop the ball through the hoop.

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

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

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

Find the Treat

Take three shells or paper cups and hide a treat, such as a small piece of fruit, under one of them.

Let your parrot see what vessel is hiding the treat, then shuffle them around. Your 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 around 15 seconds, so they should recall where to find the treat. If all else fails, the parrot will track down the correct cup using its sense of smell.

How Often Should You Play with Your African Grey Parrot?

Play with your parrot no less than once a day, but ideally, make the time at least twice. These sessions don’t need to be too long, so 20 minutes will be long enough.

The best times to play with your parrot are before leaving the bird alone for a prolonged period and after you return from an absence. A play session before going o work will sate and tire your parrot, so it copes better without company for a while.

When you walk in the door after a day at work, your parrot will be delighted to see you. This will lead to a burst of energy. Use play to burn off some of this excitement and prevent your parrot from being too stimulated when it exercises.

You could also consider playtime before your parrot goes to bed. The more exhausted your parrot is, the less it will resist being plunged into darkness and left alone overnight.

Learning how to entertain African grey parrots is at the core of creating a happy and enjoyable life for your pet. Pair traditional, solo environmental enrichment with interactive games, and you’ll enjoy a long and contented bond.