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Interesting Grey Parrot Facts and Recomendations

Below is a summary of some of the interesting things we have learned.  We hope that they are correct and will try to supply references when we remember!


1. African Grey Parrots have no gallbladder

2. Teflon is Polytetrafluorethylene is toxic to birds.
Actually human's can develop acute respiratory illnesses from this in the occupational exposure settings as well.
Always check for exposure sources such as heaters, irons, etc.

3. Beware of galvanized steel.  Zinc is used in the plating process. Zinc can behave like lead so be cautious if there is a potential for ingestion.

4. Initial vet checks:  Reportedly, these birds are prone to
sinus infections (humidity might play a role).

5. Standing on one foot is normal and the sign of a healthy bird.  Evolution has resulted in birds appearing healthy even when sick as a defense against predators.

6. Cage time Advice we received:  Plan on the bird's future amount of time that s/he will be allowed out but remember that babies will get more time than adults.

Some have suggested that  A varied schedule prevents the bird from becoming neurotic and upset if a routine schedule is interrupted.   This seems to work fine with her

7. Be persistent with step-up training.   Read the Pet Bird report at   If we had kids, we would raise them that way.
This was our first pet and following the advice works. 

8. Be careful of the internet news groups.  There is some good advice but a lot of bad advice as well.  rec.pets.birds and alt.parrots.african-grey are interesting but always take them with a grain of salt.

9. Diet : Do not underestimate the importance of diet, especially in this kind of bird.   There is nothing "natural" about high fat (seed) diets for birds.    People in 3rd world countries eat "natural diets" and tend to live to about 45 years of age.

10. Get a good avian vet.

Metal Toxicology

Heavy Metals:

It is not always easy to find information about the sources of potential heavy metal poisoning.  As there is a lot of information available about metal toxicology from human occupational exposure, some of the facts may be helpful to those trying to determine the source of exposures in parrots.  Sometimes some detective work is involved.

Below are some helpful facts and references.  

Animal Poison Control Center: 1-800-548-2423 ( $30.00 fee) - Haven't tried these

American Association of Poison Control Centers (  This is mean for humans but these centers have a lot of information about what exactly is in many household products and chemicals, etc.


Sources and Types of  Metals and Some basic reference material on humans

Stainless Steel - nickel alloy   *

Permanent Magnets: Alloys of nickel, cobalt, aluminum and iron *

Galvanized Steel :  Zinc is used to make this  steel alloy - but sometimes Zinc baths used to make this have been contaminated with Lead**

Brass: Alloys of copper and Zinc: Usually 2:1 ratio but sometimes lead is found as well *

Bronze: Also forms of copper alloy, some of which contain large amounts of Zinc *

Zinc chloride:  solid corrosive to skin and mucous membranes.  Inhalation exposures associated with lung injury, alveolitis and bronchpneumonia *

Zinc Oxide :  Sunburn preventive:  White pigment ( Remember all those white noses at the beach?)   Effects:  Metal fume fever can occur in response to fumes of this or respirable particles. *



        * Occupational  Diseases; A Guide to their Recognition:  US Dept of HHW 1977

        ** Burgess WA Recognition of Health Hazards in Industry  New York , John Wiley and Sons 1981












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Last modified: May 18, 1999