I’ve been looking to spruce up my African greys’ living space recently, and one of the main suggestions I’ve heard is that parrots love to have a mirror.
I have heard this before but I’d never decided to go for it as I had heard mixed things.
I thought it could be fun for them to have, and because I have a few I didn’t think it would be a problem if they misinterpreted it as another bird.
Nonetheless, I decided to do my research and answer this question once and for all.
So, do African greys like mirrors?
There’s a bit of debate about this, but the general consensus is that larger birds are okay with mirrors as they can distinguish it as not a real bird. It can depend on the bird’s individual personality, though, as it can lead to aggression. It is worth trialling a mirror, and seeing how they react.
Some African greys may love a mirror, and just see it as a fun toy to mess around with.
Others may feel territorial threatened, thinking that their reflection is actually another bird.
It’s honestly a bit of a difficult question, so the best advice is always to try it out and see how they react.
Let’s look further into this.
Do African greys recognize themselves in a mirror?
There’s not, to date, been any peer reviewed research into this question.
So, the short answer is we don’t know!
There is a folk consensus that smaller parrots do not recognize that the mirror is showing a reflection of themselves, but larger ones do.
This would mean that African greys can indeed recognize themselves in a mirror, but this is really not always the case.
Many owners have reported that putting a mirror in the cage with their African grey did not lead to great results.
The best rule of thumb, then, is to assume that no, African greys do not recognize themselves in the mirror.
There are several potential risks with putting mirrors in your African greys cage, so let’s consider whether it’s a good idea in the first place.
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Should I put a mirror in my African grey’s cage?
As I’ve said, it largely depends on the individual bird and how many you have.
If you have only a single bird, then a mirror is not going to be very helpful.
You should be ensuring that you are sufficiently socializing your African grey, and not relying on mirrors.
If you have multiple African greys, they’re likely to do better with a mirror since they have a real companion to play with.
However, some African greys are simply too aggressive for mirrors. If they don’t recognize it as themselves, then it may cause them to get territorial, seeing the reflection as an interloper in their home.
Ultimately, then, for my money, mirrors are more trouble than they are worth for your African grey.
They may in some cases have fun with a mirror, but nothing that they couldn’t get out of any other kind of toy.
They like things to climb on, bells, pretty much anything that they can manipulate with their feet.
If you are using mirrors, though, or are at least going to try it, then it’s vital to be sure that they aren’t scared of them.
Are African greys scared of mirrors?
In general, no.
They shouldn’t really be scared in the sense that they will start being worried and fear for their wellbeing.
That said, there are many similar emotions that can be caused by mirrors.
The biggest issue is going to be that they think it is another bird, and feel threatened by this.
This can cause fear-like reactions and emotions.
As I said, the most important thing you can do as their owner is to carefully monitor them for a good few days after you introduce the mirror.
You may notice no negative reaction at all, and possibly even a positive one.
However, again, the opposite could also occur.
You can’t know how your African grey will react unless you keep a close eye on them after giving them the mirror, so be sure to keep watch on them.
If they show any signs of fear, stress or aggression after putting the mirror in their cage, then you need to know what to do in this case.
Let’s look into that.
What to do if African grey has a bad reaction to a mirror
The simple thing is to remove it immediately.
Don’t let them play with it or look at it anymore if it is causing them undue stress and anxiety.
Stay with them after removing the mirror to make sure they are okay, and comfort them if needed.
Provide some treats if you can.
If their mood does not seem to improve, then it may be worth seeing a vet about their behavior.
The reaction to the mirror could indicate something more deep-seated, so it’s worth being sure that they are fine and not unwell in some way.
The simple answer is that it depends, then.
For the most part, mirrors are not a problem, as long as they are distorted and not offering a true reflection.
A true reflection can lead to confusion and even frustration in an African grey, so be aware that there are potential issues with introducing a mirror into your bird’s cage.
There are always other toys if they struggle with a mirror, so don’t worry if they don’t seem to like it.