African Greys are as smart as they are beautiful and bird owners love these creatures. But, some owners can’t help but mention their birds are dusty. Do these sleek looking birds really produce dust?
Are African greys dusty? Yes, African Greys are quite dusty since they are powder-based birds. They produce more powder than most other bird species. One good shake from this parrot and a freshly cleaned cage can be covered in a dust film. African Greys need their humans’ help to control their dust.
If you want to learn more about this mysterious bird dander, why it needs to be controlled and how to manage it, then continue reading below.
What is parrot dust?
Unfortunately, parrot dust is not as magical as fairy dust but it is interesting nonetheless.
African Greys have special down-like feathers closest to their bodies. When they preen, these feathers break down into a white or grey powdery dander. This powder helps your bird keep its feathers clean and soft.
Further, this powder helps African Grey parrots repel water. All bird feathers repel water but African Greys and other birds native to hot, dry climates are designed to repel the most water.
Not all parrots are dusty. Birds that live in wet climates, like macaws, are oil-based birds. Their preening glands secrete an oil that also cleans feathers and repels water.
The video below shows how parrot dust looks and how dusty African Greys are:
African Grey dust compared to other breeds
When it comes to producing dander, African Greys are among the worst offenders. However, they are not alone. Cockatoos are also notorious for producing a lot of dust as well.
Cockatiels are quite dusty too but of course, do not produce nearly as much dander as their larger counterparts. This is simply because these birds are much smaller. This also applies to lovebirds.
If you are looking for a bird that won’t leave clouds of dust all over your house, go for a macaw, Eclectus parrot, Pionus parrot, a Sun Conure or a parakeet (budgie). These breeds secrete oil instead of dust.
Tips for controlling your African Grey’s dust
African Greys can be great family pets (as we explain in this article) but if you want to bring an African Grey parrot into your life, be prepared for lots of parrot dust. Even if the dust doesn’t bother you, be prepared to spend lots of time cleaning up after your parrot.
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to help reduce the bird dander that’s putting a damper on your cleaning routine. Check out the most helpful tips listed below.
This sounds like the obvious answer, but that’s because it is. Maintaining a steady cleaning regimen will help to reduce the amount of dander you’ll have to deal with. If you put cleaning off for too long, it will build up and become more difficult to clean.
It’s recommended to wipe down your African Grey’s cage daily with a damp cloth. Also, it helps to frequently change the bottom of your bird’s cage.
Moistening the bottom of your African Grey’s cage will also help dust stick to the bottom. This means less dust flying into your face as you clean the bottom.
Always vacuum or mop the floor around your bird’s cage to help prevent a powder build-up.
For more tips on cleaning the birdcage, we show you 10 awesome tips in our birdcage cleaning guide here!
Be mindful of surfaces around your African Grey’s cage
Take notice of the surfaces around your bird’s cage. Some materials are much more difficult to clean than others.
Limit the amount of cloth and fibrous materials surrounding your bird. It is not so easy to clean carpets, curtains, and rugs daily. Your parrot’s dust can become embedded in the fibers of these surfaces, making cleaning difficult.
Instead, opt for surfaces like hardwood or tile floors, and plastic blinds instead of curtains. These surfaces are easy to wipe down with a damp cloth, leaving you more free time for your bird buddy.
Bathe your African Grey
Bathing your African Grey will help to greatly reduce the amount of dust coming off of your bird. The best part is that most African Grey parrots love bathing. It is a natural experience for them since they are used to occasional rain in the wild.
Baths not only help to reduce dander, but promotes preening behavior, makes feathers look healthy, and keeps your bird feeling great.
It is easy to bathe your African Grey. Most prefer a gentle spritzing with a handheld bottle. Some parrots even love to sit atop the shower and let the mist from the showerhead fall on them.
Your African Grey may also prefer to bathe in a shallow bowl of water. Your bird may prefer this type of bath if it frequently splashes around in its water dish.
Some African Greys love both forms of bathing. If you want to give your bird the best of both worlds, let your bird bathe in a sink. Fill up the base with water and let the faucet gently flow.
You can also take a shower with your African Grey. Many parrots actually like that a lot as it is also a form of bonding. To learn how to do that, read our Parrot Shower Guide here!
It is best to use room temperature water to bathe your African Grey. If the water used is too warm, it can dry out your parrot’s delicate skin. This often leads to itching and feather plucking.
You can bathe your bird daily if time allows. But bathing your bird at least once or twice a week will help to greatly reduce the amount of dander it sheds. We show you how often parrots should be bathed and what you need to know about that here!
Purchase a HEPA filter
Many of those dust particles your bird sheds will end up floating around the air in your home. The best way to reduce this is by purchasing a HEPA filter.
These filters move air through a fine mesh filter. It traps pesky particles like allergens, mites, smoke, pollen and of course, bird dust.
Many HEPA filters are quiet, portable, and easy to clean. It’s a great addition to any home with dusty birds.
Also, make sure to clean other standard air filters in your home regularly such as furnace filters, air conditioner filters, and vacuum filters.
Why controlling bird dust is important
Controlling your bird’s dust may sound like a lot of work but it is necessary if you want to own an African Grey. Listed below are the main reasons as to why it is essential to keep your parrot’s dust to a minimum.
- It can affect your parrot’s respiratory system. A parrot’s respiratory system has small but effective openings. Unfortunately, it is easy for these openings to get clogged. If the air your parrot breathes is full of dander, this can become a harmful reality. Dander-filled air can also lead to respiratory infections in birds.
- It can lead to allergies. Your parrot’s respiratory system isn’t the only thing that can be affected by dander in the air. Bird owners are at risk of lung inflammation from breathing in bird dust. This issue goes by many names including bird fancier’s lung, bird breeder’s lung, and farmer’s lung. Some symptoms of bird dander allergies include coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, or a sore, itchy throat.
- It can trigger asthma. If you suffer from asthma, then an excessive amount of bird dust in your home can lead to more asthma attacks. The dander triggers some people’s airways to constrict and swell, leading to difficulty breathing. If asthma is an issue, it is best to clean frequently or opt for a breed that is not powder-based.
How smart is an African Grey? This species of parrot is among the most intelligent. They are capable of learning words and doing math. What’s most impressive is that African Greys can use these words in context to communicate what they mean. They are said to be as intelligent as a 5-year-old child.
Why are African Greys so expensive? These parrots are expensive because they are a rare breed. Also, they are highly coveted because African Greys are extremely intelligent. Since so many people want them, the cost increases. Other factors such as appearance, lineage, and age play a part in the cost of purchasing these birds.