The Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) also known as the African Grey Parrot is a parrot native to Africa. It is also a very popular caged bird, due to its sensitivity, intelligence and ability to mimic human speech.
Due to its popularity, intelligence and high maintenance, it is just a matter of time before one escape or is released by its owner. In land-scarce Singapore, there are not many places suitable for the parrot to live in the wild. One such place is Malcolm Park where tall trees and ample supply of food made it a haven for parrots of all sorts. There were native parrots and parakeets such as the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots and Long-tailed Parakeets, as well as introduced species like the Red-breasted Parakeets, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Coconut Lorikeets, Tanimbar Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo as well as a single Grey Parrot.
This Grey Parrot has been reported at the vicinity since at least 2005. One day in August 2011, I finally managed to see it on a walkabout. The parrot was first observed perched very high up on a tall tree. Eventually it did come down to a lower tree permitting photography and video. On closer examination, this is the subspecies erithacus, also known as Congo African Grey Parrot. It is bigger in size and have a red tail, in comparison to another equally popular parrot called the Timneh Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh)
In the video below, the bird was very concerned due to the commotion and noise caused by Tanimbar Corellas actively defending their roosting hole from a Clouded Monitor.
One of the most interesting observation that day was the discovery of its excellent mimicry of the call of the Changeable Hawk-Eagle. Perhaps it adopted this strategy to scare away other nearby birds. Its long stay there over a period of many years attest both to the long life of this parrot species, as well as the success of this particular parrot in this environment.
Since that day, a number of photographers were there to have a look over a period of many months. This parrot, like the others parrots living at Malcolm Park, was subsequently observed eating ripened oil palm fruits (Flickr:SC Lim) and African Tulip flowers (Flickr:JCho).
However, in 2012 all the tall trees that afforded the parrots protection were chopped down. This unfortunately development also meant that these parrots went elsewhere. In mid-2013, a pair of Grey Parrots were observed in the former Bidadari Cemetery. Perhaps one of them was the one from Malcolm Park. It will be hard to tell for sure though. If you happen to hear a Grey Parrot that sounds like a Changeable Hawk-Eagle in Singapore, that’s probably it.