Species group: African Parrots
Other common names: TAG; Timneh; Timneh Grey Parrot
Scientific name: Psittacus timneh
The Timneh African Grey Parrot is the smaller, calmer relative of the Congo African Grey Parrot, considered to be the most intelligent of all parrots. In fact, they are such close relatives that they were only split into two separate species in 2013. But the Timneh can be distinguished at a glance from the Congo African Grey Parrot, since the Timneh has a maroon rather than a red tail. Many pet owners say that they can also see some differences in behavior.
Like their famous relative, Timnehs have a wonderful gift for mimicry, and they can learn to speak dozens if not hundreds as words, as well as to imitate any sound that captures their imagination. Although not as dusty as Cockatoos, African Grey Parrots do have powder down, so if you are prone to allergies, you need to check with your doctor before you bring an African Grey into your home.
In terms of behavioral differences, there is an ongoing debate over whether there are significant differences in temperament between Congos and Timnehs. Some believe the Timnehs are slightly more relaxed and less prone to feather picking and other neurotic behavior. Another difference is that Congo Greys have a reputation for changing their bonded humans - usually from the primary caregiver to a spouse or older child. One survey found that, "63 percent of the male Congo Greys changed their preference from the primary caregiver to another family member. They did this between the ages of two and three years. Sixteen percent of the female Congo Greys in the survey changed their human bonds." The survey didn't find any TImnehs that changed pair bonds or grew up to reject their primary caregivers.
The Timneh originates from a relatively small range in coastal West Africa. Like their CAG relatives, they are gregarious and form large, ground-feeding flocks, which makes them vulnerable to trappers and smugglers. Although the species is currently ranked as Near Threatened, the numbers remaining in the wild don't seem to be well understood or based on good science, so the TAGs could be in some danger. Know your breeder, and do not tolerate those who offer birds of questionable background.
The smaller of the two famous gray parrot species, Timneh Parrots have a maroon tail, instead of the bright red tail of the Congo African Grey. CAGs have an all-dark bill, whereas Timneh's have a large pinkish or light area on their upper bill.
300 - 375 grams (10.5 - 13 oz.)
30 centimeters (12 in.)
Behavior / temperament:
The Timneh African Grey Parrot is highly respected as an intelligent and intuitive mimic that learns to speak earlier and is not as nervous as the Congo African Grey Parrot. Most people think they're a little less phobic and nervous than the CAGs. But please be realistic. A Timneh may not be as sensitive as a CAG, but it may still be bashful about new people and toys. Let the bird observe you interacting with the new person or new toy from a safe place before you plunge your pet into the center of attention. It is always very important to handle Timnehs with an attitude of mutual respect and trust. They don't understand punishment, nor do they understand screaming and scolding. You teach these birds with positive reinforcement, by creating a feeling of security so that they can develop the confidence to speak up and to play with you. They may enjoy playing small pranks like ringing the doorbell or setting off the car alarm. It's amazing how accurate their mimicry can be. Enjoy their games for the high spirits that they are.
A single pet Timneh African Grey Parrot should have a powder-coated metal cage of a minimum36”w x 24”d x 36”h with no more than 1” bar spacing. They need to have some access to natural sunlight or else to full-spectrum lighting, to assist their bodies in creating vitamin D that can help them properly absorb calcium. They should also have a separate play area, where they can forage, enjoy their toys, and exercise their bodies as well as their active brains. Make sure that all toys and perches are safe for the powerful beak of your African Grey.
Timneh African Grey Parrots can be a challenge to feed. Over the years, many people have experienced problems with calcium deficiencies. Calcium supplements alone may not be sufficient, since calcium is only properly absorbed in the presence of vitamin D. I strongly advise every new Timneh African Grey Parrot owner to consult closely with a breeder, more advanced Grey owner, an avian vet, or all three. It is also important to provide natural sources of vitamin A or its precursor beta carotene. All Grey owners should know how to prepare a “chop” mix of deep green and deep red or orange fruits and vegetables that offer a rich source of these nutrients. The core of the diet should be a pellet or soak-and-cook formula that is specifically designed for African Greys. You may choose to supplement your pet's diet with high quality food from your plate, such as whole grain, brown rice, whole grain pasta, very well-cooked beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Some people puree deep orange vegetables like well-cooked yams to spoon-feed to their pets in the evening. Caution: Never feed any parrot avocado or chocolate. Whole nuts and seeds can be great treats if they are held back for training rewards or hidden in foraging toys to encourage the Grey to exercise.
Written by Elaine Radford
excellent talkers, intellegent african greys, friendly fellow, sweet girl
high-strung grey, bite, feather plucking, evil hubby eyes, novice bird owner, loud noises
underappreciated parrots, phone ring noise, Zupreem pellets, night night, vitamin D supplements
My best buddy Toby
I rescued my African Grey Temneh two years ago, now and posted his story on FB to show you that all birds needs love, and will respond to it. He had been put inside a cage, rolled to a back room, and there he stayed for his first three years or so…poor baby. When I rescued him, all he could say was, "You are bad bird, don’t bite!” That was all he heard for years I could purely assume, as African Grey's only know how to mimic human voices, not make them up.
There are two types of African Grey, the Congo (CAG), and the Timneh African Grey (TAG). The African Grey Parrot originates from Africa, of course, but each from a different part, one from the West and one from Central Africa.
An African Grey is not a small-time investment, or short term pet. They cost up to $1500 and can live about 60 years.
Read up about their temperament first. They will bite the hand who feeds them, and it can break skin and even bones of little fingers.
The CAG is the larger of the two, and about 12 – 14 inches and weighs around a pound. It is also lighter gray, with a bright red tail, and black beak. The TAG is smaller, about 10 inches, and 10 ounces. They are darker gray and a dark maroon tail, and a pinkish colored upper mandible or beak.
CAGs usually begin talking around 12-18 months of age, where the TAG will begin around 6-12 months old. They can mimic hundreds of sounds and voices that they hear, especially their owner’s voice. The CAG sounds more like the owner, and the TAG has its own little voice and mimics anyone's voice it repeatedly hears. Some say they will learn and speak up to 1500 words, and the longer you talk to them, the more they will learn.
Today, with lots of love and care, bonding, and trust building on both our parts, Toby now says everything you can think of, and is the entertainment and comedian of the house. Here are just some of the things he says:
After our morning coffee together, I asked my son, "What are you going to do?", and Toby answered, "Just going to cook an egg." - which is our usual conversation with each other and Tobes picked it all up lol
*In the morning before I uncover him, he asks, Where's Toby? and "Toby, where you at?" and "Toby, what are you doing?"
*Of course he does the water gurgling sound when he sees a bottle of water, or hears the tap running.
*Toby says, "Gotta go poop," then squats, poops, and looks down at it and says it again.
If Toby hears a loud bang or boom, he says, "OUCH!"
*"What are you up to?"
*"Come here, I love you"
*"Toby, Toby, Toby, Toby, Toooooobyyyyy"
*"Im such a pretty birrrrrrrd."
*He does the lip-smacking noise, and says, "Gimme a kiss. Come on, gimme a kiss."
* He yells for our cat, "Cali!"
*Huh, what did you say, Huh?"
*He barks like a Great Dane, then yips like our Dachshund.
*"Brrrr, its cold out"
*Toby whistles, then call the dogs, "Come on, hurry up"
*He coughs, he sneezes, and then he say, "Ohhhh".
Toby asks, "Do you like that, huh? Is that good?"
I bought a new (used mid-century modern) shelf, and was pounding nails to tighten it up a little. Toby yells, "QUIT! Stop it! Quiet!" I am still laughing.
I handed Toby a piece of organic, shaved parmesan cheese, and after taking a bite, he said, "Mmmmm good," which I have been saying to him for a year now.
The geese have been flying north, and Toby is working on his goose "Gwak, gwak" as they fly over.
Remember, a parrot of any type, is a lifetime pet. There are unfortunate misunderstandings by those who do not do their research. There are too many unwanted birds, going without good homes, research, research, research..
From AskAWebExpert May 21 2015 12:18PM
Groucho My Little Companion
As usual I was visiting the local pet store and every time I was in there I would see the Timneh African Grey Parrot. He was there for quite a few months and nobody seemed to want to buy him. I asked the owner why and he said that the bird is too old to train and people don't want older parrots. They are usually too set in their ways.
I found that very sad, especially because whenever I was at the store this particular bird used to come to the edge of the cage and try and interact with me. He was very expensive or I myself would have bought him.
Right beside this bird that I was becoming friends with, was a green amazon parrot which used to say, "Hey I Think I Know that Guy!" and "My Name is Alex, What's Yours?"
I told my brother how comical it was to hear this amazon parrot and he became interested and wanted to see him. I had also mentioned my growing friendship with the African Grey but he didn't seem to be interested in him.
When my brother and myself went to the shop to see the Amazon my brother noticed how the African Grey would come to the front of the cage and how he tried to interact with me. He told me he could see that the bird really liked me and asked why I didn't buy him. That was a dumb question because he knows I don't have a lot of money.
That day he decided to buy the Amazon and to my surprise he asked the store owner if he would get a discount if he purchase 2 birds. The owner was more than happy to find a buyer for the African Grey since no one had wanted him. So, that day my brother bought both birds and as a surprise gave me the African Grey as a gift.
On the way home the African Grey was trying to get out of his box. You could see his large beak breaking through the cardboard. We didn't know if we would arrive home with the bird still in the box or flying around the cabin of the car. Luckily we made it home. The African Grey was making growling sounds, almost like a dog and I was a little frightened. I found out later that this is common for this species. When they are nervous they growl. Because of this I named my little friend "Groucho"
Groucho could do a wolf whistle and actually learned to say a few words also. He was a dear little guy. Sadly, I had a divorce and went back to school to get a degree so that I could have a decent job.
I would leave early in the morning, and because I was in an apartment, I had to keep the cover over the cage when I left or Groucho would start wolf whistling and waking the neighours up in the adjacent apartments. I did get home around 3:00 pm and uncovered him and played with him but soon I started to notice that he started plucking his feathers.
I couldn't have my poor little baby unhappy and lonely like that so I found another home for him where he could have all the attention he deserved. I miss him very much and sadly I have no idea how he is doing today..
From Sharronbbw Mar 15 2014 3:11PM
It may Help the Bird Stop Plucking
Clomicalm (clomipramine) treats stress and agitation. Many animal behaviorists believe that some birds pluck their feathers due to stress. The plucking becomes a nervous habit that is difficult to break. The prescription medication may relax the bird enough that the habit ceases. Unfortunately, when the drug is discontinued, many birds again start plucking.
Always discuss the possible side effects of the medication with your veterinarian before administering it to your pet bird. .
From KimberlySharpe 207 days ago