Timneh African Grey Parrot

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Is the Timneh African Grey Parrot right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: TAG; Timneh; Timneh Grey Parrot

Scientific name: Psittacus timneh

The basics:
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.)

Average size:
30 centimeters (12 in.)

40+ years

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

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