Timneh African Grey: Facts, Diet, Behavior, Pictures

The Timneh African Grey (Psittacus timneh), a parrot species native to the rainforests of West Africa, has long captivated bird enthusiasts with its intelligence, vocal abilities, and striking appearance.

As a close relative of the more widely known Congo African Grey, the Timneh has its own unique charm and characteristics.

This article delves deep into the world of the Timneh African Grey, offering insights into its behavior, care needs, and the nuances that set it apart from other parrots

Timneh African Grey

Quick Summary

AttributeKey Points
Physical Description– Smaller than Congo African Greys- Dark charcoal grey plumage
– Maroon tail- Lighter beak
Habitat and Geographic Range– Rainforests of West Africa
– Restricted geographic area compared to Congo African Greys
Diet and Nutrition– Omnivorous diet
– Fruits, vegetables, seeds, and insects
– Need balanced nutrition for optimal health
Behavior and Social Tendencies– Social and intelligent
– Form strong bonds with owners- Need mental stimulation and social interaction
Vocalization and Intelligence– Highly vocal and mimicking abilities
– Intelligent and capable of problem-solving
Breeding and Reproduction– Monogamous (mate for life)
– Lay 2-4 eggs per clutch- 30-day incubation period
Pet Ownership and Care– Need spacious cages and toys
– Daily care routines- Adopting can be a rewarding option
Conservation Status– Vulnerable status
– Threats include habitat loss and illegal pet trade
Price and Purchase Considerations– Prices range from $1,000 to $3,000
– Influenced by age, health, and training
– Adopting older birds can be beneficial
Comparison with Congo African Greys– Timneh’s are smaller and have a darker plumage
– Behavioral and vocal differences exist

Timneh African Grey: Physical Description

The Timneh African Grey Parrot, often overshadowed by its more popular relative, the Congo African Grey, has its own unique charm and characteristics. 

Averaging between 9 and 11 inches in length, the Timneh is slightly more compact, making it a favorite for those who prefer a smaller bird that’s easier to manage.

Their feathers boast a deep charcoal gray, subtly darker than the Congo’s. The Timneh’s maroon tail sets it apart, contrasting with the bright red tail of the Congo. 

Another distinguishing feature is their beak. While the upper mandible is a pale bone color with a dark tip, the lower is pitch black, unlike the Congo’s uniformly black beak.

From my years of experience with Timnehs, their appearance always exudes a sense of regal poise. The pale yellow of their eyes radiates intelligence and curiosity, making them a captivating presence in any room. 

Their slightly smaller stature compared to the Congo might be a draw for potential bird owners. However, it’s essential to remember that despite their smaller size, Timnehs are bursting with personality and intelligence.

Timneh feathers boast a deep charcoal gray

Habitat and Geographic Range

The Timneh African Grey parrot is native to the West African regions, specifically in countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the western parts of the Ivory Coast. 

Unlike their Congo counterparts, Timneh’s are found in a more restricted geographic area.

These birds predominantly reside in dense rainforests, but they’ve also been spotted in mangroves, wooded savannahs, and even cultivated areas. 

Their preference leans towards primary and secondary forests, where they can easily find food and nesting sites.

Deforestation and habitat loss pose significant threats to their natural habitats. As forests are cleared for agriculture and urbanization, the Timneh’s living space shrinks, leading to a decline in their population. 

This habitat degradation is one of the reasons why Timneh African Greys are listed as endangered.

Protecting their natural habitats is crucial not just for the survival of the Timneh African Grey, but also for the entire ecosystem they are a part of.

Conservation efforts are ongoing, but there’s still much work to be done to ensure these parrots have a safe and thriving environment.

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    Timneh African Greys are listed as endangered

    Diet and Nutrition

    Timneh African Grey parrots have a diverse diet in the wild, primarily feeding on fruits, nuts, and seeds. In the wild, they particularly relish the fruits of the African oil palm, a native tree to their habitat.

    In captivity, it’s essential to replicate this varied diet for optimal health. Pelleted diets are often recommended due to their balanced nutritional intake. However, relying solely on pellets isn’t ideal.

    Supplementing with fresh fruits and vegetables is crucial. Favorites among Timnehs include apples, bananas, and carrots. 

    It’s vital to ensure these are thoroughly washed to remove pesticides. Certain foods, like avocados and chocolate, are toxic to these birds and should be avoided.

    Nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, are excellent treats. They provide essential fats and mental stimulation as the birds crack them open. However, it’s essential to moderate their intake to prevent obesity.

    Lastly, always ensure Timnehs have access to fresh water. Clean water is vital for drinking and occasional bathing. Regularly checking their water dishes for cleanliness is a practice I’ve always emphasized.

    Luna, a Timneh Grey, eating a nasturtium. Source: Tfcallahan1, via Wikipedia

    Behavior and Social Tendencies

    Timneh African Greys are renowned for their intelligence and sociability. Having observed and interacted with these birds for years, I can attest to their remarkable cognitive abilities. 

    They’re not just mimics; they often display an understanding of the context in which words and phrases are used.

    In terms of social tendencies, Timnehs are generally more laid-back than their Congo counterparts. They tend to be less nervous and more adaptable to changing environments. 

    However, like all parrots, they require consistent social interaction. Neglecting this need can lead to behavioral issues like feather plucking or excessive screaming.

    Bonding is crucial for Timnehs. They often form strong attachments to their primary caregivers. This bond, once established, is profound and enduring.

    However, it’s essential to approach bonding with patience and understanding, especially if you’re aiming to build trust.

    It’s also worth noting that while Timnehs are social, they can be territorial, especially during breeding seasons. They might display aggressive tendencies, especially towards unfamiliar faces or other pets.

    Lastly, these birds are known for their playful nature. They’re curious and enjoy a variety of toys.

    Ensuring they have mentally stimulating toys can prevent boredom and associated behavioral issues. It’s essential to choose toys that cater to their intelligence and curiosity.

    Timnehs are generally more laid-back and less nervous around humans

    Vocalization and Intelligence

    The Timneh African Grey is renowned for its impressive vocal abilities. Among the avian world, they stand out as top mimics. They can imitate a wide range of sounds, from household noises to human speech. 

    But their vocal repertoire isn’t just mimicry. They use distinct calls and songs to communicate with their flock. These signals can indicate everything from contentment to alarm.

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      However, it’s their intelligence that truly sets the Timneh apart. These birds have cognitive abilities rivaling young children. They grasp concepts like shape, color, and even numbers. 

      Their problem-solving skills shine when they interact with toys or face challenges. Some Timnehs even understand the meaning behind words, not just parroting them.

      This blend of vocal skill and intellect keeps Timneh owners engaged. Regular mental and vocal stimulation is vital for these birds. Without it, they risk boredom and behavioral issues. 

      Providing puzzles, toys, and interaction is key to keeping their minds active.

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        Timnehs have cognitive abilities rivaling young children

        Breeding and Reproduction

        Breeding Timneh African Greys requires a deep understanding of their needs and behaviors. These birds reach sexual maturity around 3 to 5 years of age.

        When it comes to selecting a mate, they are monogamous and form strong bonds with their chosen partner. This bond often lasts for life.

        The breeding season typically starts in the dry season, aligning with optimal conditions for raising chicks. Females lay between 2 and 4 eggs in a clutch, which they incubate for about 30 days.

        During this period, the male plays a crucial role in guarding the nest and bringing food to the female.

        One fascinating aspect of Timneh breeding is the occasional interbreeding with Congo African Greys. While both species are distinct, they share overlapping regions, leading to rare hybrid offspring.

        However, these hybrids are uncommon in the wild and are more often seen in captivity due to intentional breeding practices.

        For those considering breeding these birds, it’s essential to provide a safe, comfortable environment. A spacious nesting box, a balanced diet, and regular health checks are crucial.

        Breeding these parrots is not a task for the inexperienced. It requires dedication, knowledge, and a commitment to the well-being of both the parent birds and their offspring.

        Timnehs are monogamous and form strong bonds with their chosen partner

        Pet Ownership and Care

        Owning a Timneh African Grey is a commitment that goes beyond basic care. As someone who’s been in the trenches with these birds, I can vouch for their unique requirements.

        Tips for Potential Owners

        Before diving into the world of Timnehs, it’s crucial to understand their nature. These aren’t your average pet birds. 

        Their intelligence and sensitivity mean they need consistent interaction and mental engagement.

        A potential owner should be prepared for a long-term commitment, as these birds can live for several decades.

        Cage Requirements

        The cage is your Timneh’s sanctuary. Size matters. For a bird of the Timneh’s activity level, a spacious cage is non-negotiable. 

        Ideally, it should be large enough for them to fly short distances. Remember, this is their primary living space. 

        As for specifics, a cage measuring around 36”W x 48”L x 48”H is a good starting point. Placement is equally vital.

        Keep the cage in a well-lit area, away from drafts and direct sunlight.

        Daily Care Routines

        Routine is key. Set feeding times, regular cage cleaning, and daily out-of-cage interactions should be the norm.

        Their diet should be varied, consisting of high-quality pellets, fresh fruits, and vegetables. And remember, some foods are toxic to them, like avocados and chocolate.

        Mental Stimulation and Enrichment

        Timnehs thrive on challenges. Their toys should cater to their intellectual needs.

        Puzzle toys, foraging toys, and toys that can be torn apart are excellent choices. Rotate these toys regularly to keep their environment fresh and stimulating. 

        Beyond toys, daily interactions, training sessions, and even simple conversations can provide the mental enrichment they crave.

        Timneh’s need a lot of mental stimulation and toys

        Conservation Status

        The Timneh African Grey Parrot, like its Congo counterpart, faces significant threats in the wild. Primarily, habitat loss due to deforestation and the illegal pet trade have placed immense pressure on their populations. 

        These birds are highly sought-after in the pet trade because of their intelligence and vocal abilities. As a result, many are captured from the wild and sold, leading to a decline in their natural numbers. 

        Additionally, the loss of their natural habitats further exacerbates the problem, as they lose their homes and sources of food. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Timneh African Grey as “Endangered.” 

        This status underscores the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent birds and their habitats.

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          Price and Purchase Considerations

          When considering the purchase of a Timneh African Grey, it’s essential to be aware of the costs involved. On average, these parrots can range from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on various factors. 

          The bird’s age, health, and whether it’s hand-raised can influence the price. Additionally, the breeder’s reputation and location play a role in determining the cost.

          However, adopting a Timneh is also a commendable option. Many parrots are rehomed during their lifetimes, and contrary to popular belief, rehomed birds can often be easier to tame and train

          It’s crucial to research and choose a reputable breeder or adoption agency that prioritizes the health and well-being of the birds. 

          Remember, the initial purchase or adoption fee is just the beginning; there will be ongoing costs for food, toys, vet care, and other necessities throughout the parrot’s life.

          TImnehs cost between $1,000 to $3,000 in the US

          Comparison with Congo African Greys

          Timneh African Greys and Congo African Greys are both highly sought-after parrots, but they exhibit distinct differences and similarities that potential owners should be aware of.

          In terms of appearance, Timnehs are generally smaller, with a darker charcoal gray plumage, while Congos boast a lighter silver-grey color. 

          Additionally, Timnehs have a bone-colored upper beak, contrasting with the black beak of the Congo. Both species, however, sport the iconic red tail, a signature trait of African Greys.

          Behaviorally, both parrots are known for their intelligence and ability to mimic sounds. However, some owners observe that Timnehs might be slightly more laid-back and less nervous than their Congo counterparts. 

          This isn’t a strict rule, as individual personalities can vary widely within each species.

          When it comes to care needs, both require a similar diet, mental stimulation, and social interaction.

          Yet, due to their size difference, Timnehs might be better suited for those with limited space, as they can comfortably live in slightly smaller cages compared to Congos.

          In conclusion, while both Timneh and Congo African Greys make wonderful companions, understanding their subtle differences can help potential owners make an informed decision tailored to their preferences and living situation.

          Frequently Asked Questions

          What is the behavior of African Grey parrot?

          African Grey parrots are highly intelligent and social birds. They form strong bonds with their owners, are known for their exceptional mimicking abilities, and require mental stimulation to stay engaged. Without proper interaction, they can become bored and develop behavioral issues.

          What is the proper diet for an African grey?

          African Greys thrive on a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and pellets. They also benefit from occasional protein sources like cooked lean meats and legumes. 
          Fresh water should always be available. Avoid avocados, chocolate, and caffeine, as they can be toxic to the bird.

          What is the personality of a Timneh parrot?

          Timneh parrots are known for their gentle and somewhat reserved nature. They are intelligent, affectionate, and bond closely with their owners. 
          While they are quieter than their Congo counterparts, they still possess impressive vocal abilities and can mimic sounds and speech.

          What is the personality of Timneh vs. Congo?

          Both Timneh and Congo African Greys are intelligent and affectionate. However, Timnehs tend to be gentler and more reserved, while Congos are more outgoing. 
          Timnehs are often quieter, but both species are skilled mimics. Personalities can vary among individual birds, but these are general tendencies.


          Understanding the Timneh African Grey is crucial for potential owners and bird enthusiasts alike.

          Their distinct personalities, care requirements, and subtle differences from their Congo counterparts make them a unique and rewarding companion. 

          Whether you’re considering bringing one into your home or simply wish to learn more about this fascinating species, we hope this guide has shed light on the captivating world of the Timneh African Grey parrot.

          Photo of author

          Team Beauty of Birds

          Beautyofbirds.com's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

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