Comparing The Congo and Timneh African Grey Parrots

African Greys are often viewed as one of the most intelligent species of parrots in the world. With minimal training, owners can teach them a wide variety of words and phrases.

It's little-known fact, however, that there actually two different subspecies of African Greys: the Congo African grey (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) and Timneh African grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh).

Although they share some similarities, the Congo and Timneh African Grey are two different subspecies with their own unique characteristics.

If you're thinking about adopting an African grey, you should familiarize yourself with the differences between the Congo and Timneh. Congos have long been a favorite among seasoned bird handlers and lovers; however, the more docile nature of the Timneh parrot makes them a preferred choice among first-time parrot owners and families.

It's important to note that each and every African grey parrot will possess its own unique personality. Don't assume that all Congo or Timneh parrots will exhibit the same behavior, because this simply isn't true. Parrots develop their own characteristics as they grow and develop.

The Congo African Grey can be found in Kenya, Tanzania and Southeastern Ivory Coast. They are also generally more abundant as household pets in contrary to the Timneh African Greys.

Congo African Greys are slightly taller than the Timneh African Grey with a beak-to-tail length of 13 to 16 inches and also possessing a solid black beak. With an average lifespan of 40 to 50 years, they possess a high level of energy and are more highly intelligent with a fun-loving personality. Congo African Greys are heavier than that of the Timneh African grey, with an average adult weight of 400 to 500 grams. Feather wise, they possess a bright fiery red to orange tail color, making them known as the “Red-tailed Grey”.

Generally, Congo African Greys start to utter one to two words at six months but they fully develop stringing words and chatter until after their first birthday.

However, Congo African Greys are known to be the more talented one as they do not only imitate words but they also have the capability imitate voices. They are also known to decide when to change their human bonds, making it a little heartbreaking for caregivers who have grown to love their Congo African Greys.

The Timneh African Grey:

The Timneh African Grey can be found through Southern Guinea and on the western edge of the Ivory Coast along the smaller regions. These kinds of African Greys tend to be more relaxed and generally can start putting words together even at a younger age. They can start uttering words as early as approximately six months, also six months sooner compared to Congo African Greys, with no variety in its voice.

Timneh African Greys have an average lifespan of 40 to 50 years and also possess a highly intelligent and fun-loving personality, same as that of the Congo African Grey. However, they are more docile with an easy-going nature.

Timneh African Greys weigh slightly less at only 275 to 375 grams. They also have a slightly darker beak than its counterpart, the Congo African Grey, with a horn colored upper beak and smoky colored bottom beak.

Feather wise, a Timneh African Grey possesses darker, maroon colored tail feathers. Baby Timneh African Greys colors can be dark gray with no hint of maroon but they are typically maroon-brown. These subspecies are known to be more laid back and are less prone to pluck or become phobic in comparison to Congo African Greys. Timneh African Greys are also capable of adding multiple human bonds during its development even at various times.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are subtle nuances between the Congo and Timneh African grey, including their size, coloring and disposition. However, these differences are minor at best and won't play a significant role in their overall behavior.

When choosing a parrot species to adopt, consider their needs and whether or not your home is a suitable fit. We've discussed in a previous article how to transition your parrot to a new cage or a new home.

African greys -- both the Congo and Timneh -- are intelligent, fun-loving animals that crave their owner's attention. Make sure you are willing to invest both your time and energy into providing a healthy, stimulating environment for your parrot.

Far too many individuals make the hasty decision to adopt a parrot without taking into account the unique needs of the respective species and how long their parrot can live.

Do you prefer the Congo or Timneh African grey? Let us know in the comments section below!


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16 comments

  • It seems a lot harder to find breeders of Timnehs than Congos. Even harder as Im in New Zealand any suggestions or help would very much be appreciated.

    Chris Harris on
  • I have a Timneh I visited her at the bird store almost everyday since she was weeks old. She started talking when she was 4 months old “whatcha doing?” She sounds like a chipmunk. She is only 6 months old. I love her disposition! She squawks when I disappear to the bathroom or kitchen so a lot of time I take her with me. This article was very informative because I was second guessing my choice of a Timneh or Congo. I made the right decision for me.

    Michelle on
  • We have an 11 yr old Timneh named “Walter”. We’ve had him for a year and he is AWESOME!! He talks up a storm and sounds exactly like me!! It’s really funny! He fits right into our family with our cockatiel and our parrotlet!!!!

    Paula on
  • I have 3 congo african greys an 1 timneh. None of the c.a.g can speak up to 4 words but the timneh speaks aproximativley 200 and you feel like he knows whats his saying. He never mixes setences and he heard my name from family and keeps calling me whenever he hears my voice.
    Personaly i prefer timneh cz of their caracter and cz THEY DONT FEATHER PLUCK. My congo greys did not also.

    Jango on
  • I took in a Congo who us blind and was severely neglected. Sadly our first interactions where vet and beak trimming. He is difficult due to his visual disability….any ideas how i can work with him to trust again? He hasnt been out if his cage in years but being blind makes any change frightening to him.

    Claudia Mattheiss on

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