Difference Between Congo & Timneh African Grey Parrot

Difference Between Congo & Timneh African Grey Parrot
Muzaffar Naeemi

Physical diff between Congo & Timneh:

Timneh African Grey is a smaller version of Congo African Grey. Some people are of the view that in a beauty contest between Timneh (TAG) and Congo (CAG), there would surely be two winners. But I have a different view. As far as beauty and looks are concerned, the Congo Grey Parrots are much ahead of their cousins. No doubt that Timnehs is at the same footing when pet potential and talking ability is in issue, infect they are keener to interact with guests and are more playful and affectionate and less shy as compared to Congo Grey. But particularly talking about beauty, I think Congos have got the edge.


Timneh Grey Parrots have smoky colored beak on the bottom, and a horn colored upper beak. Congos have a solid black beak.


Both Congo and Timneh have black eyes until the age of 6 months, and after this time a gradual change in eye color begins including gradations of light grey and yellow. The eye colour of the adult grey is light yellow iris. The eye area of both the species is of bare white skin.


Congo Grey Parrots are larger than Timnehs. The Congos vary in size from 12-14 inch from beak to tail. Timneh Grey Parrots vary in size from 9-11 inch from beak to tail, depending on the frame of each bird.


Diet is a great factor considering the weight of the Grey Parrots. Normally Captive Parrots have more weight than parrots in wild, as they can have ample food and balanced diet. Congo Grey Parrots vary in weight between 400-650 grams depending on diet of individual bird. Timneh vary in weight between 275-400 grams.


The Congo Grey Parrots have shades of light grey on their bodies. Their head and neck feathers are delicately edged with white-grey, giving them a lovely and sophisticated look. They have a solid black beak and a beautiful bright red tail. These birds are also known as “Red-Tailed Grey”

The Timneh African Grey Parrots have deeper shades of dark charcoal –gray color on its wings and back. The have the same brushed white feathers on their head and neck. Timnehs have a dull maroon to burgundy colored tail.  The baby’s tail feathers are typically maroon-brown but can be dark grey with no hint of maroon. They have smoky colored beak on the bottom, and a horn colored upper beak.


Both Congo and Timneh have black feet. Congo Grey Parrots have a very dignified walk, often take small steps, on the other hand Timneh Grey Parrots normally scoot (walk quickly).

Temperamental difference between Congo and Timneh:

There is always a debate over the topic that whether there are temperamental differences between the Congo Grey Parrots and Timneh Grey Parrots. Both Congo and Timneh are shy, cautious birds and can be temperamental. The Timnehs are known for their good temperaments and are often said to be less shy than their larger cousins. But this can not be said to be a fact . There is always a lot of individual variation between the African Grey Parrots of both sub-species. I personally have a Congo Grey Parrot who loves to be a part of family conversation and loves to talk in front of guests, and fears very little in life, on the other hand my 4 years old Timneh Grey Parrot has never spoken a single word in front of guests and is always quiet contended to sit in its cage while strangers are around him.


As far as intelligence is in issue, both the subspecies are equally intelligent and require a lot of attention from their owners and they usually have a close bond with their caretaker. So if you are planning to own African Grey Parrot of either specie, you must be ready to give quality interaction time for everyday of its 50-65 year lifespan.

Today we can see many African Grey Parrots who are bigger and larger in size than normal. This is most likely the result of improved nutrition practices.

Talking Ability:

While talking about talking ability of African Grey Parrots, both the subspecies have the potential to speak and inmitate human voices and other household sounds, like telephone ring, microwave oven beeps, door bell etc. Both (Congo and Timneh) can imitate hundreds of human voices and can use then in context. So as far as the vocabulary is concerned both the species are on the same footing, the only difference is the quality of voice.

The Timneh does not have variety in its voice. Whatever it speaks it will be in the same childlike voice. In other words you can say that Timneh can imitate “words” but not the voices. But on the other hand, Congo is much talented one. It not only imitates the words, but has the capacity to imitate the voice as well. So you will see Congo saying a single word “Hello” in different voices i.e of a woman, a child or a mature old man.

Congo Grey Parrots and Timneh Grey Parrots appear to have the same talking ability, with the Congo voice slightly louder than Timnehs, as it could be expected from a larger parrot.

Congo African Grey Parrots usually do not start speaking its first word until its first birthday, many may start speaking even earlier than that,  depending on individual bird. On the other hand Timneh generally start talking at the age of 6 months and can string words together at the age of one and half year.

So the Timneh Grey Parrots can start speaking at the age of 6 months, a full six months sooner than the Congo Greys. I personally had a Timneh Grey Parrot named as “Timi”, who started to say “Hello” at the age of exact 4 months.

Human Bonds:

As far as our African Grey Parrots are concerned, we socialize them very well. And most of them can happily go to any person, as by regular interaction and affection this thing has been inculcated in their minds that humans are their best friend. However according to some experts There is some difference between CAG’s and TAG’s , switching bonds from one human being to another.

A recent survey shows that Congo Grey Parrots have a reputation of changing their human bonds from one person or caretaker to any other family member. And Male Congo Grey Parrots are more known for changing human bonds as compared to Female Congo Grey.

A very few of the Timneh Grey Parrots are reported to change their bond from one human being to another, they often add other members of the family into a multiple bond. But the results of these surveys show mere “trends” and can not be considered as “Proven Facts”.

Timneh African Grey Parrot are typically a more difficult bird to raise, and many owners have a hard time with them. But once they are trained and tamed, they can become our best friend for the whole of their life.

Feather Plucking:

It is a fact that African Grey Parrots are notorious feather pluckers. Although many other parrots also pluck their feathers but African Grey Parrots are more known for it.

More Congo Grey Parrots are reported to be prone to feather plucking than their smaller cousins. Timnehs have not much tendency to pluck or bite their feathers. It might be because of the reason that Timneh have a more stable personality than Congo.


Timneh have a lifespan of 40-60 years. They reach sexual maturity around 4-5 years of age. They can breed twice a year if their first clutch is wasted, but usually they breed once a year, but all this depends upon each pair and their compatibility. They lay 2-5 eggs with the interval of a day or two between each egg. The babies are hatched after 28-30 days, and become independent at 12-14 weeks.

Congos have a lifespan of around 60-70 years. They reach sexual maturity at about 5-6 yerars of age, in wild they normally breed once in a year but can breed twice. The hen may lay 5 eggs which will be incubated for 28-30 days.

Both subspecies lay eggs in high tree opening above the ground. The responsibility of the male is to feed the female, and both (male and female) feed the chicks.


To conclude I can say that both the subspecies (Congo and Timneh) have the same stable personalities. However there may be some small differences in their temperament which can be justified by the fact that there is a very different natural upbringing between the two subspecies.

It can not be deducted that only Congos have nervous energy, feather plucking depends upon many factors.


About the Author:
The author is a seasoned African Gray enthusiast and breeder. He has almost 16 years experience of breeding, keeping and training African Gray Parrots. He participates in related seminars and shows and encourage new and young people towards African Gray parrots. If you have any query related to any aspect of African Gray Parrots you can contact the author on following number.
Muzaffar Naeemi: 03002334089

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