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).
The Congo African grey (Psittacus erithacus erithacus), also called the red-tailed grey and the CAG, and the Timneh African grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh), or TAG. Often the large Congo greys were “Cameroons” because they were once thought to be a subspecies from that area, but in truth, the larger birds were smuggled into Cameroon and had that country listed on their export papers.
These birds tend to come in a variety of sizes and shades of gray because their natural habitat is so large. However, the CAG, no matter the color or size, is still the same subspecies.
The CAG is more popular of the two subspecies, being larger and having a scarlet tail and black beak. The TAG is smaller with a much darker gray body, nearly black, with a horn-colored beak, and its tail ranges in color from maroon to dark gray or black. Both birds make equally fine companions.
African grey parrots are more likely to be available in avian-specialty stores or from a bird breeder. Greys are also sometimes available for adoption from bird rescue/adoption organizations.
Size And Color
Although many African gray parrots look almost identical, there are differences between the Congo and timneh parrots. Congo African gray parrots are larger than timneh. Congos can be up to 14 inches tall and weigh approximately 1 pound. The smaller timneh usually only grows 10 inches tall and weighs 6 ounces less than the Congo.
The two parrots have slight differences in color. The timneh is a dark, charcoal grey, while the Congo can range from dark to light grey. The timneh also has a pink upper beak, but the Congo has a solid black beak. The tail feathers of the Congo African gray are bright red, but the timneh has dark maroon tail feathers.
Both types of African gray parrots are intelligent, cautious birds. Dr. Irene Pepperberg from the University of Arizona estimated in 1995 study that they have the intelligence of a 5-year-old child and the temperament of a 2-year-old.
Both Congos and timnehs will bond with their human caregivers, but Congos generally only like one person at a time, while the timneh circle often extends to more members of the family.
Timneh African grays are often considered to be calmer and more even-tempered than their larger relatives. The timnehs mature quicker, have fewer anxiety issues and suffer less from nervous feather plucking. While Congo and timneh African grays can make fantastic pets with the right socialization and training, a timneh may be a better choice for a novice bird owner.
Both timneh and Congo African grays are generally great talkers. Since timnehs mature quicker, they will often begin using words and simple sentences at 6 months of age. Many Congos don’t start talking until after they are a year old.
Most Congos will mimic the voice of the person they are talking to. In contrast, most timnehs have their own voices, which has been compared to a munchkin from “The Wizard of Oz” movie or a small child.
The Congo and Timneh African Grey parrots are two different subspecies of the African Grey parrot. To make it more easier for new grey owners, here are some of the quick key differences between them:
Appearance: The Congo African Grey parrot is larger and has a lighter gray body color compared to the Timneh African Grey parrot, which is smaller and has a darker gray body color. The Timneh also has a darker maroon or charcoal-colored tail.
Personality: While both subspecies are known for their intelligence and ability to mimic speech, Congo African Greys tend to be more outgoing and vocal, while Timnehs can be quieter and more reserved. However, individual personalities can vary greatly within each subspecies.
Lifespan: African greys can live for several decades, and the Congo subspecies is known to have a slightly longer lifespan than the Timneh subspecies, with some living up to 70 years in captivity if looked after well.
Conservation status: The Congo African grey parrot is listed as endangered due to habitat loss and trapping for the pet trade, while the Timneh African Grey parrot is listed as vulnerable. Both subspecies are protected under international law and trade in wild-caught birds is illegal.
Overall, while both Congo and Timneh African Grey parrots share many similarities, there are some noticeable differences in their appearance, personality, lifespan, and conservation status.
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.
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 me know in the comments section below 🙂
If you found this blog helpful, It would be great if you could share it with your family and friends who might find it useful as well.
You might like to read:
Types of African Grey Parrots
African Grey Parrot Price & Owning Cost
The Surprising Benefits of Owning an African Grey Parrot
African Grey Parrot Male or Female? (Determine Gender of African Grey)
An Avocado Killed My African Grey Parrot
For more useful content about African Grey parrots, you can subscribe my site with your email to get notification upon publishing a new blog, the subscribe box you can see on the right side of this page. Also if you get an alert on your web browser while browsing my site, allow it and that will also give you an alert whenever I publish a new blog. 🙂
Stay safe and much love !
If you are interested in supporting me, kindly consider utilizing my affiliate link for your Amazon purchases. Your support would be greatly appreciated.