Timneh African Grey – Profile & Care Guide

Common name Timneh African Grey, TAG
Scientific namePsittacus timneh
Length30.5 cm/12 inches
Weight237-275 grams
Lifespan40 years or more
RangeWestern parts of the upper Guinea forests and the bordering savannahs
of West Africa from Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Southern Mali
Noise levelModerate


Timneh African Grey Care Guide Natural Habitat Parrot Profile Parrot Essentials

As its name suggests, the Timneh African Grey naturally inhabits the continent of Africa. Specifically, populations exist in parts of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, the islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, and most of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In its natural habitat, this species is mostly found in dense tropical forests, making it relatively elusive. This being said, it can also be spotted at forest edges, savannahs dotted with trees, and even occasionally closer to human civilization.

Unfortunately, as of its last assessment, the IUCN Red List considers the Timneh African Grey to be an Endangered species. It notes heavy pressure on the population from habitat loss and – despite it being illegal – trapping for the pet trade. Their numbers are thought to be on a heavy decline.


Timneh African Greys are extremely intelligent birds with an exceptional capacity for continuing to learn throughout their lives. Typically shy and introverted as adults, they usually form a close bond with a single person and can be more distant towards others.

This parrot species is among the most routine-oriented and keenly observant of their species. They can respond negatively to even minor changes in their environment, like when you move the toys in their cage around. It’s important to spend time desensitizing your Timneh African Grey to new things to prevent unnecessary stress.

As empathetic and emotional creatures, they possess unique personalities, but it’s important to keep in mind that they can also be very demanding of their owner’s time and attention.


Timneh African Greys have the ability to be exceptional talkers and mimics, probably the best of all parrots. They can learn to precisely replicate sounds from around the household, like the ring of a telephone or the beep of a microwave.

The species’ imitation of human voices can be so accurate that sometimes, you might even recognise the individual they’re imitating. They can develop huge vocabularies containing hundreds of words and sounds. Their talking ability is almost as good as the Congo African Grey Parrot. Research suggests they may even be able to use words in context, suggesting they actually understand what they’re saying in some cases.


In their natural habitat, Timneh African Greys forage in the treetops for seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries. In captivity, their diet can include a mix of high-quality parrot pellets, sprouts, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and more. Variety is the key to a happy and healthy bird!

It’s important to keep in mind that while seeds are the traditional choice, and they do offer some nutritional benefits, they are high in fat and lack (micro)nutrients. This particularly applies to sunflower seeds, which should never be a large component of their diet. You can use them as training treats instead.

These parrots are somewhat prone to calcium deficiencies, so it’s a good idea to have their calcium levels checked during annual vet visits. Calcium supplements may come in handy but should only be administered under the guidance of an avian vet.

Incorporating calcium-rich foods like leafy green vegetables—kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and spinach—can be beneficial for your Timneh African Grey.

Fresh, clean water should be readily available, preferably from multiple sources. You should clean their food and water dishes daily.


The absolute minimum dimensions for a Timneh African Grey cage are around 90 cm x 60 cm x 120 cm tall. It’s important to remember that when it comes to parrot cages, bigger is almost always better. If you’re planning on your bird spending most of its time in its cage, a full-sized aviary is a better choice.

The spacing between the cage bars should be approximately 2 cm. Your African Grey will appreciate it if the cage has some horizontal bars, as parrots love to climb. The cage’s location also matters: you should place it in a social but not overly hectic part of the house. Keep it away from direct sunlight, draughts, heating vents, or air conditioning ducts.

Inside the cage, a variety of perches of different sizes and materials should be available. This can include specialized perches for beak and nail trimming, as well as popular options like Java multi-branches. Straight plastic or dowel perches aren’t suitable, as they can cause deformities in your parrot’s feet in the long run. Go for natural wood!

It’s important to offer a selection of suitable toys for your Timneh African Grey to chew, preen, ring, and destroy. Foraging toys, which encourage your bird to use its smart brain to access treats, are a particularly good option. Occasionally rotate toys to keep them fresh. Make sure to remove any that become a safety hazard due to excessive damage.

Finally, it’s important to plan for your Timneh to spend a significant amount of time outside the cage daily for socialisation and exercise. These highly social birds need to spend multiple hours a day with their owners. Giving them the opportunity to explore a parrot-safe room helps prevent the common issues of boredom and obesity.


Timneh African Greys, like their Congo African Grey relatives, have a reputation for being prone to feather plucking. In more severe cases, they may even resort to other forms of self-mutilation, such as picking at their skin.

Feather plucking behaviour can be attributed to various factors, both physical and psychological. It often occurs if the bird’s emotional needs are unfulfilled or if it’s experiencing stress. As mentioned, they don’t deal very well with changes to their routine, and they become bored easily. If you can’t spend the majority of your day hanging out with your bird, it may be better to choose a different parrot species.

Timneh African Grey Feather Plucking


  • Timneh and Congo African Grey parrots are very similar at first glance, but there are ways to tell them apart. For example, TAGs have a horn-colored beak and maroon tail. CAGs have black beaks and brighter red tail feathers.
  • Scientists considered The Timneh African to be a subspecies of the Congo African Grey. It was granted full species status in 2012.
  • African Grey parrots can live a very long time (40-50+ years). If you’re considering adding one to your family, you need to be absolutely sure you’re able to commit for decades to come.
  • In an attempt to protect the vulnerable wild population, some regions actually have people guard Timneh African Grey nests to prevent poaching.
  • Like most other parrot species, Timneh parrots nest in hollow trees.
  • There are two subspecies of Timney African Grey Parrot: Psittacus


Although the vivid scarlet tail and renowned talking skills of the more commonly kept Congo African Grey often steal the spotlight, the Timneh African Grey is just as unique. They’re exceptional birds in their own right, capable of impressive speech. They can make excellent companions for someone willing to dedicate the time and effort required.

Both species of African grey have unique qualities that make them wonderful pets, so the Timneh is definitely worth considering.

To view other Parrot Profiles & Care Guides, visit our Alphabetical list of Parrot Fact Sheets by visiting https://blog.parrotessentials.co.uk/parrot-profiles-care-guides/

Atoussi, S., Bergin, D., Razkallah, I., Nijman, V., Bara, M., Bouslama, Z., & Houhamdi, M. (2020). The trade in the endangered African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus and the Timneh Parrot Psittacus timneh in Algeria. Ostrich, 91(3), 214-220.

Jayson, S. L., Williams, D. L., & Wood, J. L. (2014). Prevalence and risk factors of feather plucking in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus erithacus and Psittacus erithacus timneh) and cockatoos (Cacatua spp.). Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 23(3), 250-257.

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