Though the African Grey Timneh may not be as well known as the nominate form, commonly known as the African Grey Congo, the Timneh should not be overlooked.
These birds, like other parrots, require plenty of your time and attention, and can get quite cranky if they are not paid the attention and care they require. Both Congo African Greys and Timnehs are shy, cautious birds and can be temperamental. Timnehs are known for their good temperaments and are often said to be less cranky than their cousins. But with lots of attention, plenty of toys, and a proper cage, they can be welcomed additions to any parrot lover's household. Don't get a Timneh, though, if your only requirement is speech. Some of these birds never speak. (And birds do not imitate some people's voices.) Whistling and making the sounds of appliances (think Microwave oven), squeaking doors, doorbell chimes, telephone rings, and computer game sound effects are not beyond the reach of a Timneh. They can mimic just about any sound they hear. They have even been known to make a noise and respond to it; i.e., ring the phone and then say, "Hello," or even continue an entire one-sided conversation. They are, obviously, very bright pets with the intelligence of a 5 year old. But beware. They also have the emotions of a 2 year old. And, if you think elephants have good long-term memories, they are total pikers compared to this bird. They are very
loyal and will bond for life, which in their case can be up to 70 years. An African Grey Timneh will expect to be included in all activities, and will especially enjoy joining you for your evening meal, helping himself to bites off anyone's plate. Maybe even fighting you for his favorites. Didn't we say they are demanding! But don't let this pet eat from your mouth. Humans have an extraordinary amount of bacteria in their mouths. A Timneh should be given a wide variety of food, ranging from pellets and seed mixes to fresh fruits, vegetables, and table food. Your bird will certainly let you know his preferences, but you must take control. A Timneh will gorge on Sunflower seeds to the neglect of more nutritious offerings. Sunflower seeds are high in fat and should be limited. However, they do need extra calcium, as they are unable to store it in their bones. Oranges, collard and/or mustard greens, and cooked broccoli are excellent dietary supplements. Some toxic foods that should be avoided are avocados and chocolate. Also avoid salty foods and dairy products, as they are difficult for the bird to digest.
An African Grey Timneh is a smaller version of the African Grey Congo (nine to eleven inches from beak to tail). Their feathers are also darker and they sport a maroon tail, as opposed to the Congo's bright red tail. Their eyes start out being dark grey or black and lighten, as they age, to their final color of light yellow. Another distinguishing feature of the Timneh is its lighter beak color on the top. The Congo has an entirely black beak. African Grey Timnehs come from Central Africa, along with the Congo African Grey.