African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) are made up of two distinct subspecies, which are Timneh African greys (Psittacus erithacus timneh) and Congo African greys (Psittacus erithacus erithacus). Although both subspecies might look the same upon quick inspection, there are some key differences to remember. African greys in general are often celebrated for their conversational talents -- and vocals that are eerily human-like.
Congo African greys are bigger than their Timneh counterparts. Congo African greys usually grow to lengths of 14 to 16 inches, while Timneh African greys are generally somewhere between 9 and 11 inches long. Congos usually weigh in the ballpark of 12 to 23 ounces, while Timnehs tend to be somewhere between 9 and 13 ounces.
One conspicuous and hard-to-miss physical difference also exists between the two subspecies, and that's the Congo's intensely crimson tail. The Timneh greys' tails are slightly more muted in color, with brownish-red elements. Both subspecies have gray feathers, but the Timnehs' plumage is a tad darker.
Temperament-wise, Timneh African greys are often considered to be the more relaxed, steadfast and consistent of the two types, because they attain maturity at quicker rates. However, this in no way means Congo African greys cannot have similarly unwavering and calm dispositions, especially if their owners provide them with sufficient care and attention. When it comes to speech, the subspecies' abilities seem to have no major difference. Timnehs, however, generally start putting words together at younger ages.
It isn't an inherent difference between the two groups of the species, but Congo African greys are much more abundant as household pets. Timnehs, however, are rapidly gaining fans in the pet world, too. On the whole, African greys are up there with the planet's most widespread pet birds, indicates Animal Diversity Web of the University of Michigan.
Timneh and Congo African greys both come from Africa, though their geographic haunting grounds, while close, aren't exactly the same. Congo African greys are found in regions from Cote d'Ivoire to Kenya, while Timneh African greys have a tinier scope, from Cote d'Ivoire over to Liberia and Guinea Bissau.
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Psittacus erithacus
- BirdChannel.com: Congo African Grey Birds
- BirdChannel.com: Timneh African Grey Birds
- BirdChannel.com: What's The Difference Between Congo African Greys & Timneh African Greys?
- BirdChannel.com: African Grey Birds
- World Parrot Trust: Grey Parrot
- WAZA: African Grey Parrot
- Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images