Rare hybrids are highly coveted in the avian world due to how hard it is to acquire and mate them.
One such rare species is African grey variants, sought after for their mimicry and intelligence. Given how hard it is to acquire African greys, such as the Congo and Timneh grey, we rarely see their offspring.
Congo and Timneh African greys can breed together, but it isn’t easy.
African greys are hard to keep happy in captivity, so it can take breeders years to unite a good, fertile pair. However, when a Congo and Timneh pair mate, they can produce healthy chicks.
Because this mix is so rare, few people know what a Congo-Timneh cross looks like or if it’s even possible.
Even parrots that look like a cross between the two may appear different due to regional differences. However, a cross is possible because Congo greys and Timneh greys are similar birds.
Can Timneh And Congo Breed?
Timneh African greys and Congo African greys can breed and produce healthy, fertile offspring because they’re genetically related enough that their offspring experience no health problems.
Because of this, a Congo-Timneh cross cannot be considered a hybrid.
A hybrid is the product of two different species. Due to the physical, biological, and genetic differences between the two species, any offspring are likely to be infertile and have health issues.
Congo African greys and Timneh African greys belong to the same family. They’re so similar that the Timneh was considered a sub-species of the Congo African grey until recently.
According to Molecular Ecology, enough differences were found that the two types of parrots were considered different species.
Can a Congo And Timneh Mate?
Congo African greys and Timneh African greys can mate. However, it’s difficult for them to do so in the wild and captivity.
A big part of this is due to where the two species reside geographically.
Congo African grey parrots (Psittacus Erithacus) are from Equatorial Africa, while Timneh African greys (Psittacus Timneh) are from West Africa.
These two species don’t breed in the wild, and avian experts theorize that the two species are from different parts of Africa.
There’s no need for a parrot to mate with a bird from a different species if there’s an entire flock of similar parrots to choose from.
Congo and Timneh greys are different enough to have alternative forms of vocalization.
Vocalization is an important part of mating for all parrot species. When parrots want to mate, they’ll imitate the vocalization of the parrots they’re interested in.
Different flocks have unique vocalizations. If a parrot from another flock wants to join a new one, it’ll be better received if it learns to mimic the flock’s vocalization patterns.
The Congo and Timneh African grey parrots began diverging over 2 million years ago. Their vocalization is different enough that the two species may have trouble communicating when they first meet.
It’s also difficult to breed African grey parrots because their conditions need to be optimal before they’re comfortable enough to mate.
African greys are hard to care for because they get stressed easily, especially if they had a challenging upbringing. Parrots don’t mate when stressed, so only experienced breeders can successfully crossbreed a Congo and Timneh offspring.
Besides comfort, it’s also difficult for breeders to get a hold of Congo greys and Timneh greys.
Poachers have decimated many parrot populations in different parts of the world. So, it’s rare to see a true Congo-Timneh cross in captivity.
What Does a Congo and Timneh Hybrid Look Like?
It’s difficult to say what a true Congo-Timneh cross looks like because there are so few of them.
Many variations can occur when crossbreeding, so it’s hard to determine which physical traits are definitive, as many could be unique to the individual bird.
The few records of Congo-Timneh crosses report that they tend to be smaller than the Congo-African grey. They’re said to have the same dark plumage as the Timneh’s, but others have reported offspring with light feathers, like the Congo.
Congo African greys have red tail feathers. Although some Congo-Timnehs are born with a bit of red in their tail, it isn’t known if the feathers change color once they grow older.
It’s difficult for parrot enthusiasts to find accurate information about authentic Congo-Timneh crosses, not least because many breeders will acquire African grey crosses and hybrids that look like the traditional variants or get confused for another kind of variant.
There’s a lot of crossbreeding in the parrot breeding industry, and not all of it is reported.
Difference Between Congo and Timneh African Grey
There are many differences between a Congo grey and a Timneh grey due to their:
Congo and Timneh African greys are from the same parrot family, so they were considered the same species for decades.
However, enough variation was found that people now understand that there are differences between the two types of parrots:
|Parrot||Timneh African Grey||Congo African Grey|
|Average Weight:||9.7-13.2 ounces||13.4-20 ounces|
|Average Length:||11-13 inches||12-16 inches|
|Average Lifespan (in captivity):||30-50 years||30-60 years|
|Reaches Maturity:||3 years old||4 to 5 years old|
|Temperament:||Calm, moderate trainability||Stressed, difficult to train|
Congo African greys have black beaks and light grey plumage. Their feathers stick out more, making them look fluffier than Timnehs.
They’re larger, heavier, and have distinct red tail feathers. Their beaks appear smaller than Timneh’s, but this is only because their bodies are much larger.
Timneh African greys have a light-colored upper beak, and their plumage is a darker shade of grey, including their tail. Their dark feathers are tightly pressed against their body, making them look sleek.
Because they’re small, their beaks appear large despite being nearly the same size as a Congo’s beak.
Intelligence, Personality, and Trainability
Both species are considered on the same intelligence level. They can learn many words and are among the most skilled parrots in mimicking sounds.
Timneh African grey parrots tend to speak earlier than Congo greys and prefer making their own sounds over mimicking words. That said, Timnehs can still be trained to speak.
Congo African greys are difficult to care for because they’re easily stressed and prone to anxiety. It’s difficult to get them accustomed to other people unless they’re socialized correctly, and they tend to bond with one person at a time.
Because of this, Congo African greys aren’t the most suitable parrots for most families, especially those with small children. Avian experts don’t recommend these birds for first-time owners because caring for them is like caring for a perpetual toddler.
Timneh African greys are more emotionally stable than Congo’s because they mature faster. Despite this, Timnehs can be just as difficult to care for as Congo’s due to how much attention they need.
Congo and Timneh African greys can breed. However, it’s rare and difficult to achieve, so there’s still mystery surrounding them.