Psittacus timneh - Timneh Parrot

The Timneh Parrot – Psittacus timneh (Fraser, 1844) – is not as common as a pet as the larger Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus). Both are exceptional good talkers – they can learn to mimic sounds, words and sentences.

For the untrained eye they may look similar but they are easy to distinguish:

  • The Gray Parrot has a bright red tail and a light gray plumage. It’s about the size of an Amazon parrot and thus significantly larger than the Timneh Parrot.
  • The Timneh Parrot has a small reddish-brown tail which is easy to distinguish from the bright red tail of the Gray Parrot. Also the Timney Parrot is much smaller in size and the plumage has a darker grey color (sort of like slate grey) on head, back, wings and chest.

When kept as a single pet parrot, a Timney Parrot often connects to the owner and is reserved towards all others.

They require a lot of attention and training – if they do not get enough attention, it can result in mental problems such as feather picking. If you get an offer to buy a “used” bird make sure to check thoroughly if the bird seems to be OK or maybe have physical or mental problems due to neglect or improper care.

Imported birds are often shy and it requires a good deal of patience to make them tame. I recommend buying from a local breeder where you can check out the surroundings where it was born and raised and verify that all the birds seem to be in good health.

According to the IUCN Red List the Grey Parrot is Endangered because of ongoing habitat loss and capture of wild birds for international trade. It is currently included on CITES Appendix II with most other parrot species; however it has been proposed to move it to Appendix I like the Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus). 


Slate grey head, back, wings and check. The tail is short and with a reddish-brownish color.

The feathers on the head and nape is edged with a white or light-grey edge resulting in a scaly pattern. The gump is light grey.

The young birds have dark grey iris whereas the older birds have pale yellow irises.

The male is usually slightly larger than the female, otherwise there is no visible gender difference.

Size: 32 – 40 cm
Weight: 270 – 350 grams


Two subspecies are recognized:

  • Psittacus timneh timneh (Fraser, 1844) : Nominate form – see description above.
  • Psittacus timneh princeps (Alexander, 1909)

Previously both the Timneh Parrot and the Príncipe Island subspecies were considered  subspecies to the Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus. However recent studies proved that the Timneh Parrot is actually a distinct taxa. The Pricipe Island subspecies is closer related to the Timney Parrot than the Grey Parrot and is now considered a subspecies of Psittacus timneh.



  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Psittacus


  • Danish: Brunhalet Gråpapegøje, Brunhalet Grå Jaco
  • English: Timneh Parrot, Gray Parrot (Timneh), Sierra Leone Gray Parrot, Sierra Leone Grey Parrot
  • French: Perroquet timneh
  • German: Timnehgraupapagei
  • Portuguese:
  • Spanish: Loro timneh
  • Scientific: Psittacus timneh, Psittacus princeps

IUCN Red List

BirdLife International 2019. Psittacus timneh. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T22736498A155462561.
Downloaded on 9 July 2021

Notice the dark eyes on this juvenile Timneh Parrot.


The Timneh Parrot is native to Africa; the subspecies P.t. princeps is endemic to Príncipe Island.

  • Psittacus timneh timneh  : Southern Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali and western Ivory Coast.
  • Psittacus timneh princeps : Endemic to Príncipe Island in the Gulf of Guinea.

They are found in primary and secondary rainforest, gallery forest, forest edges and clearings, mangroves, savanna and also in cultivated land.


I recommend using ZuPreem pellets as the main part of the diet – about 60-75% of the diet. These pellets contain all the important minerals and vitamins the birds need and at the same time have a low fat content. Supplement with vegetables, fruit and a small amount of nuts and seeds. Peas in pods can be recommended as it is both healthy and a fun pastime when the birds have to get the peas out of the pods.

Suggested nuts and seeds: Sunflower, corn, oats, wheat, millet, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts.

Avoid peanuts as there is a high risk of them being infected with fungus!

Sprouted seeds are highly recommended especially during the breeding season.


Several birds can be successfully held in heavily built aviary. Birds kept in an aviary can also become tame and confidential.

After acclimatization the birds are not sensitive to low temperatures and can withstand short periods of light frost.

The Timney Parrot is not as common among breeders as the Grey Parrot but still has been successfully breed several times. However it may be difficult to find sympathetic couples. 

The next box should be approx. 60 cm high and with an entrance hole of approx. 10 cm. The bottom should be 25 x 25 cm. You can use a hollowed log with a bottom layer of dry turf with the earth side upwards. 

The hen lays 2-4 white eggs. The incubation time is approx. 30 days. The chicks leave the nest after about 10 week.


All photos on this page is my own “Jaco”. She has been an important part of our family since she was born in 1999. She is very skilled at imitating sounds (incl. whistling a few songs) and short sentences. Often I hear my cell phone ringing in my office, but when I pick it up no one is calling – but Jaco is having great fun pranking me! 🙂

Not only does she have a large vocabulary – she also know how to put context to these words. Some examples (she speaks Danish and a little Russian but I have translated it to English here):

  • Whenever I make some food in the kitchen she immediately starts begging: “Please, let me have some“, “Can I taste it?“. She repeats this a few times – if that doesn’t get my attention she escalates the begging to “Oohhh, I love you!” and I then have to give in. 🙂
  • When she hear me putting on my shoes and getting ready to leave the house and drive to work she calls “Goodbye – see you“.
  • When I am preparing to go to bed and turn off the lights in the house, she tell me “Goodnight – sleep well“. 
  • And when watching a comedy on Netflix it is hard to tell if it is my wife or Jaco laughing along.

Among her favorite food is banana, which she eats very fast – almost like she is afraid someone will come and steal it from her. She also love corn and peas – especially pea pods as that gives her a little work getting the peas out from the pod. She also like juice from grapes – she bites a small hole and then use her tongue to drink the juice from the grape – the rest she throws away.

She is very curious and love to poke around on my desk, in all my drawers and also the kitchen cupboard, so I have to be careful and watch her as she also like to “examine” (read: “destroy”) stuff with her strong beak.