Breeder's of Eclectus Parrots,
Timneh African Grey, Great Billed
Parrot, Cape Parrot
Will Your Parrot Talk? Maybe
By Nicole Jones
Some species of parrots are more prone to talking than others, but
there are no guarantees that a baby parrot will talk. Most companion
birds will eventually learn a couple of words, or at least particular
sounds that mean something to both of you. The only way to be sure of a
talking bird, is to purchase a bird that already does.
Most of my birds talk a bit; a few can't shut up. I've always said that
everyone wants a bird that will talk, until they have one. Then they
want a bird that can be quiet for 2 minutes!
The best way to get your parrot to talk, is to talk to him. Talk to him
a lot, associate actions with words. When you uncover the cage in the
morning, say "good morning", or some other phrase. Always use
the same phrase though. When you give your bird a peanut, say the word
peanut. The key is to be consistent. Keep it simple. Don't try to teach
him a long phrase, start with one or two words.
Don't bother with those recorded CDs and tapes you can purchase and run
while you are not home probably won't work. If you heard the same words,
over and over all day long, would you tune it out? Of course you would,
and so will your parrot. If you feel you must have some stimulation for
your bird while you are out at work all day, turn on the TV to a
children's station. Sesame Street can be quite entertaining for parrots.
Most people think African Greys are the best talkers. While they are
usually quite good, they are not the best however. The world record
holder for vocabulary is a Budgie. Amazons, Macaws, Eclectus and
Conures are all fairly good at talking as well, though the larger
conures usually do better than the smaller ones. Cockatoos aren't
bad talkers either, as are most types of Parakeets. Pionus, Poicephalus,
and Parrotlets usually don't talk very much; of course there will be a
few exceptional talkers within these species. Even Lovebirds can talk,
though few do.
No matter what species of parrot you have, no matter what that species'
track record is for talking, the only part of the equation that matters
is you and your bird. If your parrot shows a big interest in sounds and
words, and you encourage him, he'll probably speak.
Remember that consistency is the key. Talk to your parrot all the time,
using the same words and phrases. Use a higher pitched voice if
possible, they seem to prefer that. Parrots more often imitate a female
voice than a male voice.
Most parrots will practice when they are alone, before speaking their
new words in front of you. Listen closely when your parrot doesn't
realize you are within range, he may be muttering and trying out his new
words and sounds quietly to himself. I've found most birds do this until
they are confident that the word is right. If your bird is doing this,
chances are he will be talking to you very soon.
By Nicole Jones, 1999. This article appeared in
Your Bird to Talk
the Talking Bird