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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 Newsguy.com

Teaching Your Bird to Talk

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Last modified: November, 2007