Eager to start your parrot talking?

People all over the world are amused when they hear a parrot talking. Whether on holiday, at the zoo or visiting a parrot owner, we can enjoy the feeling of communicating with these beautiful, intelligent creatures.  We love hearing their clever mimicry and sometimes cheeky outbursts.

Perhaps hearing a parrot talking has persuaded you to become a parrot owner.  But getting your parrot to talk is not something that comes naturally. All too frequently people buy a parrot or parakeet with the expectation it will soon be talking when they get it home.  Some birds even end up in a parrot refuge because their owner became bored with them not talking.

Parrots are naturally social. Talking is simply an alternative means of socialising with humans. (You may not appreciate the screeching that sometimes occurs). If they can communicate without words, why the need to talk? Teaching a parrot to talk is about linking pleasant experiences and positive events with word sounds. Randomly trying to teach your bird words you think are amusing is not very easy – and in most cases doesn’t work.

Budgies, particularly males, are very vocal birds and respond well to communication from their owners but those that “talk” often lack clarity in copying human speech and only a well trained ear can tell what they are saying.

African Greys are very popular because they are considered one of the best talkers.  Many have the uncanny ability to speak with a very human sounding voice. Some are so good at mimicry that people are often tricked by them.

Most other medium and large parrots can be trained to talk but are unable to copy the human voice and retain the distinct parrot squawking sound.

How can I get my parrot to talk?

Talking is about communicating and teaching a parrot to talk has a lot of similarities to how we learnt to speak as a child.  The main thing to note is that the younger the bird is, the easier it will be to teach.

Think about how a child learns to talk – they hear you say things in relation to what you are doing.  Using simple and consistent language, you can help them associate the words with the action. Repetition and patience is the art of teaching your parrot to talk.

6 simple steps to get you started

  1. Tell your new parrot everything. Treat it like your child and explain to it what you are doing or where you are going. This will help it become more comfortable around you and encourage the parrot to talk back.
  2. Keep your parrot’s cage or perch in the television room or kitchen of your home. The more conversations and words they hear, the more likely they will try to copy those words and join the conversation.
  3. Avoid teaching them how to whistle before they learn how to talk. Sometimes when a parrot learns how to whistle, it’s more challenging for them to learn how to say words.
  4. Speak clearly and sometimes hold the bird near your mouth. This will enable the parrot to see how you are forming the words and making the sound that they are hearing.
  5. Use simple association with everyday objects. For example, show them their food and say “food” then use that word in a few sentences. Do the same thing for their toys or other objects.
  6. Keep your parrot training to no more than 15 minutes a day. If you try to teach them for a longer period of time, you will bore them and it will become frustrating for you and the bird.

Remember, every time you walk into the room, bring them food, clean their cage, turn on the TV, walk out the door…associate a phrase with that activity. This is the best way to get your parrot talking with you in your own language!

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