by Shelly Lane
One characteristic of parrots that attracts people to them is their ability to talk. Do all parrots learn to talk? When will my parrot start talking? How can I help my bird learn new words? What if my bird doesn’t learn to talk? This article provides answers to these questions.
One question that I receive in emails quite often is how soon will my parrot start to talk. I am most familiar with Quaker Parrots, but I think it is much the same with all species. The answer is – it just depends on the bird.
Some start to talk before they are weaned while others take longer. Some parrots never learn to talk, and others become “closet talkers” – they only talk when people are not around. Many owners have discovered that they have a closet talker by leaving a tape recorder running while they are gone. When they listen to the tape later, they are sometimes astounded by the many words and phrases the bird has learned to say.
I’ve found that Budgies and Cockatiels learn well by repetition. That is, hearing the phrase you’d like them to learn over and over again. Most other parrots seem to learn best just by hearing their human’s normal conversation. Of course, this means that the more you talk to and around your bird, the more likely it is to learn to talk.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that an “only” parrot is generally more interested in learning human speech than parrots that are around other birds. Parrots also seem to pick up words and phrases that are said with emphasis or that you speak in an animated fashion. Parrots are drama queens (and kings)! So put a little drama into your speech, and your bird will be much more interested in what you have to say.
Living with a talking parrot is a lot of fun. The things they say sometimes – and when they say them – is just amazing. However, parrots have so much more to offer as companions than just the ability to talk. Whether your parrot learns to say one word or 100, I hope you can enjoy all of the many wonderful qualities that they have to offer.