Teach Your Bird to Talk

Black Palm Cockatoo

The Parrot Family includes a wide range of birds, most of which can be taught to talk. Mynah birds, members of the Starling Family, are big talkers too. Teaching your bird to talk can be a fun, bonding time.

Mynah birds and some members of the Parrot Family are fast learners like African Greys, Budgerigars (Parakeets), Cockatoos, Eclectus, Lorikeets and Amazons. Birds such as Cockatiels and Sun Conures may learn a few words or sounds, although some have quite a vocabulary.

Experts say that the males of the species learn to talk much more easily than the females. So much for women doing all the talking.

In order to teach your bird, it must feel safe and secure and trust you. Give your bird lots of attention. Scratch the back of his neck, he’ll love that. You can repeat the words “I love you” while scratching. He’ll learn to associate the phrase with the action. Same with the word “kiss”. If you say kiss and then actually kiss your bird, he’ll get the message.

You would like your bird not only to mimic what you say, but to use his intelligence, saying the right words at the appropriate time.

You’ll need a lot of patience and time for your bird to learn to talk. Take about 10-15 minutes several times a day. Get up close to your bird and keep repeating the word or phrase you want him to learn. Don’t go on to a new word/phrase until your bird repeats the current one clearly. Where possible repeat the word/phrase with an accompanying action. Eventually you’ll be able to teach your bird commands such as come, jump up, etc. You can offer your bird his favorite treat when he performs.

Soon after your bird learns the first couple of words/phrases, he may surprise you by picking up words on his own from hearing them said often. But keep in mind – once you teach your bird to talk, be careful what you say in front of him unless you don’t mind what he repeats. And expect your bird to be a loud talker.

But don’t be discouraged if your bird doesn’t learn to talk. Some birds will mimic sounds and whistles. And whether you have a bird that speaks your language or his own, your pet bird will communicate his love and trust and will be lots of fun.

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