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How Well Can Parrots Talk?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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The majority of parrots can learn often-repeated words and sounds. Parrot owners can expect a bird to begin talking after six months of age, sometimes starting with mimicries of microwaves and phone sounds. Breed plays a role in how well parrots talk, with medium to large birds being deemed the most intelligent. In addition, training must start early and be consistent in order for a parrot to learn to talk. After about 18 months of age, a parrot might never learn to speak if not trained to.

Parrots talk early in their life, considering their age, which can exceed that of humans. A bird may start practicing with frequently heard sounds around the home or pet store. The sound of oven timers, greetings, and goodbyes might be some of the first things learned. Parrots tend to prefer learning words that are spoken with emphasis, which makes swear words a popular choice.

Medium to large parrots can develop a vocabulary of more than 100 words; in fact, multiple parrots have achieved vocabularies of more than 800 words. Determining how well parrots talk involves looking at more than their number of spoken words, however. Some parrots have a rarely seen mastery over spoken language by understanding and speaking with humor or mimicking tones of voice. While most parrots are capable of speaking when given enough training, not all can learn to use phrases in context or different tones of voice.

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How well parrots talk depends on the breed, among other things. Smaller birds tend to make less impressive mimics than large birds. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general large birds are easier to teach and understand. Parakeets, for example, are a common type of small parrot that rarely learn to mimic well, if at all. In addition, there are also large birds who sometimes fail to grasp the ability of mimicking. If having a talking parrot is important to a potential bird owner, the surest method of acquiring one is purchasing a parrot that already talks.

The first year of a parrot’s life is an important time because this is when it develops the ability to talk. A parrot who has regular stimulation and is often encouraged to talk by being talked to will likely be a better talker than a bird who is not interacted with. Essentially, the more time a parrot owner puts into training his or her parrot, the stronger potential the bird has at being a good talker.

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umbra21
Post 3

@pastanaga - I would suggest someone who wants a talking bird that is fairly low maintenance should try a cockatiel. They aren't expensive and they can be lovely, affectionate birds. They won't ever be able to recite hundreds of words, but they can learn how to say hello when you walk in the door.

pastanaga
Post 2

@Mor - African greys are extremely smart, but that's why most people should not keep them as pets. They are like children and they need constant simulation or they will either become destructive or might even get sick and die.

They live for about 40 years too and they are picky about who looks after them, so you can't just get them a babysitter and hope for the best.

Too many people think they sound like a cool bird because they are so smart and can talk, but aren't prepared for the intensive care they need in order to thrive. If you've never even kept a parakeet before you should try one of those first and work your way up to a grey.

Mor
Post 1

If you're interested in talking birds you should look up African grey parrots. They are the ones who learn how to talk the most easily and one particular grey parrot holds the record for the most words learned I think.

I read about it a while ago so I don't remember exactly, but I think they even trained this bird to the point where it could speak in basic sentences, like distinguishing between a red ball and a blue ball and stating what action it was going to do with the ball. Which is pretty incredible, when you think about it.

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