Teaching a parrot to Talk Basic Guide

A guide to some of the more talkative parrot and tips on teaching your bird speech.


Choosing a bird as a pet can be a rewarding experience for both the bird and the owner.

Birds are generally social animals that thrive on attention. With many species living 50 years or more, birds can be a lifelong companion for most people.

One reason birds are a popular choice as pets is the ability they have a talk or mimic human speech. Not all species are able to talk clearly. For people in the market for speaking birds, the choices are abundant. The type of bird most people associate with speech is the parrot and with good reason. Many people don’t realize how big the parrot family actually is and what choices are available to them.

Macaws are what many people imagine when they think of parrots. They are easily recognizable by their bright multi-colored plumage. The macaw is the largest of the parrots. There are several different types of macaws and they are all considered great pets because of their docile nature.  Macaws can be taught to speak, but they are considered loud and not as clear as other parrots. They are generally extremely clever birds that can be taught tricks.

The conure parrot is a smaller bird that is often called a parakeet. These smaller parrots can be great talkers with the right training. They are considered very active birds that can be quite loud for their small size.

One of the best talking parrots is the Amazon parrot. Usually entirely vibrant green, these birds are very intelligent and pick up human speech quickly. These active birds can become aggressive in adulthood. These larger parrots require a lot of attention and may not be the best pet choice for a family pet.

The African Grey is considered the best talker of all parrots. One of the most intelligent and trainable birds, some reports have shown African Grey’s with a vocabulary over 1000 words. Some people consider African Grey to be a sensitive bird due to their higher intelligence and they can be excitable. These birds need a lot of stimulation and playtime.

Larger birds do not have a monopoly on good speaking ability. Some of the smaller species are known for their mimicry. One such bird is the budgerigar, often called the “budgie”. Natives of Australia, these small parakeets are renowned for their ability to repeat speech and usually learn very quickly. They can live for about ten years as pets and are lively and talkative companions.

Another small bird that is a popular pet and good with mimicry is the cockatiel. Not the best talkers when compared to some other species, these small birds can learn to imitate short phrases and sounds. They also make great family pets, as they are very friendly and loveable birds.

Another bird often associated with good speech is the cockatoo. These birds are easily identified by their unusual head crest and large size. There are several different types of cockatoos and they are often sought as pets for their remarkable plumage.  These birds are exceptional talkers able to learn many different phrases and they often imitate common household sounds remarkably well. Cockatoos are very social birds and generally love lots of affection.

When choosing a bird for its ability to speak, be prepared to spend time on training and helping your new pet learn phrases. Repetition is important when learning to speak. Try to stick to one or two phrases until they are mastered, before moving on to new words. Many people today are putting their voices on tapes or CD’s and playing it back to their birds while they at work or away from home. This system seems to work for some people, but do not try to use this system exclusively as most birds thrive on praise and human contact.

Not all birds will learn to speak at the same time. Much like people, all birds are different and learn at their own pace. Patience, repetition, and affection are all key ingredients in helping your bird learn new things. Birds often become part of the family and due to their long lifespan bring years of enjoyment and companionship to many people.