One of the biggest benefits of owning a parrot is having a bird that can talk. Since all parrots have the anatomy to learn human speech, there is really no reason not to teach your pet a few words. Just how well your bird will speak depends on the breed and the individual bird.
Some pets are more inspired to chat than others. If you want to teach your pet parrot to talk, here are a few important tips to follow.
1. Get the right bird
If you are very serious about wanting a talking parrot, you will probably want to consider getting a species that is known for speaking. All parrots can mimic human sounds, but some are much better at it than others. For example, the best bird for speaking is the Congo African Grey Parrot.
Amazon parrots, budgies and cockatiels also tend to learn well, but macaws are often resistant to learning. Do some research on the individual species before you choose your parrot.
2. Start with food words
Your bird is more likely to respond and repeat words that relate to its favorite treats. Start with a favorite food such as nuts or bananas. Say the word each time you offer the food. When you teach words that your bird can use to get specific treats, it will be more likely to learn the word and use it.
3. Speak enthusiastically
Anyone who has ever had a parrot pick up bad words will notice that birds tend to enjoy repeating anything said with force. You can use this to your advantage. Say the words you want your pet to learn loudly and eagerly. Your bird will be much more likely to pick up exciting words and phrases.
4. Reward anything that sounds remotely like the word you’re teaching
If your pet says something that sounds remotely like the word you want it to learn, reward it. You should repeat the word, as well, so that your bird will be able to speak more clearly next time. With consistent rewards, you’ll notice that the bird will speak better and increase its vocabulary.
5. Talk to your bird all the time
Chat away as you make dinner or any time you are in the room with your bird. Your parrot will learn much faster if he hears you talking frequently. Speak enthusiastically for the best results. It doesn’t really matter what you talk about. You can explain what you are doing or talk about your day at work or even memories. The point is to expose your pet to plenty of words.
6. Expose your parrot to other talking birds
Parrots can learn from each other, so go ahead and let them hang out together. Your pet will enjoy the company and may come back with a few new phrases. An advantage of having more than one bird yourself is that your parrot will have company. Most of these birds are very social and do not do well alone. They will need a lot of attention or a companion or two.
7. Reinforce existing words
Don’t focus so much on new words that you ignore previously learned vocabulary. It is possible for parrots to drop words they once knew if they are not used anymore. To avoid this, do a review from time to time and you should see an increase in vocabulary as new words are learned, rather than words being replaced with new ones.
8. Reduce distractions
Each learning session should be done with as few distractions as possible. Place your bird on a T stand so it can pay attention to you. Remove toys from the area unless you are using them to teach a word. Any external noises should be reduced, if possible.
9. Be patient
It may take a while for your pet to learn to talk. Patience is the key here. Set aside time to practice talking each day. Regular practice will help your parrot learn faster.
While most birds don’t require a lot of time per session, chances are your parrot will enjoy the social time, so go ahead and talk for a while. Don’t make every interaction about speaking, however. Parrots need to have fun, too, so take time to play on a daily basis.
10. Start young
Like humans, most parrots are more capable of learning early in life. If you can get your parrot early on, you will have a much better chance of teaching it multiple words. Most parrots will learn the most before age 2, though some, like the African Grey parrots, will learn just fine long after this.
It can take time and patience to teach a parrot to talk. However, some will learn even when you don’t want them to. Keep trying and make sure you are offering rewards for speaking. Give your pet a reason to chat with you.