Teaching Your Pet Bird to Talk

Mar_2014_7

Do you talk to your pets? If you have a pet bird, don’t be surprised if he learns to talk back. To encourage these bird chats, train your pet with these steps…

Make it fun and interesting

Birds respond to enthusiasm, so make it sound like a game and speak loudly and enthusiastically – as if you’re speaking to a child. Repeat the word in different tones of voice several times a day.

What to teach?

Your pet may respond more easily to names of foods he likes. Teach him “apple” or “nut” for example and reward him with it when he says the word. You can also tie words to actions. Say “hello” when you arrive home, “goodbye” when you leave or “goodnight” when you cover his cage. If you’re consistent, your pet may repeat these words back to you.

Reinforce and reward

If your little guy is close to saying the word, reinforce it with vocal approval (“Good” or “Good boy!”) and reward him right away. Keep in mind that while many birds are motivated by food as a reward, some are motivated by attention, such as head scratches, etc.

When is he talking?

Your pet’s first words probably won’t be very clear and will likely sound like muttering or whistling with speech-like intonation. That’s OK. Encourage his progress by getting excited and saying the word back to him.

Is your bird likely to talk?

With some species (like parakeets or cockatiels), a male is more likely to talk, although a female might still understand what you say. Species that are known to talk include African grey parrots, blue-fronted Amazon parrots, yellow-naped Amazon parrots, double yellow-headed Amazon parrots, Eclectus parrots, Quaker parrots, Indian ring-necked parakeets, cockatiels, conures and budgies or parakeets.