How to Teach Your Pet Bird to Talk

Young woman smiling at pet bird indoors
Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images
  • 01 of 04

    Get to Know Your Bird

    The first step to teaching your bird to talk is to bond with your feathered friend and form reasonable expectations of him.

    Not all bird species can talk, and even those that have the ability sometimes choose not to use it. To determine is your bird is a good candidate for speech training, do a bit of research on your pet's species. Some birds are known to be better talkers than others, so you shouldn't expect your pet to say more than he or she is capable of.
     

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  • 02 of 04

    Choose Your Words Wisely

    The best way to encourage birds to speak is to choose a few short words for them to start off with. Examples of good starter words include "hello", "bye-bye", "nite nite", or even your bird's own name.

    Simple words, when said with enthusiasm, seem to become more interesting to most parrots. Make sure that when you speak to your bird, you do so in a happy, positive tone.

    Watch your bird as you repeat the words you've chosen. If you pay close attention, you will probably see that some words catch his attention more than others. Use the word that your bird responds to the most for your first "training word".
     

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    Repeat the Word or Phrase as Often as Possible

    Once you have locked onto a word that your feathered friend is interested in, repeat the word to him as often as you possibly can.

    Parrots learn to mimic through repetition -- so saying the word over and over again is the only way to encourage your bird to say it back.

    While it's always best for owners to teach their pets directly, some owners opt to use extra learning tools such as tape recorders and CD's to help teach their birds to talk. Using these tools can be effective, and certainly won't hinder the training process, but owners should know that they are no substitute for one on one interaction, and should be used only as supplemental training aids.
     

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    Have Patience, and Don't Get Discouraged

    The fastest way to encourage a bird to talk is to set up a training routine and work with it every day. Even this method, however, is not entirely guaranteed to work. While some birds pick up on human speech quite readily, some birds take months or even years to say their first word. Some will never talk at all -- even owners that work with their pets diligently sometimes end up with a bird that won't say a word.

    If you feel like your bird is taking too long with his speech training, try teaching something a little bit easier, such as whistling. Many birds find whistling much easier than mimicking speech, and some may be more willing to give it a try for this reason.

    With love, patience, and plenty of practice and training time, most birds that are members of the parrot family will learn to mimic something.

    Pay attention to the vocalizations that your bird makes during the day. You may be surprised to find that you recognize some of them as environmental sounds that you hear every day in your home, like telephones, microwave buzzers, and doorbells.

    Even if your bird never speaks a human word, you shouldn't feel slighted. Speech training, interaction, and socialization all help to strengthen the bond between you and your pet, so if your bird remains silent, you can still be assured that you'll get a loveable, intelligent, and interesting companion out of the deal -- and as far as owning a bird goes, that's the best part!