When we hear the word "parrot," an iconic image comes to mind: a large, colorful bird whose most distinguishing characteristic is its ability to mimic human speech. As important as it may seem to find a bird with exceptional speech abilities, it is far more important to only adopt a bird whose traits are compatible with your personality and lifestyle. Read about these eight species to get an idea if one of these birds would be a fitting pet for you and your household.
With all bird species, the quality and quantity of their speaking abilities will vary between individual birds, with some birds even choosing not to talk at all. Adhering to a frequent training schedule and making sure to provide plenty of practice can go a long way toward helping a quieter bird find its voice.
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Macaws are known for their beautiful colors, bold personalities, and advanced capabilities for mimicking human speech. Macaws are able to learn upwards of 100 different words, and some even seem to be able to use them in context. Like some other types of large parrots, Macaws are quite skilled at learning short phrases; some even learn to sing snippets of songs.
Length: 32 inches; half the total body length is in the tail feathers
Weight: 1 kilogram
Physical Characteristics: Feathers of scarlet, light blue, yellow; flight feathers are dark blue, dark red, gold, sometimes green; white skin around the eyes
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Hailing from the "Land Down Under," the cockatoos are another large parrot species that have displayed speech abilities in captivity. While it has been reported to be difficult to train Cockatoos to talk, the birds may merely have a softer, sweeter speaking voice than other parrots.
Length: 18 inches
Weight: 400 to 800 grams
Physical Characteristics: Feathers are mostly white; some feathers underneath the wings are yellow; females can have reddish eyes while males are brown to black
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Often regarded as the best communicators in the bird world, African Grey Parrots have not only displayed the ability to mimic up to 1,000 words, but some who have been studied are reported to also be able to associate those words with their meaning, effectively making it possible for them to communicate with their owners. Dr. Irene Pepperberg of The Alex Foundation has made great strides in studying the exciting communication and comprehension skills of these intelligent birds.
Length: 13 inches
Weight: 420 to 520 grams
Physical Characteristics: Body feathers are varying shades of gray; tail feathers are red
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The colorful, eye-catching Amazon Parrots are a whole genus of larger birds that can amass an impressive vocabulary. While much fuss has been made over the speaking skills of the African Greys, it is Amazon Parrots who are the most widely regarded among experienced bird owners for having the clearest voices and most accurate pronunciation skills.
Length: 13 to 15 inches
Weight: 200 to 700 grams
Physical Characteristics: Green body feathers; over 15 subspecies of Amazon Parrot have different head coloringsContinue to 5 of 8 below.
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The Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot is the talking favorite among the genus of Amazon Parrots. Many even become accomplished singers. If you want a bird that's a true chatterbox, the Yellow Naped Amazon may be for you.
Length: 12 to 15 inches
Weight: 600 grams
Physical Characteristics: bright green color with a blaze of yellow along the back of the neck.
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With the females displaying striking red and purple feathers and the males donning bright green plumage, you might think that the most interesting thing about Eclectus parrots is their beautiful coloring. And yet Eclectus Parrots have strong speech capabilities; most readily mimic their owners.
Length: 14 inches
Weight: 400 to 550 grams
Physical Characteristics: Male body is green with blue and red, yellow on the head; female body is red with purple and blue and some yellow
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While the Indian Ringneck Parrakeet is not an expert at being able to mimic the human voice, this bird uses its own bird voice to capture mood and sentiment. Individuals have been known to learn up to 250 words.
Length: 16 inches
Weight: 140 to 160 grams
Physical Characteristics: Body feathers are always bright green; male has a red and black neck ring, female has no ring or a pale shadow
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The Monk Parakeet is actually a small parrot. It is well known for its ability to build a large vocabulary or words and phrases. The more you verbally explain what you are doing around the cage, the more this bird will pick up on the words for things and how to mimics those words.
LENGTH: 11 inches
WEIGHT: 90 to 100 grams
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Feathers can be bred to pale green, white, or blue, and yellow; orange beaks
Birds to Avoid
If you're looking for a chatty bird, avoid species such as cockatiels and doves, which are known to be on the quiet side. But keep in mind that every individual bird is different. Although some species tend to be more quiet or chatty as a general rule, always assess the individual bird you want to bring home before committing; you might just be surprised at what they can do.