When some people think of a talking pet bird, they might picture a large Amazon parrot or eclectus. But there are many small- to medium-sized bird species that can learn to talk just as well as their large parrot cousins. Some species have the capacity to learn a plethora of words and phrases while others only tend to repeat a few simple words. Here are eight small and medium pet bird species that can be trained to talk.
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One of the smallest and most popular pet birds is also among the best talkers. Budgies (or parakeets) are capable of learning hundreds of words—far more than many birds several times their size. It can take some practice to get these small parrots to start talking, but patient and consistent owners are often rewarded with birds that constantly chatter using human words.
Length: 6 to 8 inches
Weight: 1 ounce
Physical Characteristics: Green abdomen; black and yellow back; yellow head; dark blue tail; mutations include blue, yellow, white, and gray
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With some Indian ringneck parakeets boasting vocabularies of more than 500 words, it's no wonder these birds once were only available as pets to those in positions of nobility. In addition, religious leaders in India once thought ringnecks were holy, as they observed the birds reciting prayers in the gardens outside of their monasteries. As it turns out, the birds were simply mimicking the people's daily prayer sessions.
Length: 14 to 17 inches
Weight: 4 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Green plumage; blue tail; yellow under wings; males have black and rose rings around their necks; mutations include blue, cinnamon, albino, and lutino
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Anyone looking to adopt a real chatterbox should consider a quaker parrot (or monk parakeet). These birds are known for their spunky personalities and clear, high-quality speech. But if you are interested in a quaker, check your local laws before bringing one home. They are illegal to keep as pets in some parts of the United States, as they can become invasive to native wildlife if they escape.
Length: 11 to 12 inches
Weight: 3 to 5 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Green head, wings, and body; gray breast, cheeks, and throat; blue flight feathers; mutations include blue, albino, cinnamon, lutino, and pied
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Native to Africa, the Senegal parrot is a charming bird that thrives on socialization with its caretaker. You should have several hours each day to interact with your bird if you're considering this species. These birds tend to be somewhat calmer and quieter than other parrot species, but they do have the ability to mimic speech and other sounds with consistent training.
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 4 to 5 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Gray head; green wings and chest; V-shaped patch of a red to yellow color on bellyContinue to 5 of 8 below.
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Another good option for a medium-sized talking bird is a blue-crowned conure. In general, conures aren’t the best talkers, preferring to mimic other sounds, such as the beeping of an alarm clock. But the blue-crowned conure is capable of learning several words and phrases with frequent training sessions. This bird also has the capacity to shriek quite loudly, so it’s not ideal for apartment living.
Length: 15 inches
Weight: 3 to 6 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Bright blue head; green body; reddish tail tip; pink legs; tan beak; white rings around eyes
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The black-hooded parakeet (or nanday conure) is an intelligent medium-sized bird that loves to play and socialize. They tend to be quite affectionate with their caretakers and love learning tricks. They’re also a very vocal species with the ability to learn some words and short phrases, though their voices usually are rather raspy and lack clarity.
Length: 10 to 11 inches
Weight: 5 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Black head; green body; grayish-blue chest patch; blue tail; red accent on legs; white eye rings; black beak
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Cockatiels aren't as chatty as some other pet bird species, but they can be taught a few words. Moreover, they tend to be very adept at mimicking household noises, such as telephone ringers, microwaves, doorbells, and alarm clocks. Many cockatiels also are accomplished whistlers, with some learning to whistle entire songs.
Length: 12 to 13 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Physical Characteristics: Gray body; yellow face and crest; orange cheeks; long tail; mutations include albino, lutino, pied, and cinnamon
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Parrotlets have big personalities packed into tiny bodies. These “pocket parrots” are intelligent, active little birds that can be very sweet companions when properly socialized. They’re not particularly recognized for their talking ability, but some can learn to speak a few words in a much quieter volume than many larger parrots.
Length: 4 to 5 inches
Weight: 1 ounce
Physical Characteristics: Green head and body; blue on back and behind eyes; mutations include blue, yellow, and white