While everyone is aware of African Grey parrots and their remarkable ability to talk, some common talking parakeets are overlooked for their ability to talk. Having owned a pet parakeet bird, I am very familiar with their day-to-day noisiness. From chirping to whistling and singing songs, they are known for being vocal. But can parakeets talk the way we do?
Parakeets are able to imitate human speech using words they have heard and mimicking their owner’s voice. Even though it can take them a while to learn how to talk, some parakeets have been known to learn hundreds of words.
Don’t go running to pet stores – or your very own bird – right away.
While the short answer is that parakeets do talk, there are still numerous factors that affect if your parakeet talks as not all of them will be able to learn, or they may learn to vary degrees.
Teaching parakeets to talk takes time and effort from both parties.
Do Parakeets Talk? Have you ever seen a budgie talking?
Parakeets, like other parrots, can talk through mimicking human voices.
In fact, parakeets are one of the most vocal birds in the parrot family, and they often tweet a song, talk, or mimic sounds they hear. However, parakeets do not speak as clearly as many of the larger talking birds.
But whether a parakeet mimic human voices depends on multiple factors such as how exposed they are to humans, the age they learn to speak, and even gender.
The way parakeets learn to mimic speech is through exposure and often hearing the same words repeatedly.
Thus, parakeets who spend less time around humans are unlikely to talk. Though they still have the capacity to learn, teaching them will be more difficult.
Parakeets, like humans, have an imprinting process in place when they are young, which makes it easier for them to learn things like how to mimic human speech.
Thus, if your parakeet hasn’t been taught to talk from a young age – usually under one year old – it will be difficult for them to learn to talk.
Additionally, there is an observed gap in how vocal male and female parakeets are.
Not only are males noisier and more talkative, but they are capable of learning how to mimic human speech faster and easier. However, this occurs in multiple other bird species as well.
How to Teach Your Parakeet to Talk?
Before you try to teach parakeets to talk, you need to ensure that they are happy and healthy so they will be more motivated to learn.
In addition, birds learn new words better and more effectively early in the morning since they are well-rested and can memorize information easier.
While it can take a while to teach your parakeet to talk, it isn’t much different from teaching a baby. The key is repetition.
Saying the words clearly, and often to your parakeet will make it a familiar sound that they can attempt to repeat back to you.
Be sure to start with simple and easy words, like short ones and ones with minimal syllables, especially when you are just beginning.
Treat your parakeet like a young child. Make sure you say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ whenever you come and go. Name things in their living environment.
Say ‘thank you to them whenever giving them food or a treat to condition them to say it. If you want them to learn their name, be sure to choose a simple name that is short and doesn’t have a lot of syllables.
Parakeets like budgies do not talk in sentences. This is why it’s easier to teach your parakeet singular keywords (only one word at a time) instead of phrases.
Starting with one or two easy words, then slowly giving them more to learn as they become accustomed to mimicking human speech.
Be sure to reward your parakeets as they make progress in learning new words and phrases.
Much like a baby learning to talk or a dog learning a new trick, being rewarded with treats, toys, and praise shows them that they are doing well by reinforcing their behavior.
What Words Can Parakeets Say?
Parakeets are able to learn nearly any word or phrase that they hear often enough.
Although they can mimic our speech, they do have limitations to the sounds they can make, considering they don’t have vocal cords.
As a general rule, parakeets are better at learning consonants – like d, k, p, t, b – rather than vowels, so keep this in mind when teaching them new words and phrases.
Seeing as parakeets do better with hard sounds compared to soft ones, you should begin by teaching them something they will pick up easier.
Most parakeets easily find words like ‘cutie,’ ‘sweet,’ and ‘kiss.’ In contrast, words like ‘ball’ may be more difficult.
Further, long phrases or songs are hard to memorize and keep in order, so keep things short and sweet.
How long does it take a parakeet to talk?
Now that we know parakeets can talk, one question that comes to our mind is how long does it take for parakeets to talk.
What time can a parakeet speak depends upon several factors like how you are teaching them and how fast they can memorize words. These are some of the things that are different from one parakeet to another.
On an average, parakeets start talking in 2-3 months. They start learning words in around 6 weeks and it certainly becomes easier when it is taught in a right way. Start with teaching them simple words and then move to complex phrases.
Do parakeets recognize their owners?
Parakeets are intelligent birds and learn fast. If you are living with a parakeet, they will recognize you and when you come to home they will start welcoming you.
Can female parakeets talk?
Female parakeets are slow learners and they can make the same budgie noises as males. Younger females can learn a few words but the majority of them never talk anything in their entire life.
Male parakeets are quick learners and learn and mimic sounds comparatively better than female parakeets.
Other Pet Birds that Can Talk
Songbirds and parrots are two groups of birds that can mimic human speech – parakeets falling under the parrot category.
However, these groups do not include all the birds which can talk. Many birds of the starling family can also create human speech, along with crows of the Corvidae family.
If you already have a pet bird, you would know that how difficult it can be to teach parakeets to talk.
The top 5 talking birds are as follows:
- African Grey
- Amazon Parrot
- Indian Ringneck Parakeet
- Quaker Parrot
There are many myths surrounding birds and their levels of intelligence depending on how easily they pick up human speech, but the truth is that it is not an accurate way to measure intelligence.
Birds cannot grasp the meanings of the words they say; they are merely able to mimic the sounds and relay them back to us.
Parakeets can often be overlooked for their talking ability, with people focusing on the bigger birds. However, parakeets like budgie’s are excellent talking birds and have even broken world records for the largest bird vocabulary.
While their voices may not be as clear as other birds’, they are more than capable of learning many words and phrases.
The Science Behind How Birds Talk
The way that parrots imitate human speech is noteworthy. How birds are able to learn words, phrases, songs and can imitate tones despite their lack of vocal cords, lips, and teeth is remarkable.
Given that birds cannot produce sounds through their larynx, they rely on their keen hearing as well as a combination of their beaks, airways, throat muscles, and membranes – specifically the syrinx – to make sounds.
While humans have a larynx, nearly all birds have a syrinx. The syrinx is located between their voice box and bronchial tubes, branching out and opening into the bronchus.
Air from their lungs then passes through the syrinx, and they are able to use the air to produce sound.
Due to its structure, birds can produce sound with one, or both sides of the syrinx, making it possible for them to create two different tones at the same time.
The complexity of the sounds a bird can produce is affected by its neck muscles, the length of its windpipe, and the structure of its beak.
Hence, this explains why larger birds, like the African Grey parrot, can imitate human speech better than smaller birds, like budgies.
However, due to birds’ anatomy, it is impossible for them to pronounce words exactly the same way we do.
Some also have trouble making certain sounds, meaning that they may not be able to fully grasp every word you want them to learn.
Conclusion – Can Parakeets Talk?
If a parakeet is largely exposed to humans on a daily basis, they will become familiar with the tones and sounds of human speech, making it easier for them to learn to mimic a person’s voice.
Although they may not speak as clearly as larger birds, they are more than capable of learning a wide range of words and phrases with enough practice.
However, you need to keep in mind that if you are teaching your parakeet to talk from scratch, you need to clearly repeat a word to them so they can learn what it sounds like and practice copying it back to you.
It may take a few weeks for them to grasp and memorize a word fully, but the more they learn, the easier it should become to teach them.