Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Ali Shahid
Parrots are famous for copying human words, but do they truly talk like us? Have you ever wondered: Can Parrots Talk? Those colorful birds you encounter in the wild or in pet stores often produce intriguing sounds.
Out of all the creatures on Earth, only two groups can generate human language: humans and birds. Among the limited number of birds that can mimic human speech, such as mynah birds, crows, and ravens, parrots are the most skilled at it.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the fascinating world of parrot speech. We’ll explore all aspects of this subject, including how parrots acquire the ability to talk, what they comprehend, and the reasons behind their imitation of human speech.
How do parrots learn to talk?
Parrots are good at copying sounds because they learn by listening and then mimicking what they hear. While some other birds can also imitate sounds, parrots are the experts at it. They can learn hundreds of words and even understand the meaning of some of them.
Unlike humans, who use vocal cords and lips, parrots make sounds by using the muscles in their throats to control the airflow over their windpipe. They have a unique structure called the syrinx, which is a hollow, Y-shaped part located between their windpipe and lungs.
When the parrot breathes, the syrinx vibrates and produces sounds (BBC Science Focus). Additionally, parrots have a special part in their brain called an “outer shell,” which scientists believe helps them excel at mimicking sounds.
Do parrots understand human language?
Experts suggest that parrots probably don’t truly grasp the meanings of most words. However, they are adept at picking up on the context in which words are used and forming associations with them. For instance, when a parrot-like Alex greets you with “How are you?” upon entering the room, it’s not genuinely inquiring about your well-being.
This is because your parrot imitates what it has heard you say when you enter a room. In most cases, parrots are simply mimicking their human companions without a real understanding of the words they’re using.
Yet, there are exceptions. Some specially trained parrots, like Alex, have been taught to comprehend and utilize language. In the case of Alex, an African Grey Parrot, he could name 50 different objects, recognize seven colors, identify six shapes, and even count up to eight by the end of his life.
Why do parrots mimic human speech?
Parrots like to be with their parrot pals and fit in with them. In the wild, they make bird noises because they’re around other birds. However, when they’re around people, they often mimic human words because they see us as their new family.
They copy our sounds to be a part of our group. Pet parrots have everything they need to learn the language – they have time, they’re inspired, and they’re smart. But wild parrots don’t have the chance to be close to human speech.
When will my parrot start to talk?
Parrots usually start talking when they are around three months to a year old. If a parrot can already talk, it will continue to learn more words as long as it has the opportunity.
If you’re thinking of getting a baby parrot, one that its parrot parents raised probably learned their parrot language. A parrot that can communicate effectively in its own language is likely to be well-prepared for learning the human language.
Although there is no concrete evidence, it has been suggested that babies born to parents who are able to speak may inherit the ability to speak (Exotic Direct UK).
But, here’s a word of caution: Some parrots, like Greys and Amazons, may never learn to speak human language. You should be prepared for the possibility that your charming and affectionate pet may never speak English. If having a parrot that can talk is very important to you, it’s a good idea to consider getting one that already knows how to talk.
How to Teach a Parrot to Talk?
Teaching your parrot to talk can be an enjoyable and fulfilling endeavor. To help you in this process, here are some essential tips:
1. Observe your parrot’s mood and ensure it is comfortable before you begin the training.
2. Begin with uncomplicated words or phrases, like “hello” or “good morning.”
3. Repeat these words or phrases consistently, using a clear and distinct voice.
4. Encourage your parrot by using rewards or praise when it successfully repeats the words or phrases.
5. Remember that patience and persistence are key, as your parrot may need some time to grasp and mimic the words or phrases.
6. Avoid scolding or punishing your parrot if it doesn’t catch on quickly, as this can demotivate them from learning.
Can every parrot talk?
It’s important to understand that not all parrots can talk. Although parrots are capable of learning and mimicking human speech, their abilities in this regard can vary. Some parrots excel at whistling and singing, while others may be moderately skilled at talking.
Moreover, certain parrots may never pick up human language, even with early training. It’s crucial to recognize that a parrot’s capacity to talk is influenced by factors such as its individual personality, surroundings, and the training it receives.
8 Types of Parrots That Talk
There are various kinds of parrots that have the ability to talk. Let’s explore some of the most well-known ones:
1. African Grey Parrots: These parrots are known for their exceptional intelligence when it comes to talking. They can grasp an impressive vocabulary, reaching up to 1,000 words or more. Their cognitive abilities are often compared to that of a 2-3-year-old child.
2. Macaws: Macaws are also regarded as good talkers among parrots. They can pick up and mimic around 100 to 120 human words and phrases.
3. Eclectus Parrots: The talking abilities of Eclectus Parrots largely depend on early training. They can become strong talkers with the right guidance from a young age.
4. Amazon Parrots: Amazon Parrots are famous for their extensive vocabularies and exceptional voice clarity, which is often considered superior to other parrot types.
5. Cockatoos: While Cockatoos have softer and sweeter speaking voices compared to other parrots, it might be somewhat challenging to train them to talk. Nevertheless, with patience and effort, they can indeed learn to talk.
6. Quaker Parrots (Monk Parakeets): Quaker Parrots have long been admired for their talking abilities and charming personalities. They can learn a wide range of phrases and even songs.
7. Budgies (Budgerigars/Parakeets): Surprisingly, these smaller parrots, also known as budgies, can be as skilled if not better at talking than some larger parrot species. Some budgies have even developed vocabularies consisting of hundreds of words.
8. Yellow-naped Amazon: The Yellow-naped Amazon is another parrot with remarkable talking skills. They are capable of learning a variety of words and phrases.
How can Parrot Speak English?
Parrots are skilled at learning to speak various languages, including English. They achieve this ability through their talent for listening and imitating sounds. This enables them to learn and replicate human speech, making them remarkable vocal learners.
Generally speaking, parrots are skilled vocal mimickers, capable of imitating human speech. They acquire this talent through the process of listening and replicating sounds, although their comprehension of the words they speak is limited.
Most likely, they don’t understand the meanings of the majority of words. Parrots imitate human speech as a means to bond with their human companions. While they can learn to say hundreds of words, their ability to use human language is not on par with humans.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.