Parrots are a popular choice of pet for families and one of the reasons for this is their ability to talk. Everyone wants their furry friend to chat and have some fun, but every parrot species is going to learn at different times.
At what age do parrots start talking? The answer to this question is not straight forward and every parrot will start to speak at their own pace. Some parrots will start as early as three months old while some may be 12 months. The sooner you start to speak to your furry friend the better.
Let’s learn more about why parrots speak and how you can get your pet to have a conversation with you.
The Age Parrots Begin to Talk
There is not an age where your parrot is guaranteed to talk. There are varying factors that can influence when your feathery friend starts to speak and how good they are at it. The general rule is that parrots can speak as early as a few months old. Alternatively, it could take years.
We’ll have a look at some of the factors that can affect when your parrot starts talking.
1. The Species of Parrot
Every parrot species is going to be different and start to talk at different ages. For example, African grey parrots and cockatiels are known for being chatty species. But some types, such as Quaker parrots, may typically take a little longer to learn to mimic.
It is important to remember that not every parrot will talk despite what species they are. For example, if you rescue or adopt an older parrot that has never been taught to speak words or phrases, they may not do this with you no matter how hard you try.
But this is not to say that your parrot does not understand words you speak.
2. Consistent Training
Repeating the same words and phrases several times is the best way to teach your parrot how to talk. So, the more that you do this, the more likely your parrot will be to start chatting. In addition, the earlier you start to do this, the more likely they are to talk at a younger age.
3. Their Personality
Let’s not forget that all parrots have a different personality. There will be some parrots that are more curious than others and that wish to speak; others may not want to do this. It is often the case that parrots that have a bond and special relationship with you will want to mimic you.
4. The Gender
While gender is not decisive when it comes to talking, research finds that male parrots are more likely to talk than females. This might mean that it is easier for your male parrot to start speaking if the female. Again, this is not always going to be the case but it could be a factor.
Why Do Parrots Talk?
It is believed that parrots are social birds and they do not like to be alone. This means that they will try their hardest to fit in with the flock. In your home, this may mean they try to befriend you. They often copy human speech as a way to do this.
They just want to fit in and communicate.
Parrots are vocal learners. This means that they will copy the sounds that you make and mimic them. They also have a part of their brain that is called the song system. This makes them one of the few animals that can mimic human sounds very well.
How to Teach Your Parrot to Talk
Is your parrot not speaking yet? if you want to teach and encourage your feathery friend to start speaking and singing, we have some simple tips you can follow. Always make sure you are patient with your parrot; one day, they will speak back to you.
The better the relationship they have with you, the more likely they will begin to chat with you.
You might ask yourself if parrots are even able to understand what they are actually saying. We explain that in detail here!
Start with One or Two Words
To begin, try to make it easy for your parrot to mimic you. One or two simple words will be easier for them to pick up and learn. This could include “hello” or “hi there”.
You will notice their vocabulary expand over time and they will eventually be able to repeat whole sentences or a song. But to start, aim for simple and short words. Some good words and phrases to start with are:
- Hi mum/dad
- Feed me
- Let’s go
- Nice hat
- High five
Some parrots can learn more words than others. If you are asking yourself how many words your parrot will be able to learn, read our article on that here!
Repeat the Words Often
It is unlikely that you will say something once and your parrot will automatically speak back to you. You will have to repeat the word or phrase over and over again so your parrot can mimic it.
This is often how parrots start to copy the doorbell or telephone; they hear it often during the day. Again, be patient as not all parrots will speak straight away. It all takes time. Enjoy the quietness while it lasts!
Enunciate Clearly and Slowly
Your parrot has to hear you speaking clearly and slowly so they can copy you. So, take your time and make sure you enunciate the word properly. They won’t be able to mimic mumbling or anything that changes every time you say it.
It will help to use the same tone of voice every time you say it too. This way, you will be emphasizing the same syllables and they can get used to the sounds you are making.
Research has found that high pitch and excitable tones may be easier for parrots to mimic and encourage them to do so.
Stop and Take a Break
We know that you are excited and eager to hear your parrot speak. But pushing them too hard can be frustrating for your parrot. You do not want to tire them out. Only repeat the word five or six times in one training session.
Then you can take a break for a while. You do not want your parrot to lose interest. As a rule of thumb, around 5 to 10 minutes should be enough for a training session.
Parrots want to know when they are doing a good job. So, when your parrot speaks to you, remember to reward he or she with a treat. They will soon figure out that when they speak and do what you want, they will be able to eat a tasty treat.
How many words can a parrot learn? It is believed that parrots can learn up to around 300 words that you teach them. This gives them an extensive vocabulary and they are likely to remember words and phrases for life. They can mix them around into sentences and sing them back to you.
Can you use tapes to help parrot speech? Some parrots may be able to learn from tapes and CDs and copy the sounds that they hear. But this should not be a substitute for one-on-one training sessions with your parrot. You can give them praise and some parrots are more visual learners.