First let me say that not all parrots will talk.
Even those species that are known to be good talkers
don't always talk. It's rare to see an African Grey
who won't speak, but it happens. If you are getting
a parrot just because you want a talking parrot, you
are getting him or her for the wrong reason.
Remember above all, parrots are loving, adorable,
long term companions, not something to play with
when you have the time, or a room decoration.
Ok, now that you understand that, do you know
which parrots are talkers and which are not? African
Greys, of course, talk as do Macaws, Amazons, and
some Cockatoos. Did you know that Budgies and
Cockatiels also talk? What about Ringnecks? Take
some time to make sure that your parrot is one of
those species who is capable of talking, you'd be
surprised how many there are.
The first step in teaching your parrot to talk is
repetition. If you want to hear it, say itÖ a lot.
Make a ritual out of certain phrases, such as saying
"Good Morning Samson" each morning as you uncover
your bird. When you hand over a favorite treat take
a moment to say "mmmm.....Good". This is the best
method for teaching your bird to speak. Some people
advocate the use of recordings, but I have to warn
you that while hearing "Pretty bird" once in a while
feels fantastic, hearing it 300 times in a row can
be a bit hair raising. Speak to your bird in
context. "Do you want to take a bath, Rosie?"
Once they start understanding, you will be surprised
how fast they can pick up words. Talk to them
as you would a one year old child, clearly and with
patience. It really works.
Remember when teaching your bird anything, it is
important that he or she hears you. Don't have the
TV running in the background, music is distracting,
and sometimes even other birds can be too much. Try
to pick a time when your bird and you can be one on
one for lessons. A bird that is listening to you and
learning will show you by his body stance. He will
stop and stare at you, you may notice his pupils
changing (flashing), and you can tell that you are
the center of his attention.
Many birds will initially begin to talk with
mumbles. This is the speech emerging, and often the
parrot will practice this alone. Many parrots prefer
to talk only to themselves, or to the people they
know and trust. Don't be surprised if you wake up
some morning and hear a smorgasbord of phrases
coming from Hootieís cage.
Some parrots will pick up household sounds, some
of which might become annoying. It can be
entertaining to hear though, its pretty funny when a
bird rings like the phone and then answers itself
"Hello". Itís not as entertaining when your parrot
decides to imitate your alarm clock for an hour at a
time. Protect your bird from picking up these
nuisance sounds as best you can, remember you are
the one who will have to live with them.
Speaking of nuisance sounds, remember when you
speak that there are little feathered ears around.
Some words and phrases you donít want the bird to
say are favorites for imitation. It can be highly
embarrassing to have Matisse squawk out "Oh S***!!"
during the middle of a family dinner. This means you
need to be careful of using profanity. It's not fair
to expect a bird to learn only what you want to
teach, and its heartbreaking when a parrot loses his
home because of it.
Donít forget the whistles. While many people
believe teaching a parrot to whistle will discourage
it from talking instead; a good whistle can be a lot
of fun. Most talking parrots can wolf-whistle, and a
few can whistle tunes. Make sure your whistle
is clear though, if you whistle off key, your parrot
will whistle off key too.
Keep in mind that while some birds might be
muttering while still unweaned others begin to talk
later in life. Papaya, the Jenday, never uttered a
word until about 12 months of age. One day she said
"Step Up". Connor ,the Quaker, on the other
hand has been talking since we got him. He
keeps telling Harley, the Nanday, "Step Up, Harley,
Step Up". He sits in his covered cage after
bedtime talking to himself. We can hardly
watch TV for laughing at his little nighttime
Enjoy your parrot, speaking is not the end of the
world, itís just a fun stop on the journey.