How to teach a parrot to talk
Parrot speech training
to a parrot chatting along is really delightful, so it’s no wonder that so many
bird owners seek a bird that can talk.
easy is it to teach your parrot to speak and sing? It all depends on your
parrot’s personality, his living situation, species and the amount of time and
enthusiasm given by the owner to lessons.
Some species are more renowned than
others for being good talkers, but its not unheard of for an African grey
(one of the most reliable talking birds) to say little or nothing
at all, so please don’t purchase a bird just because you think it will
have a lot to say!
There are several different methods used by pet
bird owners to teach their feathered friend desired words, phrases and songs. One of these is
repetition. It often happens that if your bird hears you saying something to him often enough, he will begin
to repeat the word. Perhaps this is just mimicry or perhaps the bird assumes this is an important form of
communication between you. I believe it to be the second one!
Another method is word association. I use this quite
often with my grey, not just for speech training but for other forms of
training. He also makes his own associations without my help.
For example, when I was potty training him, I used the
command “go toilet” when I wanted him to drop. He started repeating this
phrase, often just before he was going to drop a poo no matter where he
was. He then follows this action with “good toilet!”
This is the sneaky bit. He learned that when he went
potty in the right place and said “good toilet”, as a reward for being so good,
I would pick him up for a quick cuddle and set him back down again. So
when I had my back turned he would say “good toilet Tikki!” and I would pick
him up to cuddle him.
However, I soon realised that most of the time he wasn’t going potty at all! He was just
asking for a cuddle! Word association can also be used to teach labels. For example, you can teach
your parrot to realise that a grape is called “grape” and a nut is called “nut” etc. This generally works
best with treats that they like.
When you offer your bird a grape or some other favoured treat, before you hand it over, repeat
the name of the object several times so that the bird begins to make the association between the word they are
hearing and the object they receive. Do this every time and your parrot may begin to say “grape” every
time he wants a grape!
Loop tapes are another popular method used for
teaching birds words, phrases and songs. They are widely available from pet stores and catalogues and offer a
whole range of categories to choose from. You could also make your own. When you’re out or the bird is
on its own, just let the tape play over and over. Although this often proves a successful training method,
some birds seem to just tune it out, so if you do make a tape, try and make it varied, enthusiastic-sounding and
Some parrots seem to pick up words and phrases
without someone knowingly teaching them. My Congo grey really seems to pay attention when the house is busy
and there is a lot of excitement going on around him. It is then that he tends to pick up things that no-one
admits to having taught him to say. He just picks out words and phrases that he likes and adds them to his
Placing your parrot’s cage or t-perch in a busy
part of the house such as the living room could greatly increase the talking potential of your bird. However,
you really need to watch what you say in front of a particularly avid speaking parrot, as they may pick up things
that you would rather they didn’t. A spontaneous swear word in front of company may not be welcomed in all
Parrot speech training - Hints n
Insert plenty of enthusiasm and excitement into
your voice when speech training your bird.
Reward your bird for providing the desired
response (but be careful what reward you choose as your parrot may come to expect it every time)
Try to schedule lessons when the bird is at its
most talkative times of day.
Speak clearly, loudly (but don't shout) and
really pronounce the words.
See also Parrot talking (Speech training