If you are wondering if parakeets can talk, there is a very simple answer to your question:
Of course, parakeets can talk!
They just usually prefer to speak parakeet rather than human.
Learning what your parakeet’s sound means can add to your enjoyment of your bird. And sometimes, just sometimes, your parakeet will learn a few words of human speech.
But if you want your parakeet to learn a few words of human speech, first you are going to have to learn how to understand parakeets.
Parakeet Sounds and Vocalizations
Parakeets are highly intelligent birds. In their native Australia, they used to live in flocks of thousands of birds.
Parakeets in the wild use a variety of calls and chirps to keep track of their children.
Mother parakeets have a call to locate their children. Parakeets looking for love have a mating call. All parakeets have a call that warns other parakeets of danger.
Your pet parakeets brain is hardwired to make the same sounds and vocalizations as parakeets in the wild.
They use the same calls and chirps in their cages with the same meanings parakeets give them in the wild.
Parakeets speak (relatively) softly
But unlike their larger parrot cousins, parakeets aren’t especially loud.
They may raise their volume to get your attention, if you forgot to feed them, or if your cat gets too close to their cage, Most parakeet sounds, however, communicate contentment.
The contented warble
If you are a successful parakeet parent, the sound you will hear most often coming from your parakeet’s cage is a contented warble.
It’s the parakeet’s equivalent of a cat’s purr.
Happy parakeets will make a warbling sound when they are preening themselves when they are perched on your shoulder, when you play the music, and when they are falling asleep.
When parakeets hear music, they will make a fweeping sound as if they were trying to sing along (maybe they are)
This is a sound that parakeets don’t make when it’s quiet. They only make it when you play music for them.
When parakeets lived in the wild, they were in huge flocks that were always making noise. The only time there wasn’t noise is when there were predators lurking around the flock.
Parakeets naturally like to sing along with other birds. If there aren’t thousands of birds to sing with, they will be happy to sing along with the music. If you sing to them, sometimes they will sing along with you.
Leave music on for your parakeets when you leave them alone (and they are not sleeping). Too much silence is stressful for these birds.
ARK! ARK! ARK!
Not every sound your parakeet can make is a happy sound.
There is a loud “ARK! ARK! ARK!” sound that parakeets make when they are threatened, frightened, or just upset.
It’s the parakeet’s equivalent of “Stop it, you jerk!” This is also the sound parakeets make when they are being injured or they get caught in something.
Did you ever see the movie Mars Attacks?
In this movie, invading Martians invited to address Congress make an ack-ack-ack sound just before they laugh and vaporize the politicians.
Parakeets also vocalize a very similar sounding ack-ack-ack sound. For a parakeet, this sounds means “Ha! Ha! Fooled you!” or maybe “Look at this!”
Parakeets have a distress call. It’s a call chicks make when they are separated from their mother. It’s a call your parakeet will make when you forget to put it back into its cage, or if something happens to another bird in the cage.
If you have a sick parakeet you take to the vet, the other parakeets in the cage will make this sound until you bring the sick bird back.
In the wild, if parakeets think a bird got lost, they will make this sound to guide it back home.
And if a “lost” bird hearing this call is OK but just has other things to do, it will answer with a curt “Fweep” to let the other birds know it’s OK.
Imitating Other Birds
Parakeets often imitate the songs of other birds. They drive other birds crazy by singing their songs off-key.
It’s easier to teach your parakeet to mimic another bird’s song than it is to teach them human speech.
Parakeets love to make unusual noises. They may learn to imitate a dial tone, an alarm clock, an ambulance siren, trucks backing up, or sounds your computer makes.
There’s some parakeet somewhere that has learned almost any environmental sound.
You can teach your parakeet to speak human words if you take the time, and you are patient.
Young birds you have raised since they hatched are easier to teach than birds you bought at the pet store. Male birds are easier to teach than female bids,
If your female bird is nesting, forget about teaching her to speak human words. She will find she has better things to do.
In the next section, we’ll go over how to teach your parakeet to talk.
How to Teach Your Parakeet to Talk
To teach your parakeet to talk, you don’t have to think like a bird. You have to persuade your parakeet to think it is a really small human that lives in a cage and has feathers.
Parakeets make sounds to communicate with other parakeets. If you can convince your parakeet that it is part of the human flock, it will make an effort to talk to you.
If you have a solitary parakeet, you can put a mirror in its cage, and it will try to talk to the bird in the mirror.
If you have two or more parakeets in a cage, they will try to talk to each other. If you surround a young parakeet with humans, it will try to talk to them.
It’s easy to teach a hand-fed parakeet that is just a few weeks old, just barely ready to feed itself. That’s when it’s learning languages, and “human” is an easy option.
When to schedule your parakeet’s human speech lessons
Every parakeet needs 12 to 13 hours of sleep every night. If it gets more than 12 hours of exposure to light every day, its biological clocks will tell it that it’s early summer, and it’s time to mate. Mating and laying eggs and raising chicks capture your bird’s attention.
That’s why you should put a cover over your parakeet’s cage every night and keep it there long enough that your bird spends 12 to 13 hours in the dark. And using a bird cage cover gives you a perfect time for teaching your bird human speech.
Talk to your bird about 30 minutes every morning before you lift the cover off the bird cage.
That way, you will be getting your parakeet’s attention at the time of day it is most inclined to learn new things.
And by leaving the cover on the cage, you are making sure that your parakeet is paying attention to you rather than playing with its toy or looking around the room.
Parakeets learn by repetition
Parakeets are intelligent birds, but they do have bird brains. A bird’s brain just isn’t going to remember “To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…”
Not even the most intelligent members of the Parrot Family can perform Shakespeare.
Your parakeet, however, can learn words of two and three syllables.
Parakeets do best with hard consonant sounds like K, B, P, and T. These consonants have a vowel sound built into them. They stay in the lower registers of the parakeet’s (or a human’s voice). Your bird can learn the whole syllable at the same time if it starts with a K, B, P, or T.
That’s why it’s easy to teach a parakeet a word like “Cutie.” Or “Cuckoo.” Or “Ta-Ta!”
Parakeets have trouble with soft consonant sounds like F, S, TH, and Ha. These sounds don’t glide into the vowel after them. Birds and humans have to force their voices into a higher register to make a syllable.
Your parakeet will trouble with words like “Susie” and “Ha-ha!'”
Parakeets tend to mumble, but they also tend to speak quickly. If you dictate the one word you want them to learn slowly and precisely over and over again for 30 minutes a day, they should be able to learn it in a few weeks.
Eventually, your parakeet will make the connection between your saying a word and their saying a word.
Once they do, they will learn new words a lot faster. You can try taping yourself and letting the tape run in a loop for 30 minutes every morning before you remove the bird cage cover.
But you’ll get the best results from being physically present as you speak to your parakeet, and repeating the same word day after day until your bird learns it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching Parakeets to Talk
Q. Is there any secret for teaching your parakeet to talk?
A. Patience. You will think you are doing it wrong, but you just need to give your bird more time to learn.
Q. Are there any genius parakeets when it comes to talking?
A. You may enjoy the BBC’s video of Disco the Incredible Budgie, which is able to repeat dozens of complex phrases, such as “Never shake a baby bird That would be just absurd.”
Q, What kinds of phrases can my parakeet learn?
A. Try these:
- “I’m a baby budgie.”
- “Hey, what ya’ doin'”
- “”Hey you,”
- “Good boy.”
- “I’m a baby budgie.”
- “Good girl.”
- “I love you.”
- “Not nice.”
- “I’ll just keep talking, OK?”
Parrots can learn long phrases (maybe not as long as Hamlet’s soliloquy), but they have trouble knowing where to separate the words.
Q. Can I only teach one phrase at a time?
A. Five phrases seems to be the maximum. Once your parakeet learns these five, you can teach more. Your bird will learn faster and faster.
Q. Will every parakeet learn to talk?
A. There is a lot of individual variation. Some parakeets will never learn to talk, and other parakeets will learn in just a few weeks. Parakeets are, however, among the top breeds of talking birds.
Q. Is there an ideal age for teaching my parakeet how to talk?
A. It’s easiest to teach parakeets that are four to five months old. But you can teach parakeets of any age. It just takes longer.
Q. Can any color of parakeet learn to talk?
A. Yes. Feather color doesn’t affect speech abilities.
Q. Thirty minutes is more time than I have to teach my parakeet to talk. What’s the minimum number of repetitions that will make an impression on my bird so she learns how to say a word or phrase?
A. Bird experts recommend a bare minimum of 30 to 50 repetitions of the same word every day until your parakeet learns it.
Q. How long do I need to wait between repetitions of the word I’m teaching my parakeet?
A. Say the word once, nice and slowly. Give your parakeet a chance to repeat it. After you have waited about five seconds, say it again.
Q. Do all the parakeet experts agree that it’s a good idea to spend 30 uninterrupted minutes a day teaching my parakeet to talk?
A. There are two schools of thought. Experienced parakeet owners who have jobs and families and other responsibilities like to get the training session over in the morning, so they can go about their day.
Ornithologists and bird language experts are more likely to teach the bird for three to five minutes, and then stop to let the bird internalize the word.
They will come back in an hour for another five minutes of speech training, give the bird a break, do another teaching session, and so on.
Other articles you may also like: