How to Teach a Parakeet to Talk
Training Your Bird to Talk
Tips on Teaching Your Pet to Speak
- Buy your parakeet when it is very young.
- Buy one bird. If you get two, they will bond with each other and not with you. Of course, if you are gone most of the time, your pet's loneliness can be helped by getting another bird, but don’t expect them to communicate with you.
- Encourage bonding right away by offering a hand and then a shoulder to sit upon.
- Repeat phrases consistently.
- Do not use a recording unless your purpose is only to hear them speak and not to teach them how to communicate. Communicative birds are much more interesting than birds that don't have a clue what they are saying.
- Associate words with triggers. My bird Marilyn worked off triggers. She would run back and forth on her perch and say, "Wanna come out!" when she wanted out of her cage. She would say, "Are you hungry?" when her dish was empty. She would repeat phrases to her friend in the mirror ("Zippity doo daaaa, sexy bird!") and get especially vocal in the mornings (she related to robins and whippoorwills).
- One last tip: If you want a friendly bird that you can show off to everyone, do not use offensive language around your bird. EVER.
My Parakeet Stories: Baby and Marilyn
In my opinion, budgies are the best kind of bird to make part of your family. Training your pet to talk is all about personality, bonding, and repetition.
Baby's First Word Was "Meow"
I received my first parakeet as a Christmas gift when I was 17 years old. He was just old enough to be on his own, so he bonded well and learned his first word very quickly: He meowed. I had a cat that wanted to "bond" with my bird, too. That is why I hung his cage from my ceiling—to keep the cat from "bonding."
Therefore, the cat would sit under the cage or right outside the window and meow . . . for hours and hours. She would sit there, regardless of whether I put food in her dish. She would sit there in spite of being chased away dozens of times throughout the day. She would just sit there and "meow." I had to lock her in the bathroom when I took Baby out of his cage. I would repeat phrases and hold him to my cheek. I would carry him around on my shoulder and talk to him.
"Hello, Baby!" I would repeat.
"Meow,” was the response.
"Want a treat!" I would say, holding a piece of apple in front of him.
It took him one week to learn to meow. It took him five more weeks to say, "Hello Baby!" Why was that? My cat was a better trainer than I was, I suppose.
Within a year, Baby was the unfortunate victim of a pet sitter who did not have a clue what she was doing. I have to take some blame as I should not have placed the responsibility on someone who did not have experience or feel comfortable with birds.
Marilyn Had a Huge Vocabulary
It took seven more years before I felt confident enough to get another bird. We had thought "she" was a "he," and we had purposely bought a male because we had heard that males were the only ones that would speak. But this budgie was a young female, and—thankfully—what we had heard was wrong.
I carried her home in her little box and put her directly into the huge cage my husband had put together for her. By this time, we had three small children, and we all took part in bonding and training her to speak. Of course, the first phrase Marilyn (then called "Merlin") popped out was from my husband:
"Sexy bird!" she would declare and then make kissing noises.
Years later, our budgie had a huge vocabulary, and not all of the words she learned came from us trying to teach her. She would surprise us at least once a week with a new phrase.
"The timer went off!" she declared when the oven would buzz.
"Take a shower and brush your teeth!" she would remind the children when they came downstairs in the morning.
"Excuse me!" she would shout when someone belched.
She loved people who were afraid of birds. We kept her cage open most of the time, and when we had unexpected company, she absolutely refused to go inside. She would perch on heads and declare her love instead, and the more afraid they were, the more she loved them.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.