If you are considering getting a talking bird as a pet, you should find out more about the adequate accessories and food for parakeets. Parakeets are some of the most popular and beloved pet birds in the world, thanks to their impressive look and intelligence. However, there are many other talking birds with unique characteristics and speaking abilities.
Talking birds have fascinated people since ancient times and people have always been interested in studying these birds and trying to develop their language. Certain birds’ ability to mimic human speech is one of the greatest wonders of the natural world. Find out more about what makes them special and what some of the most impressive talking birds in the world are.
What are talking birds and types of talking birds
All birds make specific sounds and communicate in various ways, but talking birds are the ones that can actually mimic our speech. It is still debatable whether talking birds simply repeat in a mechanical way certain words or phrases or they are capable of understanding this language and communicating. Several studies have been done regarding their cognitive capacity.
The two categories of birds that are considered talking birds because they can learn and reproduce human language are parrots and songbirds. Birds from these two categories can be taught by their owner to mimic the human voice and this was a common practice even in Ancient history. Throughout centuries, different talking birds have been adopted as pets and trained to speak.
An important thing to note regarding talking birds is that this mimicking ability is so powerful that it’s very easily picked up and developed even by wild birds. On one hand, if pet birds that have been trained by their owners are introduced in a natural environment, their wild counterparts will start mimicking them and thus learn to reproduce words as well.
On the other hand, some wild talking birds can learn to mimic words simply by interacting on a regular basis with people, even though they remain in their natural environment. Therefore, this unique ability to reproduce the way people speak is not limited to captive birds. However, pet birds give us the possibility to understand them better and develop even further their ability to speak.
There are a lot of types of talking birds and parrots are considered the most intelligent. Some of the ones from the parrot group are the macaws, the yellow-headed amazon, the yellow-crowned amazon, the blue-fronted amazon, the grey parrots, the yellow-crested cockatoo, the common parakeet, the monk parakeet, the Australian king parrot, and the Indian ring-neck parakeet.
Songbirds are also fascinating talking birds. Even though only parrots have been linked to cognitive abilities, some species of songbirds are able to imitate a lot of different sounds, including human speech, in a fascinating way. The hill mynah is the most famous talking songbird. Starlings, mockingbirds, and lyrebirds can also mimic human speech.
Even ravens and other types of crows can display a wide area of mimicking capabilities if they live in captivity, where they can be trained and have regular human contact.
The African Gray and famous Congo African gray parrots
The African Gray parrots are seen as some of the most intelligent birds, who are not only able to mimic human language to a great extent but also understand the context and communicate in a conscious way. They are the most famous talking birds in the parrot group. The most common pet birds in this group are the Timneh parrot (Psittacus timneh) and the Congo parrot (Psittacus erithacus).
As their name suggests, they are mostly gray. The Congo have red tails and black beaks, while the Timneh have maroon tails and tan beaks. They have a high level of intelligence, comparable to that of a toddler, and they also require a lot of interaction. That is why they are suitable for people who have enough time to spend with them and are serious about training their pet bird to talk.
With adequate training and regular practice, an African gray can learn hundreds of words and even become able to have some type of dialogue. ‘Alex’ is the first talking bird that became famous worldwide and actually challenged the scientific community. Alex was an African gray that became the object of scientific study due to the fact that his owner was an animal psychologist.
Irene Pepperberg published her findings in 1999 and aimed to demonstrate that birds are intelligent and that their abilities extend far beyond simple mimicking. Alex was able to identify objects and materials, make differentiations based on color or category and have two-way communication. His vocabulary of 100 words was not as extensive as other famous birds’ vocabulary.
However, Alex, the parrot became famous all over the world as the living proof of parrots’ intelligence and cognitive abilities. Although he passed away when he was 31 years old, which is young for a parrot, Alex had already displayed the intelligence level of a 5-year old child and the emotional level of a 2-year old. According to his owner, he would have developed even further.
The talking bird with the largest vocabulary is also an African gray. ‘N’kisi’ had an outstanding 950 words vocabulary. More than that, he was able to form complete sentences and use words in adequate contexts. Another remarkable accomplishment of N’kisi was his ability to understand a photograph and combine different words to describe something in a meaningful way.
‘Einstein’ is a famous contemporary African gray parrot, who lives at the Knoxville Zoo and is trained by Stephanie White. With a popular social media profile, several show appearances and even TED talks, Einstein is undoubtedly a worldwide famous talking bird. According to her trainer, she knows approximately 200 words and is best known for her ability to mimic all sorts of unusual sounds.
The parakeet and a famous budgie
Parakeets are, by far, the most popular pet birds in the world, because they are small and easier to take care of, but also lovely and talkative. Parakeets are also known as budgerigars or budgies. They are only six to eight inches, come in many vivid colors and can live up to 15 years. They are known to have very lively personalities and can be very friendly.
Although parakeets are not as impressive as other exotic species as far as vocabulary and speaking abilities go, they can be trained by their owners and learn not only several commands but also how to talk. It’s important to allow your parakeet to become familiar with your presence and with the surroundings, in order to develop trust. Approach them gently and be patient.
When it comes to parakeets, there is no guarantee that they will learn how to talk. Male birds have greater odds of learning and it’s best if they are the only bird in the house. You need to develop a close relationship with them, based on trust, before trying to train them. Budgies tend to pick up different sounds in their surroundings anyway, such as the dog’s barking.
Parakeets can be trained to learn specific words. Try to hold them directly in front of you, on your finger, while repeating the word you want them to learn. With patience and regular training sessions, your pet bird could turn out to be an excellent talking bird. It all depends on their own personality and their abilities could be even greater than what you expected.
This happened in Disco’s case. Apparently just a regular yellow and green parakeet, in a regular household, he turned out to be an amazing talking bird who quickly won the hearts of people all over the world. A contemporary Internet sensation, ‘Disco’ the parakeet was only 4 months old when he was adopted by the Boltons in Rochester, New York.
When they began to teach Disco his first words, they never imagined he would eventually know 80 phrases and several other song lyrics and sounds. This apparently common parakeet, living in a typical family, became extremely popular thanks to his funny song renditions and unexpected phrases, such as ‘What seems to be the problem, officer?’ and many others.
Unfortunately, Disco the parakeet passed away unexpectedly, but his legacy remains proof of parakeets’ impressive ability to learn how to talk, even without professional training. Therefore, your pet bird could also impress you with his or her speech, if you are a good teacher.