In the wild birds are social animals that come together in large flocks. They do not talk in the way humans do but they communicate to share the most important information on how to survive.
While wild birds can talk to their peers, pet birds can behave very differently. Not all pet birds can or want to talk to their favorite human.
In this article, we’ll explore why birds can talk and how to train them. And we take a closer look at 15 different types of talking birds.
Why Do Some Birds Talk?
The reason why birds can produce speech similar to that of a human is that their brain structure is similar to that of a human brain.
The two vital parts in the brain responsible for speech are the cortex and the cerebellum.
The cortex is responsible for sensory information, perception, and memory as well as language. On the other hand, the cerebellum manages motor functions.
Both these brain parts work together in sync, and allow the birds to talk.
The cerebellum and cortex are connected by a network of nerves that transfer information at a high speed.
Some researchers suggested that parrots have particularly strong nerve highways that allow them to talk like a human.
However, it was discovered that birds have a slightly different way of transferring this information.
Researchers also found that talking birds have more white and gray matter covering the surface of the cerebellum, which gives them greater abilities to imitate human speech.
How Do Birds Talk Without Vocal Cords?
But birds don’t have vocal cords so how do they manage to speak?
It’s true. Birds don’t have any of the usual things we humans use to produce speech, such as teeth, lips, and vocal cords.
This is what makes it so surprising that birds can talk. But the answer is quite simple. Birds don’t speak. They simply mimic sounds they can hear.
While birds don’t have vocal cords, they have a vocal organ in their breast. This fluid-filled cavity sits within the spinal cord and closes to the brain.
Each branch of this vocal organ, called a syrinx, has a valve that works independently. This allows the bird to make different sounds by changing the depth and shape of the cavity.
Do Birds Understand Humans?
Although birds are excellent at mimicking human speech, they don’t understand the actual meaning of words or sentences.
It’s suggested that birds who have lived with their owner for a long time can gain some awareness but that is associated more with behavior rather than understanding the meaning of what is said.
For example, when you enter a room and say “good morning” to the bird, then the bird will associate the “good morning” with you coming into the room.
15 Bird Species That Talk
There are a large number of bird species that can mimic human speech.
From different parrot species to the blue and yellow macaw, let’s take a look at some of the most talkative and social birds.
1. Amazon Parrots
One of the most intelligent and beautiful birds in the world, Amazons are well known for their talking abilities.
They are truly social and loyal birds, and at the same time, Amazons are very calm.
Most Amazon parrots are green, and they measure up to 15 inches, with a weight of 25 ounces.
Amazon parrots can live up to 50 years or more in the right environment.
2. Indian Ringneck Parakeets
Ringnecks are usually the go-to choice for people who are looking for a pet bird that talks. Their medium size and beautiful feathers make them great pets.
Ringnecks measure around 16 inches in length and they can live for around 30 years.
When they are handled in the right way and receive a good amount of attention, an Indian Ring-neck parakeet can be the perfect addition to a family.
3. African Gray Parrots
One of the most popular parrot species, the African gray parrot is probably best known for its ability to talk with an extensive vocabulary.
At 13 inch length from beak to tail, these pet parrots are a little shorter than some other talking birds. However, they can reach an impressive lifespan of up to 75 years.
Their gray coat and attractive white edging make them also very nice to look at.
4. Quaker Parrots
Quakers are one of the smaller parrot species, measuring just about 12 inches. These parrots are often used for breeding because they are easy to care for and are very friendly.
The Quaker parrot is a very sociable bird, and they love interacting with humans. They are extremely smart and learn quickly.
Their lifespan can vary with how much attention and care you give them, but typically Quaker parrots can live between 20 and 30 years.
Parakeets are small birds that are commonly found all over the world. They are mostly green in color and they measure around 7 inches in length, weighing around 1 ounce.
Parakeets are highly social animals and they enjoy being part of the family. They are very playful and active, and they like to interact with people.
Although parakeets do take a lot of practice and patience, they can become excellent talkers.
6. Hill Myna
Hill mynas are native to India and Southeast Asia. They are considered one of the smartest birds in the world.
These birds are small in size, measuring only 6 inches in length. They weigh less than 2 pounds and they are mainly green in color. These intelligent birds can live for up to 25 years.
Hill mynas have a very sweet personality and they love to play with people. They are very curious and they will try anything new.
This makes them ideal for teaching them how to talk.
Cockatiels are another type of parrot that can speak. They are not as common as other parrots, but they are still quite popular.
These birds are also called Conures, and they are native to Australia. They measure around 9 inches long, and they weigh around 3 pounds.
They are mostly green in color, and their tails are tipped with black. Cockatiels are very affectionate and energetic birds.
They are very smart and they love to learn new things so teaching them how to speak will be great fun for Cockatiels.
8. Blue-Fronted Amazon
Blue-fronted Amazons are native to South America. They are one of the larger parrot species, measuring 15 inches long and weighing around 5 pounds.
Blue-fronted Amazons can live an impressive 100 years. However, this depends on the care they receive. Most of these birds typically live around 40 years.
They are primarily blue and they have a redhead. The blue-fronted Amazon has a very loud voice and it loves to sing.
They are very social and they love to interact with people. Teaching your parrot to talk will be a wonderful experience for both of you.
9. Yellow-Crowned Amazon
Yellow-crowned Amazons are also from South America. They are similar to blue-fronted Amazons, but they are slightly bigger.
They are usually around 13 inches long and weigh around 4 pounds. They are mostly yellow with a red crown.
The yellow-crowned Amazon is very friendly and it enjoys playing with people. It will even imitate human speech.
Similar to the blue-fronted Amazon, these birds can also reach an impressive age of 100 years.
10. Yellow-Naped Amazon
Yellow-naped Amazons are natives from Central and South America. They are smaller than the previous two varieties, measuring only 10 inches in length and weighing around 2 pounds.
They are mainly yellow and they have white wings. They can live for up to 60 years in human care.
Yellow-naped Amazons are very friendly and they love to interact. Teaching your bird to talk can be a great experience for him or her.
11. Double Yellow Head Amazon
Just like all Amazon birds, double Yellow Head Amazons are native to South America. They can grow up to 17 inches in length and they weigh around 1 pound.
They are mainly orange in color and they have two yellow heads. These pet birds are very sociable and they enjoy interacting with people as well as other birds.
So teaching your bird can be a great part of the play and spending time together. They learn quickly to be expert talkers.
12. Severe Macaw
Macaws are native to South America and are considered to be one of the largest parrots. They are about 20 inches in length and can weigh up to 6 pounds.
Severe macaws are mostly brownish and they have large eyes. They have a very loud voice and they love to make noise.
Severe macaws are extremely intelligent and they enjoy learning something new. So teaching your bird to talk can help him to become more confident.
Cockatoos are native to Australia and New Guinea. They are small parrots that measure between 7 and 12 inches in length and they weigh between 0.5 and 3 pounds.
These cockatoos are mostly green in color and their feathers are soft and fluffy. They have a tail that is longer than their body.
These birds are very intelligent and they love to explore things. Their temperament is calm and warm by nature, which makes them great companions and fantastic allies in your quest to teach your bird to talk.
14. Pet Birds That Talk: Parrotlets
Parrotlets are not parrots; however, they do come from the same family. The parrotlet has a much shorter tail than the parrot.
This tiny little parrot weighs less than half a pound and measures just over 8 inches in length.
They are mostly green in color with a black head and they have a bright yellow bill. They are very sweet-natured, and they are very social animals.
Parrotlets love to play and they will mimic sounds you make. This means that if you want to teach your bird to speak, then this type of parrot would be perfect.
15. European Starling
The starling is a common house bird found throughout Europe and parts of Asia. It is also known as the “robin” due to its similar appearance to the robin.
It is a medium-sized bird that is usually dark gray. Its legs are long and thin while its feet are round and webbed.
Starlings are generally quiet but when they get excited, they can be quite noisy. They are good at imitating sounds and they can even imitate words.
Starlings love to eat seeds and insects so they are excellent pets for children who love to feed them. Teaching your bird to speak can be a fun activity for both of you.
How To Train A Bird To Talk
You may already have a feathery friend and would like him to talk. There are a few things you can do to train your bird to talk to you.
If you do not have a bird yet, you must be aware that the quality and quantity of a bird’s ability to speak can vary with each species and the bird’s personality.
Some birds simply choose not to talk and you may have to accept this
Get To Know Your Bird
As we have learned, not all bird species can talk, so if you have a bird that can’t talk you need to focus on working with it differently.
However, if you do have a bird that’s able to mimic human speech, you should try to find out as much about the species as possible.
Carefully observe your bird and get to know his character. This will need a little bit of time and patience but it can help a lot when you are trying to teach your bird to talk.
Building A Bond
Just like with dogs and cats, you need to build a relationship with your bird to help him learn.
Birds that can speak are typically very social animals, so shaping a connection with your feathery friend shouldn’t be too difficult.
Another good reason why you should spend some quality time with your bird is so he can get to know your voice.
Once the bird trusts you and knows your voice, he will become more confident and comfortable to mimic your words.
It doesn’t take much to build a relationship with your bird. Spend some time with him and play. You should provide some toys and games that offer mental stimulation.
It’s also a good idea to handle your bird daily, and give him a treat now and then. This will help the bird associate you with something positive.
Start With Simple Words
When you feel the bond between you and your bird is strong enough, you can start training him.
Begin with one simple word like “Okay” or “Hello”. You should hold the bird relatively close to your mouth so you have his full attention.
Keep on repeating your word slowly and clearly so the bird can understand it.
You must do this only for a few minutes. Birds don’t have a long attention span so they get bored very quickly.
After a short period, you can increase the complexity of your word by adding another syllable.
For example, instead of saying “okay”, say “okay-kay”. Repeat this several times until your bird imitates your words.
The best thing to remember here is that repetition is key.
Of course, you want the bird to do something, but the training process should be a fun thing to do for you as well as your bird.
You can make the training sessions more fun by offering your bird a treat or some affection as a reward.
Be mindful though, when the bird refuses to do anything, you should not offer a reward.
Once you have made a start, it’s a good idea to give your bird a range of sounds to listen to and repeat. This helps avoid boredom.
You can even sing the word or phrase. As this imitates the bird’s natural environment, he is more likely to mimic you then.
It can be difficult to offer a variety of sounds, so another good idea is to play different recordings where the words you want to teach the birds are used.