Parrot Talking Skills
When ever I tell someone that I have a parrot, the first thing they say is “Does he talk?” In my case the answer is no. I have a Sun Conure which is a species known for their bright colors and playful attitude but not so much for their parrot talking skills.
It’s not particularly clear why parrots have developed the ability to imitate the many non-parrot sounds they hear around them. It seems to have developed as a way to either impress a mate or to grow social bonds with other birds and animals outside their own species. The ability may have originated with birds that frequently flocked with other birds of different types. Wild birds of varying kinds have been found to flock together for safety all around the world. Even if they can’t mimic each others sounds, they usually recognize each others warning calls and work as a group to spot predators.
Not all species of parrot have parrot talking abilities and even if your parrot belongs to a species known for talking, there is no guarantee that your parrot will talk. If you MUST have a parrot that talks, make sure that he or she already talks before you buy.
Virtually all parrots will mimic sounds and speech but only a handful of species are known to be really good talkers. Even though my bird doesn’t talk, he will laugh when I laugh, whisper when I whisper, and be loud when I’m loud. He also makes a horrible chewing noise when I’m eating. It almost seems like he’s making fun of the way I chew my food. What a little punk!
All parrots tend to stop talking if they think they are in a dangerous situation. This is an instinct that helps them avoid being found by predators. Unfortunately this means that even your talking parrot may not always perform for your friends if they make him feel threatened. It’s somewhat rare to find a bird that will readily talk for strangers or even in front of a video camera.
Parrots usually only talk if they have been strongly bonded to humans since birth. When they love you and consider you a part of their flock they have a natural desire to mimic your sounds.
Parrot species with the best parrot talking skills
Below is a list of 5 species that possibly have the best parrot talking talents along with YouTube videos that show them talking. Keep in mind that there are many more parrot types that can talk but these are my five favorites:
African Grey Parrots
The Congo African Grey and the Timneh African Grey are thought to be equally good talkers. They typically don’t start speaking until they are about 9 to 24 months old and they normally only talk when they are really comfortable.
When I was volunteering at the Knoxville Zoo I had the chance to meet Einstein the Congo African Grey. Einstein is probably one of the most famous parrots alive today. She’s been on Jay Leno, Animal Planet, and he even did a TED presentation where she sang happy birthday to Al Gore.
Einstein says over 100 words on cue and has a vocabulary about twice that off stage (not every word is a good word either).
Some African Greys never talk. In fact, when I was working at the Knoxville Zoo they were trying to teach two other African Greys to talk but with no success. One of them never spoke a word and the other would only speak from his cage when nobody was looking at him.
See Einstein’s Parrot Talking Skills
Budgie parakeets (or common parakeets) can be amazing talkers if properly socialized to humans.
A budgie named Puck won the Guiness Word Record for having the biggest vocabulary of any bird. He could say over 1,720 words!
Budgies usually have a raspy voice that is difficult to understand even though they may have a large vocabulary. Males talk more than females. Learn more at the “my Pet Parakeet” website.
See Peeper and his Parrot Talking skills here
Double Yellow Headed Amazons
Most Amazon Parrot species are talkers but the Double Yellow Headed Amazon seems to have the greatest parrot talking abilities. Actually they can even sing! Watch the video below and get ready to be amazed. Keep in mind that these are professionally trained birds
Parrot talking on Jay Leno
Note the woman who is there with Groucho. She is bird trainer Barbara Heidenreich. She currently sells some amazing parrot training videos that we highly recommend. She’s an amazing animal trainer who truly cares about parrots and us folks who keep them.
Quacker Parrots may be the best at parrot talking for their price. Unfortunately they are illegal in some states because they have an amazing ability to live in the wild just fine if they ever escape.
A well socialized quaker parrot will almost always learn to speak and they do it fast. Many will start talking at just 6 weeks old. Some say they are difficult to understand but let’s have you be the judge
Quaker parrot talking
These birds are great! They are calm which makes them good family birds, they can usually talk well, and they are beautiful. The males are a vibrant green and the females are purple in color (see photo at the top of the page). Here is a male talking for us here.
See Riley the Amazing Talking Parrot
There are many parrots that talk but that’s it for this parrot talking article. To learn more about each species and how well they tend to talk, select an parrot type from our Parrot Species page. For more videos see our list of Parrot Talking Videos.