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The Bare Basics

Parrots are amongst the easiest birds to teach how to talk.  Some varieties tend to learn more easily than others but all are a delight. A female cockatiel is however the most unlikely to mimic you. Should you have one and she does talk, it will be a rare event.

If you have a parrot, macaw, cockatoo or parakeet and it has already started making sounds and is young, your chances are better that it is teachable. Because your bird is a very sociable creature and would originally have learned to communicate in the wild, it is a good idea to spend a lot of time with it and build a relationship. It will see you as a member of its flock and hopefully begin to learn your communication patterns.

Learning by Association

Because birds learn by association do not leave recorded messages near it and expect that to do the trick. Learning by connecting words to actions also involves teaching words enthusiastically or with emphasis. The first word that all humans generally teach their pets is their name. Repeating your bird’s name enthusiastically is the beginning.  Every time you see him you will greet him with “hullo Gemini”. Your pet will soon associate your behavior with his name. Again, when leaving the room, say “goodbye Gemini”. When feeding your parrot teach him the names of his different treats such as nuts, seeds and fruits. When he begins making noises that sound as if he is imitating you, repeat the word you think he might be saying enthusiastically and reward him with a treat. 

Don’t be over ambitious though as this may confuse your bird. Start with one word and when you think he has mastered that, move onto the next. Parrots and their talking counterparts are highly intelligent and will respond to positive reinforcement. If you do decide to teach your bird bad language, make sure you remember to put his cage in another room when the preacher or your mother-in-law comes to visit as they have a tendency to learn words that are spoken with intent.

What is the Best Time and Place to Teach your Bird to Talk?

Besides spending time together in your daily routine, you can set aside time in a quiet area where there are no distractions several times a day. Place him on a T stand and repeat the word you want him to learn. Because there is no association involved in this situation, give him a treat every time he makes any kind of noise. If he forgets a word you have previously taught him this can simply be rectified by reminding him of that word several times over. Should you wish him to forget a specific word then a lack of reaction on your part when he does say it, will teach him to not use it. As with everything, teaching takes time so be patient and reward his achievements enthusiastically.

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