If you are looking for an unconventional pet that will provide many years of companionship and love, a talking bird may be right for you. Our Kingman vets share some of their favorite talking bird species.
Which birds can talk?
If you are looking for a pet who will greet you with a warm 'hello darling' as you walk through the door, a talking bird may be just the pet you're looking for. That said, not all talking birds have the same capacity for speech and some may be a little too loud for your liking, so it's important to do your research before purchasing a talking bird.
That said, birds don't just learn to speak all by themselves. Teaching a bird to talk will take patience and persistence as well as lots of love, care and time together. And it's important to note that some birds will never learn to speak.
Which birds are the best talkers?
Birds do not have vocal cords as humans do. In fact, your bird's voice is produced the same way as songbirds sing. So think of your bird's voice as their song for you.
When choosing which bird species is right for you, you should also be aware that bird voices can range from beautiful and soothing to loud and shrieking! If you live in an apartment with thin walls you may want to pay particular attention to what the species you're considering sounds like.
Are parrots the only birds that talk?
While parrots are probably best known for their ability to mimic the human voice, not all parrots will be able to learn to talk, and not all talking birds are parrots.
Mynah birds, crows, ravens, and starlings all have the ability to mimic the human voice to varying degrees and you can find loads of examples on YouTube that will keep you smiling.
What are the best-talking birds?
Parrots are the most common and brightly colored of talking birds. These intelligent and charming creatures are sure to provide years of companionship and chatter - if you're willing to invest in training them and keeping them healthy and happy.
One extremely important point to note if you are considering purchasing a parrot, these birds can have a very long lifespan! Depending on the species you choose, some parrots can be expected to live for 50 years or more!
That said, if you do your research and find the right species to fit your lifestyle you'll have a loyal friend who will continually charm, amuse and entertain. Each breed will have its quirks and different personalities, so here are a few highlights to get you started.
Considered by many to be the smartest of the talking birds, the African grey parrot can expand its vocabulary of hundreds of words. These birds are known for their exceptional understanding and imitation of human speech.
The African Grey's ability to build their vocabulary will depend on their relationship to their owner, as they tend to attach to only one person. They are able to learn from the different voices and sounds that surround them regularly, and they're even intelligent enough to make different sounds to throw off predators. Plenty of love and treats will help them quickly improve their ability to talk.
Double Yellow Head Amazon
At about 14 - 16 inches in length, this medium-sized, strikingly bright-colored parrot holds the distinction of being one of the most popular pet species of the Amazon parrot group. An affectionate pet, they are intelligent and will soak up your attention, so beware that this beauty will require loads of love and attention.
It boasts an incredible ability to mimic human voices (even opera singing) and has a love for songs. You two will make some beautiful music together. A caveat for this bird: It’s a boisterous, noisy bird that will often engage in screaming sessions twice a day, at dawn and dusk. Though these are normal, they can be startling and last longer if the bird becomes bored due to a lack of mental stimulation or attention.
Also affectionately called the budgie or parakeet, this bird can make a great pet and is capable of learning several songs and phrases. Don’t let its small size fool you; budgies have broken world records for the largest bird vocabulary, although not all birds in the species have great potential and vocabulary will vary among individual birds.
They are very smart, social birds who enjoy practicing chatting with their caretakers. You’ll find they tend to imitate words that their owners frequently use. Both females and males can imitate human speech, though male birds appear to be better at speaking words in the right tone.
Known for their ability to mimic human speech and repeat words that they hear around them in high quality, some parrots will even learn and entire song and serenade you with it. Both males and females have charming voices and characteristics.
These birds are typically gentle and friendly, thrive on socialization with caretakers and are not usually excessively boisterous or noisy.
Indian Ringneck Parakeet
With a gift for learning longer phrases in addition to shorter words, Indian Ringneck Parakeets are notorious talkers and clever birds that can build an extensive vocabulary. Although they are most likely to speak in their own high-pitched “bird voice” rather than mimic human voices. Many are able to learn dozens or hundreds of words.
Provided they are properly socialized and handled daily by their caretakers, Indian Ringneck Parakeets can be charming pets who love learning new tricks (think waving hello with a foot).
How much does a talking bird cost?
Keep in mind that birds require a significant commitment and investment to keep them healthy and happy. Purchasing a bird can cost anywhere between $20 (for a baby budgie) and $5,000 (for a mature macaw).
It is also extremely important to research the location you are purchasing the bird from. Many species of birds such as the Double Yellow Head Amazon are endangered in their native homeland and some are smuggled across the border in terrible conditions. You will have your bird for many years, so taking your time to check out where the bird you are considering has come from is a great first step in becoming a responsible bird owner.
Why should you consider adopting a talking bird?
Due to the lifespan of birds, and the amount of care, space and attention, they require there are a range of talking birds being cared for by non-profit rehoming agencies. Many birds awaiting adoption have not been abused but have been well-loved and cared for. Often these birds have outlived their first owners and need a new home, although many have been surrendered because of family circumstances.
Reputable bird rehoming agencies will also help you to find the right bird for your lifestyle and skill level. Their volunteers and experts get to know the birds and are able to provide you with insights into the individual bird's personality.
For more information on how to choose the right bird for your household, visit our Exotic Pets page.