How Can I Get My Bird to Talk?

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I truly think parrot flocks were the first form of social media. They basically don’t like to be alone and because they are social they have to somehow get the message across to the other birds. Across the wide spectrum of birds, local vocalization plays a large part in their everyday life.
Some birds in the wild imprint their chicks voices through the shell so as to differentiate their own and not end up feeding parasitic chicks left by birds like cuckoos and cowbirds, Bird calls are regularly used to influence these fluid winged societies. And make no mistake about it, your birds have the ability to communicate with you, they are not just little tape recorders (I’m old).

It’s generally thought that whales, porpoises, bats, humans and of course parrots are the only animals to have vocal communications at a complex level. When you and I speak, we use our face, our lips and our mouth to help round out sounds that are produced by our vocal cords.

Where we have a pharynx, parrots have something called a syrinx. Think kazoo – it, (the syrnix) connects where the lungs and windpipe come together. Their tongue plays a very small role in speech.

Parrots have a hard time telling the difference between “a” and “i” sounds and their brains work differently than ours too. Parrots are unique from other species of birds in that they have greater control over the “form” of their voice. Where wild species of bird calls come from nature’s engineering, parrot’s sounds rely more on many of the sounds of their environment.

Banner Mimic How Can I Get My Bird to Talk?
In the wild strong mating and group relationships are regularly solidified vocally. This is where it becomes clear on why your bird really wants to mimic you. It’s his or her way to bond with you (the mate) and the flock (family members or other people in the household)
So what are the predictability factors you should seek when setting out to teach your bird how to talk? There are none. In the wild, flock members have the same sort of diversity as people in a small town with unique interests and abilities. The one exception seems to be the Congo African Grey. And nobody knows why, but they seem to have a much higher-level ability than other parrots. (Functioning at this intellectual level also makes Greys needy for lack of a better term).

Amazons come in a very close second, smaller parrots like budgies andCockatiels also can learn to talk (watch the amazing video below). Growing up I had a next-door neighbor, Mrs. Massey with a parakeet that spoke words in four languages. Macaws and cockatoos can talk but their vocabulary tends to be more limited than the Greys and Amazons.

And there’s really no rhyme or reason as to will “any bird talk”? Even though your bird doesn’t repeat a word it doesn’t mean it doesn’t understand its meaning which by the way are two completely different thought processes for birds.

I think even though we bring home a bird with the hope that they will learn to talk over time, we eventually accept them for their overall personalities not just their ability or lack thereof, to vocalize, To encourage vocalization your overall relationship with your bird has to be strong and trusting with your bird being relaxed when he’s around you.

Remember when you first bring a bird home they don’t know who you are and they may assume you are a predator not a new flock mate. A full day of full spectrum natural or artificial sunlight in a full night of sleep a regular basis is very helpful.

Your bird can see many times better than you & I and it allows them to analyze multiple things at the same time in the field of vision and they can also sense more subtle motions. So when you start training and using the Mimic Me make sure there’s no other distractions like TVs and cell phones. 

Much like I learned in sales for many years, “how” you say it is as important, if not more so important to birds than “what” you say. Your bird should sense that he or she has your undivided attention when training them to speak. When using the Mimic Me there should be no other background noise.

Start with small words to three syllable words or phrases. Make sure you speak slowly but enthusiastically. As for the time spent, a few minutes in the morning and the early evening because birds tend to be a little more receptive at these times.

Be consistent with your words and your actions.say “Scratch your head” when scratching their head. ? “Do you want to come out”? when opening the cage door. And try naming their toys so they can relate words to the toys. The more they associate words actions, the better chance you’ll have a vocalization.

Be patient and don’t get frustrated. Stick to the plan because sometimes a bird will suddenly repeat a word that you’re working on today, two or three days from now. Reward successful mimicking immediately to reinforce vocalization. Much like clicker training, reward treats should be a single shelled nut (so as to not take too much time de-hulling it) or dry piece of fruit so the treat can be consumed rapidly and you can move on to the next lesson.

Lastly remember nothing mechanical can fully replace the physical interaction you have with your bird.

 
 
Squawk at you next week 

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Mitch Rezman CMO
Windy City Parrot, Inc
Simply Everything for Exotic Birds – Since 1993

Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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