Do parrots know what they’re saying or are they just repeating sounds?

2 green budgies talking on a perch
Read in 7 minutes

Scarlet-shouldered parrotlet – Gray-hooded parakeet – Mountain parakeet – Barred parakeet – Andean parakeet – Amazonian parrotlet – Monk parakeet – Tui parakeet – Yellow-chevroned – – parakeet – Cobalt-winged parakeet – Golden-winged parakeet – Black-winged parrot- -Orange-cheeked parrot – Red-billed parrot – Scaly-headed parrot – Speckle-faced parrot – Blue-headed parrot – Yellow-faced parrot – Festive parrot – Tucuman parrot – Yellow-crowned – parrot – Turquoise-fronted parrot – Mealy parrot – Orange-winged parrot – Scaly-naped parrot – Blue-winged parrotlet – Dusky-billed parrotlet – White-bellied parrot – Crimson-bellied parakeet – Green-cheeked parakeet – Santarem parakeet – ose-fronted parakeet – Black-capped parakeet – Hyacinth macaw – Peach-fronted parakeet – Dusky-headed parakeet – Nanday parakeet – Red-bellied macaw – Blue-headed macaw – Yellow-collared macaw – Blue-and-yellow macaw – Blue-throated macaw – Military macaw – Scarlet macaw – Red-and-green macaw – Red-fronted – macaw – Chestnut-fronted macaw – Blue-crowned parakeet – Red-shouldered macaw – Mitred – parakeet – White-eyed parakeet

The hypothetical is obviously who’s going to survive in the rainforest longer? A formerly captive parrot that’s never been in the rainforest or a human that’s never been in the rainforest? What’s your guess on who will survive longer?

I’d like to repeat – 99 million years of instinctual expectations.

We didn’t get involved with birds as pets until somewhere around the 15th century. That means they had a 99 million year head start and were able to survive with nothing more than their feathers, beaks and feet.

Stupid (and slow) animals simply can’t evolve over that period of time

Now let’s change continents, stream across the Pacific to Australia.

Catherine says I use this video a little too often but it just makes so many great points.

Here’s a flock of budgies numbering in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

Listening to the narration you learn that the flock acts as a giant organic being.

Search parties are sent off following kangaroos looking for the best places to graze for grass seed.

Yes seed – seed does not kill birds as stated in another Quora answer. A narrative this video fills is illustrating how where and why birds find the seeds that they need to survive.

The search parties returned to the flock and provide guidance to the newly found food.

A predator is seen but is unable to catch one single bird because of the communication and flight skills of these little animals.

After watching this video you can’t walk away without thinking that communication is happening at a level that humans will never understand.

The counterpoint to that videos this video, a human crowd doing what we consider efficiently communicating.



Now let’s break it down further. There’s communications and there’s mimicry with birds.

This is what I consider mimicry “with a purpose”



Here we have a bird that is “mimicking” other birds to attract other birds – and it works. So we have to believe that this is more of a mating strategy than simply repeating random sounds.


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.