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Talking typically refers to pet birds mimicking human speech.


The first question people usually ask parrot owners is if their pet birds can “talk.” Used in this manner, one can assume they are asking if the bird says human words. However, whether or not parrots speak the human language, they all speak “parrot” quite fluently.


There are several species of birds that can mimic various sounds, such as mockingbirds and lyrebirds. Many, like the corvids (crows, jays, magpies and ravens) and European starlings can also mimic human speech. Ornithologists theorize the purpose of this talent is to establish the age and strength of a bird, enhancing its potential as a mate. After all, a bird that has lived long enough to have learned to mimic many sounds is obviously healthy and vigorous. Experts theorize that pet parrots might learn to reproduce human speech in an effort to fit into their artificial “flock” of people.


While speech in a parrot can be amusing, the potential for talking should never be the only reason someone purchases a pet parrot. These intelligent and long-lived creatures are messy, loud and destructive. If talking ability is the only reason for wanting a parrot, this will not counterbalance the aggravation.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Behavior Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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Reader Comments
What do you do if one of your birds speaks "people" and it constantly disparages one of the other birds with hate speech? I think my parrot (African Grey) is racist and hates birds that are green because it knows the name of my green bird (named Emerald), but when I'm seemingly out of earshot it will call it Greenie and will say mean things to it. I don't know how to solve this problem.
Alvin, Crappenschnitzel
Posted: 1/21/2014 12:45:54 PM
my cockatiel is named jackpot and has been with me since he was 4 months old. he is now 12 years old and speaks about 50 words and makes sentences. he is the love of my life and in great health.
eileen, margate, FL
Posted: 2/2/2011 9:20:35 PM
Any bird I ever had talked "parrot" fluently and one spoke "people".
Elaine, Darien, IL
Posted: 10/1/2010 8:32:57 AM
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