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: BirdChannel.com’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.