Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:24 pm
Cockatiels aren’t the most talented talkers in the cockatoo family. They can learn to repeat some words and phrases but have a garbled and raspy delivery that’s difficult to understand.
Male cockatiels are likelier to talk than females. That’s because males rely on imitating a female’s chirps, trills, whistles, and songs to court a mate successfully. Male cockatiels are also more outgoing and make more effort to interact with owners during speech training.
Cockatiels start talking at 8 months old but start speech training earlier. Newly-fledged cockatiels are at their most curious and more willing to absorb new information.
Forming a strong bond with a cockatiel is essential to speech training, as the bird must want to impress you. Regular, consistent coaching will be required, teaching the cockatiel one basic word at a time.
The average cockatiel will have a limited English vocabulary and won’t understand what it’s saying. A cockatiel is unlikely to learn more than 25 words, even when willing to learn to talk.
Can Cockatiels Learn to Speak?
Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) can speak but aren’t the parrot family’s most gifted talkers.
With patience and regular training, you can teach a cockatiel a handful of words and phrases but don’t expect a lengthy interaction based on human speech.
According to PLoS One, cockatiels find it easier to imitate melodies than words. A cockatiel will happily whistle along to a tune it hears on the radio.
Do Cockatiels Talk More Than Parakeets?
Budgerigars are more accomplished talkers than cockatiels. They’ll imitate sounds they hear excitedly and are considerably more conversational with human words.
Cockatiels are naturally quieter and must be actively encouraged to talk to you. They may whistle, chatter, and chirp, but speaking doesn’t come naturally.
Do Cockatiels Speak Clearly?
Don’t expect a clear, crisp conversation when a cockatiel learns to talk.
The speaking voice of a cockatiel is a little raspy and garbled. A cockatiel’s speech won’t be mistaken for a human or skilled talking parrot like an Indian ringneck.
You’ll likely understand what the bird tries to say if you’ve been training a cockatiel to mimic words. However, a stranger may be confused by the cockatiel’s words.
Do Only Male Cockatiels Talk?
Male cockatiels are likelier to learn how to talk than females. This doesn’t mean female cockatiels are incapable of speech, but males learn sooner. There are several explanations:
- Male cockatiels are more outgoing than females.
- Due to their gregarious nature, males are likelier to attempt to please owners by mimicking speech.
- A male cockatiel that wants to mate with a female will imitate songs and whistles made by a partner. This means that males are keener listeners and instinctively memorize sounds.
If you want to increase the chances of a chatty pet cockatiel, adopt a male.
Look for a solid black plumage below the wings rather than a barred pattern, as this is a leading form of sexual dimorphism between the genders. Males also have more yellow on their foreheads.
How Old Are Cockatiels When They Start Talking?
Most cockatiels will vocalize at the age of 8 – 10 months. Some cockatiels may sing and speak 3 months after hatching, but whistling and trilling are more common when a bird is young.
Although a cockatiel is unlikely to be chatty in its first few months of life, this is the ideal time to commence speech training. A cockatiel is most impressionable when aged 3-6 months.
Can An Older Cockatiel be Taught to Speak?
Teaching an older parrot to speak is more challenging than undertaking the training while the bird is young. As cockatiels aren’t naturally skilled talkers, teaching a senior bird’s even more difficult.
If a cockatiel has never shown interest in talking, especially at the age when training is recommended, you’re unlikely to ever get the bird to chat.
Older cockatiels have established a routine and lifestyle and see no benefit to learning how to talk.
Will Two Cockatiels Speak to Each Other?
As speech isn’t a natural behavior in cockatiels and is reserved for human interaction, 2 or more birds that share a cage won’t talk to each other. Cockatiels communicate with sounds and body language:
|Banging the beak on the cage.||I am bored and would like some attention.|
|Dilating or pinning the eyes.||I am agitated – stay away from me.|
|Drooping the tail.||I don’t feel well.|
|Dropping the head.||I feel great, and I am excited.|
|Hanging upside down.||This is my territory, and I plan to defend it.|
|Hopping from foot to foot.||I feel great, and I am excited.|
|Plucking healthy feathers.||I feel stressed or unhappy.|
|Ruffling feathers or shaking wings.||I am angry and may attack anybody in my way.|
|Stomping the feet.||I want to be left alone and am guarding my territory.|
|Wagging the tail.||I feel great, and I am excited.|
Check the cockatiel’s crest to learn about the bird’s emotional state. An angry or frightened cockatiel will flatten its crest against its head, while a contented bird will raise it to an erect position.
Cockatiels that spend time together will form a strong bond, potentially at the expense of their relationship with their owners.
How Do You Teach A Cockatiel To Speak?
Teaching a cockatiel to speak can be a lengthy and frustrating experience. You’ll need to be patient when teaching cockatiels to use human words, and there are no guarantees of success, especially with females.
If you’re prepared to put the time and effort into training the cockatiel, follow and repeat these steps:
Form A Bond
Before speech training, cockatiels bond together and earn their trust. If a cockatiel is eager to please you, it’s far likelier to make an effort to speak and not grow distracted.
Cockatiels are affectionate by nature, so you should be able to form a bond if you meet its needs. If a cockatiel chirps happily, lifts its crest, and wags its tail, it’ll likely be receptive to training.
Choose a Word to Teach
Focus on one word at a time while teaching a cockatiel to talk. The bird may take a while to master speech, and the first few attempts will likely be garbled and incomprehensible.
Speak in a high-pitched voice, and repeat the word you wish to teach repeatedly. Say the word, wait for the cockatiel to repeat it, then use it again. Repeat this process until the cockatiel learns the sound.
You can alternate between different languages when choosing a cockatiel to speak. Parrots don’t understand what they’re saying, so the language is irrelevant.
The International Journal of Research Science and Management details an example of a cockatiel speaking Persian, suggesting these birds will repeat any sound if trained.
Check for A Reaction
When teaching a cockatiel a new word, monitor the bird’s reaction.
Cockatiels respond better to some words than others. If the bird enjoys the experience of saying a word, it is likelier to respond positively to the training and repeat the sound.
If a cockatiel widens its eyes and raises its crest, this suggests it’s interested in what you have to say. If the cockatiel turns its head and shows no interest, try a couple more times before trying a different word.
Reward The Cockatiel
Rewarding a cockatiel is a fundamental part of speech training.
Parrots respond well to positive interactions, so ensure it’s motivated to continue learning. Always praise and reward a cockatiel for any attempt to speak, regardless of its success.
How Many Words Can a Cockatiel Learn?
Even an eager-to-please cockatiel will be limited to a handful of words. Most cockatiels can learn up to 25 words, although some more gifted talkers can learn 100 words.
What Words Are Easy for Cockatiels to Learn?
Cockatiels struggle to enunciate many words, so keep speech training basic. 1-2 syllable words are the most straightforward to learn and can be chained together into sentences. Examples include:
- “Good morning.”
- “I’m pretty.”
- “Kiss me.”
A cockatiel will also be able to learn and use its name but give it a short and simple moniker.
Do Cockatiels Understand the Words They Use?
Cockatiels don’t understand the meaning of words and phrases. When a cockatiel speaks to you, it does so because it finds the noise pleasurable and enjoys your positive reaction.
Cockatiels are popular birds due to their amiable nature and diminutive size, but consider their limited talking ability if you want a chatty pet bird. Many other species are better talkers than cockatiels.