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Are Cockatiels Good Talkers? (Number of Words + Voice Clarity)

Last Updated on February 8, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Some cockatiels learn 10 to 25 words, while others never repeat what humans say. A cockatiel’s speaking voice is squeaky and whistly, so it won’t be mistaken for a human.

Cockatiels aren’t the best talkers in the cockatoo family (Cacatuidae). Like all parrots, cockatiels don’t understand what they say. Their words are just mimicry, but you can provide contextual understanding.

Cockatiels start talking at 8 months old but start speech training earlier. They’re most receptive to new information when they’re young. Once cockatiels enjoy making bird sounds, they may never speak.

According to PLoS One, cockatiels are more inclined to imitate sounds and melodies than words. This means a cockatiel is likelier to whistle a tune it likes or repeat the beep from a microwave oven.

Forming a strong bond with a cockatiel is essential, as it must want to impress you with its new skills. Regular, consistent coaching is required, and teach the cockatiel one word at a time.

Male vs. Female Cockatiel Talking Ability

Male cockatiels are likelier to learn how to talk than females. This doesn’t mean female cockatiels are incapable of speech, as both sexes can speak. There are several explanations:

  • Male cockatiels are more outgoing than females.
  • Due to their gregarious nature, males are likelier to want to please owners by mimicking speech.
  • A male cockatiel that wants to mate will imitate songs and whistles made by a partner.

Adopt a male to increase the likelihood of getting a chatty pet cockatiel.

how old are cockatiels when they start talking?

Age Cockatiels Start Talking

Cockatiels start making sounds just 3 months after hatching. If you adopt a pair, they’ll likely be disinterested in human vocabulary and communicate exclusively in bird vocalizations.

Although a cockatiel is unlikely to be chatty in its first few months of life, shortly after is the ideal time to commence speech training. A cockatiel is most impressionable when aged 3 to 6 months.

Most cockatiels start talking between 8 and 10 months of age.

Teaching Older Cockatiels To Talk

Teaching an older parrot to speak is possible but much harder than when it’s young. As cockatiels aren’t naturally skilled talkers, teaching a senior cockatiel to talk will be even more difficult.

If a cockatiel has never shown interest in talking, you’re unlikely to get it to use human words.

How To Teach A Cockatiel To Speak

Teaching a cockatiel to speak can be a lengthy and frustrating experience. Be patient when teaching cockatiels to use human words, as there are no guarantees of success.

To teach a cockatiel to talk, follow these simple steps:

Form A Lasting Bond

Before speech training, you must establish a bond of 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 naturally affectionate, so you can form a strong bond if you meet their care needs. If a cockatiel chirps happily, lifts its crest, and wags its tail, it’ll likely be receptive to training.

Focus On One Word At A Time

When teaching a cockatiel to talk, focus on one word at a time. The first few speaking attempts will likely be garbled and incomprehensible to humans, but it’s a start.

Speak in a high-pitched voice, and say the word repeatedly. Wait for the cockatiel to repeat it, then use it again. Repeat this process until the cockatiel mimics the sound.

Parrots don’t understand what they’re saying, so whether you use Spanish, English, or French is irrelevant.

The International Journal of Research Science and Management details an example of a cockatiel speaking Persian, meaning they can learn to speak any language if trained.

Check for A Positive Reaction

When teaching a cockatiel a new word, monitor its reaction.

Cockatiels respond better to some words than others. If they enjoy saying a word, they’re likelier to react positively to the training and repeat what’s been said.

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 again before attempting a different word.

can cockatiels speak English?

Offer A Reward for Reinforcement

Parrots respond well to positive interactions, so ensure they’re sufficiently motivated to continue learning. Always praise and reward a cockatiel for any attempt to speak, regardless of success.

Number of Words Cockatiels Can Learn

Even an eager-to-please cockatiel will be limited to a handful of words. Most cockatiels can learn 10 to 25 words, although some gifted talkers can learn 100+ words.

Simple Words To Learn

Cockatiels struggle to enunciate many words, so keep speech training basic. 1-2 syllable words are the easiest to learn. Easy-to-say words for cockatiels include:

  • “Hello.”
  • “Good morning.”
  • “I’m pretty.”
  • “Kiss me.”

A cockatiel may be able to learn and say its name if you give it a short moniker.

Understanding of The Words Used

Cockatiels don’t understand the meaning of words but may gain contextual understanding. For example, teaching the parrot ‘goodbye’ when you leave the room teaches it you’re about to retire for the night.

When a cockatiel speaks to you, it does so because it finds the noise pleasurable and enjoys your positive reaction. They don’t hold conversations, even if it sometimes seems that way.