Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Carrie Stephens
Quaker parrots (Myiopsitta monachus) are communicative pet birds that bond strongly with their owners. Part of this attachment involves the parrot imitating human speech to please its owner.
Once taught how to speak, Quaker parrots can develop an extensive vocabulary. They begin speaking English quickly, but most won’t pronounce decipherable words for 5 – 6 months.
Male and female Quakers are equally skilled talkers. However, you may need to listen carefully to a Quaker parrot to understand what it’s saying because their voices are very high-pitched.
Although captive Quakers like to talk, they’re not noisier than other birds. If you care for several Quaker parrots, they’re likelier to resort to wild communication styles.
Not All Quaker Parrots Will Talk
Quaker parrots (monk parakeets) often learn to repeat human words, but there’s no guarantee that a pet parrot will talk. Some Quakers communicate exclusively through wild vocalizations.
Quakers are skilled mimics and talkers, so there will likely be an explanation for a bird not speaking.
The most common explanation is not spending enough time training your parrot. As Quakers learn through imitation and aim to impress bonded humans, increase your interactions.
If a Quaker only speaks when one particular owner is home, this is likely a consequence of the parrot imprinting on a single person. Some Quaker parrots become one-person birds and may only be interested in engaging with their favorite human.
Male vs. Female Quaker Parrot Taling Skills
Usually, males are more communicative and responsive to training than females. This is because male parrots imitate the calls and songs of potential mates in the wild to impress them.
While this is also true of Quakers, Behavioral Ecology explains how each Quaker has unique calls to identify itself. This means that male and female Quakers are equally likely to talk.
Wild Quaker parrots live in large flocks and often build a communal nest. Their song is vital for identifying themselves to their flockmates.
Quakers must also memorize and imitate flock songs to prove they belong to a group.
A captive Quaker parrot’s flock is its owner. Consequently, male and female Quakers learn and imitate human words to show they’re part of the family.
Clarity of Quaker Parrots’ Speech
Although Quaker parrots are excellent talkers who can develop an extensive vocabulary, they don’t have the clearest speaking voices. A Quaker’s voice will never be mistaken for a human.
The pitch and tone of a Quaker’s voice are similar to an Indian ringneck. It’ll be high-pitched and squeaky, which means owners may take a while to understand what is being said.
Quaker Parrots Understanding of Words
Trends in Genetics compares the intelligence of a Quaker parrot to that of a 3 – 5-year-old human.
This suggests they will have at least some comprehension of their language, although parrots typically respond more to reactions to their speech.
Quaker parrots bond strongly with their owners, especially when they’re the only birds, and love to please and entertain a favorite human. A Quaker parrot will remember your reaction if you laugh, clap, and pet your parrot when it says certain words.
You can also teach a Quaker parrot to understand words and trigger phrases. For example, if you say “night-night” when covering the bird’s cage, it may learn to say this before it goes to sleep.
Equally, Quaker parrots can learn to associate favored treats with their names. A simple word like “apple” may be repeated and requested when a Quaker parrot is hungry.
Age Quaker Parrots Start Talking
If you adopt a young Quaker, it may attempt to mimic speech once it’s 2 months old. However, these attempts to talk will likely be garbled and incomprehensible.
Quaker parrots usually find their voice at 5 or 6 months. At this point, it should have grasped some human words and will likely excitedly greet you upon sight.
If you’ve been encouraging the Quaker to talk from a young age, praising attempts to speak even if unsuccessful, it’ll be chattier and more communicative when it masters speech.
There’s no standard cut-off point for when a Quaker parrot stops talking or learning new words.
Parrots aren’t believed to experience a cognitive decline as they age, so a bird may continue chatting and expanding its vocabulary for many years.
However, older parrots are more set in their ways, while the brain of a younger bird absorbs new information more readily. You may notice that a Quaker’s communication skills peak at a younger age.
A Quaker parrot won’t forget the words it knows and enjoys saying. However, it may show reluctance to learn new dialog, preferring to lean back on established words and phrases.
Quaker Parrots Don’t Talk English To Each Other
Quaker parrots are very social, relying on regular interaction to remain happy. If you can’t meet its needs for attention and companionship, two Quaker parrots should be housed together,
Most Quakers will happily share a cage with a conspecific if there’s enough space and resources. This arrangement may impact your ability to teach them to talk and will lead to a noisier home.
Inter-parrot communication relies upon a range of body language and vocal cues, so using human words will be less relevant if two Quakers live together.
Quaker parrots chatter, sing to each other, and imitate different sounds in the home. This means the cage is rarely quiet, but the birds are happier and more contented.
How To Get A Quaker Parrot To Start Talking
Although Quaker parrots are good talkers, no bird is born with the ability to communicate in human language. Here’s how to get a Quaker parrot to talk:
- Bond with the parrot. Quakers relish a positive relationship with owners, so work tirelessly to help them feel comfortable and confident in your care.
- Involve a Quaker in your daily life. Don’t leave the parrot locked in a cage while you complete chores or relax. Let the parrot free-roam if it’s safe, allowing it to observe your activities and chat with you.
- Set aside at least 20 minutes daily to train a parrot to speak. Quakers learn through repetition, so focus on one word or phrase and encourage the bird to repeat what you’re saying.
- Each time the Quaker attempts to speak, praise and reward it, regardless of whether you can understand. Celebrating the effort over the achievement will encourage it to continue training.
- Let the Quaker master one word or phrase at a time before moving on to the next lesson. Don’t confuse the parrot by forcing it to learn multiple words, which may lead to a garbled mish-mash.
- Use physical cues to accompany verbal training, like leaving a room when you say “bye-bye” or holding up an apple when you say “apple.”
If you follow these prompts, a Quaker should quickly develop a vocabulary of at least 50-60 words and phrases, potentially more if you keep up the training and inspire the parrot to keep learning.