Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Carrie Stephens
Senegal parrots aren’t good talkers but may learn some vocabulary. Many Senegals can mimic 5 to 15 English words, but their skills will never be on par with African grays or Amazon parrots.
While there’s no such thing as a silent bird, Senegals are quieter than most parrots. Rather than talking, they prefer to make bird vocalizations, such as whistling, chattering, clucking, and squawking.
Without owner encouragement, Senegal parrots are unlikely to be interested in talking. In the wild, you’ll never hear a parrot having a human-like conversation. It takes training or exposure to people.
Senegal parrots are likelier to learn to mimic human speech if you:
- Talk to them regularly.
- Leave the TV on when away.
- Repeat words during training sessions.
- Provide lessons while they’re still young.
Male and female Senegal parrots have similar speaking abilities, so there’s no gender-based advantage.
If you start training a Senegal to speak while young, it’s likelier to learn to mimic some words. Teaching an older parrot to talk is possible, but senior birds are more stubborn and set in their ways.
Age Senegal Parrots Start To Talk
There’s no set age when Senegal parrots will or won’t talk. Some never say human words.
Owners report their birds mimicking words from 6 months of age, while others don’t start talking until they’re several years old. These factors influence a Senegal’s speaking age:
- Personality (shy vs. outgoing.)
- Intelligence level.
- Age (young vs. old.)
- Willingness to talk.
- Human-parrot bond.
- Living environment.
The sooner you start training a Senegal parrot, the likelier it is to speak.
Even though some Senegal parrots can mimic words, they don’t understand what they’re saying. A parrot may appear to grasp your words, but our brains fill in the blanks.
Parrots may gain contextual awareness when coupled with their owners’ actions.
If an owner says “Hello” to their parrot when they walk into the room, Senegals recognize the context and repeat the words whenever they see you. However, it may say hello whenever you leave the room.
If you say “Melon” to a parrot whenever you offer it some, it may repeat this word. However, it’s just as likely to say melon when you offer it any food because it understands it’s about to be fed.
Learning Different Languages
Senegal parrots can’t distinguish between human languages, meaning they don’t understand the difference between English and French or German and Spanish.
Parrots only mimic the language of their owners because that’s what they hear.
Bird Sounds vs. Human Words
Communication preferences arise when humans respond to appliances, like a beep from a microwave. Parrots mimic these sounds once they realize they get their owners’ attention.
As appliance sounds are easier to copy than words, some parrots never develop human vocabulary.
How To Teach A Senegal Parrot to Talk
Teaching a Senegal parrot to talk requires regular, consistent training. Sessions should be brief to avoid boredom and overstimulation. 10-minute training sessions several times a day work best.
Training is more likely to be successful if you start early in life. Avoid forcing the parrot to do anything it doesn’t want to because the best results are achieved when the experience is fun.
Develop A Close Bond
A parrot will be more receptive to training after you’ve built a bond and developed trust. Once a Senegal parrot likes you, it’ll want to please you by mimicking human-sounding words.
When it sees your delight, it’ll use the words regularly and be receptive to adding to its vocabulary.
Simple Words Only
Parrots prefer to learn words they find fun, especially if they invoke a human reaction. We know that Senegal parrots aren’t the best talkers, so only teach them 1-2 syllable words. Examples include:
- Good bird.
Once it has mastered basic vocabulary, try one or two longer, more complicated words. If this doesn’t yield results, switch to words that have been getting the most success.
The trick to getting a Senegal parrot to mimic words is to repeat them. Parrots learn words by copying them in the same way that human babies do.
Start with one word at a time and use it regularly around them. Once the parrot mimics you, move on to the next one and repeat this process until it has developed a modest vocabulary.
You can encourage a Senegal parrot to learn words by associating them with:
To do this, make the action, expression, or sound and raise the food/object to the parrot’s eye level so that it can see what you’re holding.
Senegals are motivated by rewards like food, petting, and one-on-one attention. Reward your Senegal parrot whenever it successfully mimics human words, as this will reinforce its learning.
Patience and Consistency
It’s likely to take months for a Senegal parrot to learn a few words. The process can be slow, so don’t give up prematurely. Spend time repeating words and phrases, or it’ll only ever use bird vocalizations.
Sounds Senegal Parrots Make
Senegal parrots aren’t prolific screamers or screechers. They’re not completely quiet, as all birds make noise, even though they’re calmer and more peaceful than others.
You’ll often hear a Senegal parrot whistling, especially if you make the sound frequently around them. When they whistle, they make a soft, pleasant-to-hear sound.
Whistling is like talking to parrots because they learn to make this sound through their environment. It’s a sign they’re happy because parrots don’t whistle when sad or annoyed.
Squawking sounds are often produced when a parrot wants something, such as:
- Additional attention.
- Food or treats.
- Time outside the cage.
- Favorite toys.
When squawking, note the parrot’s mannerisms and mood to understand what it wants.
Senegals squawk when they feel scared or unsafe. This could be due to predatory pets, specific colors, strange shadows, and unexplained noises. Some parrots also squawk during night terrors.
Chattering sounds like an endless stream of nonsensical syllables interspersed with whistles and words. If you have several parrots, you’ll hear them chattering, which is how they communicate with each other.
Senegals aren’t the best talkers. If you want a Senegal parrot to speak, you must train and interact with it regularly. Focus on teaching it one easy word at a time before moving on to the next one.