Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:24 pm
Even when living alone, budgies communicate by making various excitable sounds. Trills, whistles, chirrups, and songs with no recognizable beat or rhythm are common.
Budgieregars are skilled mimics that enjoy replicating the sounds they hear in their environment. If you adopt an American parakeet as a pet and chat with them, do budgies talk back to you?
Budgies can usually be taught to say words in English, Spanish, French, or any other language under the right circumstances. However, human speech isn’t a budgie’s primary means of communication.
The more you talk to a budgie, the likelier it is to mimic what you say. The bird will repeat noises it frequently hears and finds enjoyable to imitate, which may include human words.
If you want a budgie to talk, you must dedicate time to training, ideally when it’s less than 4 months old. A single budgie, especially a male, is likelier to communicate through speech.
Bonded pairs of budgies will focus more on communicating with each other than the wishes of a human owner, falling back on wild vocalizations to chatter among themselves.
Do All Budgies Talk?
Budgieregars (Melopsittacus undulatus) can talk, but not all birds call on this skill. To a budgie, speaking in human language isn’t a conscious decision. The bird is simply repeating a sound it frequently hears.
Single budgies are likelier to talk in human language than pairs or groups.
If you only keep one budgie, you’ll become the primary focus of the bird’s attention. It’ll constantly watch and listen to you, imitating your mannerisms and vocal inflections.
If you keep several budgies, encouraging speech will be more challenging. The birds will be more interested in each other than human owners, meeting their needs for attention and companionship.
You can still train multiple budgies to talk, but the lessons must be conducted one-on-one. If another bird is nearby, this will be a considerable distraction.
Can Female Budgies Talk?
Female budgerigars can talk but are less likely to do so than males. This is a holdover from their wild behaviors, where repetition is less crucial to survival.
As explained by Ethology, a wild male budgie that wishes to mate will listen intently to the calls and songs of a female. The male will echo these sounds with pitch-perfect clarity as part of a courtship ritual.
The closer the male comes to mirroring the sounds of a female, the likelier she is to accept his invitation to breed. Consequently, male budgies pay more attention to environmental sounds.
This is why a single (male) budgie is likelier to speak. In the absence of an opposite-sex bird to breed with, captive parakeets view human owners through this prism.
The bird is trying to impress you in the same way it would a female budgie.
Sole female budgies in captivity may respond to speech training and learn to repeat a handful of simple words and phrases. A successful outcome is slightly less likely, as females have different motivations.
Can English Budgies Talk?
A slightly larger species of budgie, known as the English budgie, is also popular in the pet trade, although it’s more commonly kept by specialists and displayed at bird shows.
Aside from physical differences – English budgies are larger and stockier, have a more defined plumage, and have rounder heads that American parakeets – they have slightly different temperaments. English budgies are usually much quieter and more relaxed.
English budgies are primarily bred for shows, making them less likely to chirp and chatter throughout the day. However, they’re also more responsive to training from owners, as this is in their nature.
Training an English budgie to talk involves making it clear that you want the bird to communicate. An English budgie is less likely to show off and seek attention from an owner.
English budgies have a low baritone voice and can develop a more extensive vocal repertoire.
An English budgie named Puck held the Guinness World Record for the largest known vocabulary of any bird, learning 1,728 words before he died in 1994.
Do Budgies Understand What They Say?
A budgie can understand the context and reaction that speaking garners from human owners, encouraging the budgie to continue speaking.
Imagine you train a budgie to say, “I’m a pretty bird.” You may have engaged in days or weeks of coaching to no avail, but then the budgie repeats this phrase when you walk into a room.
You’ll likely be thrilled that your efforts have paid off and the bird is now talking, so you’ll shower the budgie with affection and treats. The budgie connects this sequence of sounds with rewards, becoming compelled to repeat them, hoping for the same outcome.
You can coach a budgie into associating particular words with daily events.
For example, the bird may say “good morning” whenever you uncover a cage upon waking. Don’t be surprised if the budgie also says “good morning” in the afternoon and evening.
At What Age Do Budgies Start to Talk?
Budgies often begin chirping and communicating upon hatching from an egg. Most budgies become receptive to human language at 2 to 3 months if adopted from fledgling status.
While it may take up to a year for a budgie to become entirely verbal and coherent in human language, many birds will at least attempt to mimic their owners once they’re able.
If possible, start speech training before the budgie is 4 months old. At this age, the bird’s brain will be more flexible and capable of absorbing significant new information.
Can You Teach an Old Budgie to Talk?
Budgies can learn new words and calls throughout their lives.
Captive budgerigars are less likely to welcome speech training in their senior years. If a budgie isn’t speaking after a year, it may never do so.
Younger budgies are more excitable and respond better to attention from owners. Older budgies are more set in their ways, seeing little need to cater to human desires.
If you’ve lived with a budgie for a long time and it never spoke when young, this is unlikely to change as the bird ages. Some parakeets never master human language, especially if they have a companion.
How Do You Get Budgies to Talk?
Teaching a budgerigar to speak requires patience, consistency, and effort. If you’re dedicated to conversing with a parakeet, follow these steps:
- Bond with the budgie. A parakeet is likelier to respond to training if it has reason to please you.
- If you keep more than one budgie, separate the birds and train them individually.
- Wait for the budgie to calm down before starting the lesson, removing any distractions.
- Encourage the budgie to land on your hand or an elevated perch. The idea is to get the bird’s level with your face so the parrot can see your lips while you speak.
- Smile to set the budgie at rest, and enthusiastically use the word you aim to teach. The more gleeful you sound while saying this word, the likelier the budgie is to pay attention.
- If the budgie attempts to repeat the word, even if the result is garbled and incomprehensible, praise and reward them with a treat.
You’ll know if the budgie is engaged in the lesson if its pupils dilate and it watches intently. If you have captured the bird’s attention, you can repeat steps 5 and 6 for up to 20 minutes daily.
Once you’ve completed some lessons and the budgie is interested, you can pair words with hand gestures to aid teaching. This can be especially effective with commands related to behavior.
If a parrot grows bored with a speech lesson, don’t force it to continue for 20 minutes against its will.
How Long Does it Take to Teach a Budgie to Talk?
Each budgie is an individual, so no single timeframe can be ascribed to teaching a parakeet to talk. Some birds quickly pick up on the training, while others will be slower learners.
Consistency is key, so don’t lose heart and become erratic with speech lessons if you feel the budgie isn’t advancing as fast as you would like. Keep working with the bird for 20 minutes per day.
While there’s never a guarantee that a budgerigar will become a skilled conversationalist, a parakeet will inevitably cease attempting to speak if you abandon training.
Easy Words for Budgies to Learn
Some words are easier for budgies to pronounce than others.
Parakeets don’t have lips, so they often struggle with hard b, g, m, t, and th sounds. A budgie may still attempt to make these noises, but pronunciation may not be flawless.
Respect the limitations of a budgie’s speaking ability when teaching it to talk. Start with simple phrases, ideally not exceeding two syllables. A basic “hello” or “good night” should be simple lessons to build on.
Some of the most popular words and phrases to teach budgerigars include:
- “I love you.”
- “Play with me.”
- “Uh oh.”
- “Lift me up.”
- “Kiss me.”
- “Rise and shine.”
- “Please” and “Thank you.”
- “Lights out.”
- “Pretty bird.”
A parrot shouldn’t be adopted solely because the species are good talkers. There are no guarantees that a parrot will ever speak. However, budgies can be encouraged to talk if trained and motivated.