One of the most endearing features of parrots is their ability to speak. While some species are better than others at mimicking words, you can train parrots to talk with basic words and phrases.
Some of the easiest words to teach your parrot include greetings, such as “hello,” “goodbye,” “hola,” and “night-night.” Parrots are able to learn names, numbers, and ABCs, as well as pet noises, like “woof” and “meow.” Because parrots are commonly associated with pirates, you might want to add some fun nautical-themed words to your bird’s vocabulary, such as “treasure” and “yarr.”
We’ve put together a list of the easiest words and phrases to teach a parrot – why not give some of them a go?
How Many Words Can Parrots Say?
African grey parrots can mimic up to 1,000 words – more than any other bird species. As Applied Animal Behavior Science explains, they’re the most talented speakers in the bird world and can use English speech similar to young children. While many other parrot species can talk, they have smaller vocabularies consisting of:
- Budgies: 1,000 words
- Amazon parrots: 300 words
- Indian ring parakeets: 250 words
- Cockatiels: 250 words
- Quaker parrots: 50-60 words
However, this is only a rough guide. Some parrots will say more words, while others will say far less. Many factors affect their talking abilities, regardless of the species.
How To Teach A Parrot Words
While some parrots copy what you say, it takes a little training to help them string a few words together and grasp basic grammar. While parrots need training to learn words, their individual intelligence levels also have a large part to play. Nevertheless, you can teach your parrot to mimic using the following steps:
Use Simple Words
Start with simple one or two-syllable words that are easier for your parrot to mimic. Once your bird gets comfortable mimicking easy words, you can move on to longer, more complicated phrases.
Parrots learn the words they hear the most, which is the same way human babies pick up a language. Repeatedly say the word or phrase you want your parrot to say, and it’ll eventually include it in its vocabulary.
Parrots mimic faster when they can associate a word or phrase with something they see or hear, such as an:
When carrying out this technique, repeat the action, make the sound, and raise the object to your parrot’s eye level. Say the word and repeat these steps a few times.
Consistency and Patience
You’ll need plenty of patience and consistency when training your parrot to speak. Parrots have good memories, but they will need daily training to build up a decent vocabulary.
Similarly, training isn’t always going to be easy. Some parrots are stubborn, while others haven’t got a good mental capacity due to events from their past. Be patient, and don’t push your parrot too hard to learn.
Build a Bond
Building trust with your parrot before you start your training is more likely to produce better results. If you’ve only recently acquired your parrot, let it get to know you before you teach it to speak. Once your parrot trusts and loves you, it’ll want to mimic you all the time.
Parrots are motivated by rewards, such as tasty treats or affection (whichever they prefer). Treat your bird to its favorite food each time it successfully mimics a word or phrase.
Keep Lessons Short
Don’t stress your parrot out by carrying out long training sessions too often. Keep them short so that your bird has the maximum chance of retaining words and phrases. Try to also keep sessions as fun as possible.
How Long Does It Take To Teach a Parrot to Talk?
All parrots are different and pick up words at their own pace. This could take a few weeks or a few months – it all depends on the birds:
- Willingness to learn
Most parrots take around 12 months or more to form clear and coherent phrases that humans can understand. Smarter parrots, such as African greys, can pick up individual words in only a few weeks. However, that’s not to say they resemble the original word. It takes time and practice for parrots to mimic words well.
Similarly, if you own multiple parrots, they’re more likely to learn the basics from each other – particularly if one bird already has mimicking skills.
Simple Words To Teach Your Parrot To Say
If you’re wondering what words parrots can say, try starting with these easy starter words and phrases and progress onto something more challenging once your parrot develops and improves its mimicking skills.
Greetings and Goodbyes
Greetings and goodbyes are some of the easiest words to teach parrots and are a good place to start with your training.
This is one of the first words owners teach their parrots because it’s short, easy for birds to say, and has a clear and concise meaning that many birds learn to understand.
If your parrot struggles to say “hello” because it’s a two-syllable word, “hey” is an easy stop-gap to try teaching it first.
Why not allow your feathered friend to learn greetings in more than one language? “Hola” is a great way to get as many different worldwide greetings into its vocabulary as possible.
“Howdy” is a little more conversational but is a fun and easy word to teach your bird how to greet you.
Parrots are commonly associated with pirates, so why not teach your bird some fun sea-faring words and phrases, such as “ahoy?”
“Goodbye” is another good word to teach your parrot, especially if you can train it to understand that it means you’re leaving the house.
This word sounds similar to “goodbye,” but the repetition of “bye-bye” may be easier for your parrot to say.
When it’s ready for bed, repeat “night-night” over and over so your parrot learns it’s time to settle down to sleep.
Similarly, teach your parrot to say “wake up” when it’s time to start the day.
“Rise and shine”
“Rise and shine” contain softer sounds, so it can be a little easier to teach than “wake-up.”
If you share a strong bond with your parrot, this is a lovely phrase to train your bird.
Teaching your parrot food-related words makes mealtimes easier. You can even train your bird to let you know when it’s hungry or thirsty.
Use this word when filling up your parrot’s food bowl. Your parrot will eventually learn what it means and will tell you when it’s hungry.
The same goes for the word “thirsty.” Say the word whenever you refresh your parrot’s water bowl to give it a contextual awareness of what it means.
This phrase means dinner’s coming, giving your bird a reason to get excited about its favorite foods.
There’s no better way for your parrot to start the day than with a hearty breakfast – so try waking your parrot up by saying “breakfast” over and over.
Food-motivated parrots will enjoy learning the word “lunch” and may even gain a contextual awareness of what it means.
“Dinner” starts with a relatively harsh-sounding “D,” but with only two syllables, it’s relatively easy to train. Try adding “time” to the end of it for a more complicated talking challenge.
Most parrots can’t resist a treat, so add the word into your bird’s vocabulary to make it easier to train it to do tricks.
Many parrots love oranges, so this is a fun word to train. Don’t just stop there – teach your parrot to say all of their favorite fruits.
Parrots also love peanuts, so why not give this word a try? You could also teach your bird to say “seeds” and “nuts” and all the other associated words.
This will help your bird signal that it has enjoyed the food you’ve given it.
Beware – your parrot may use this word all the time to get tasty food! However, make sure you stay firm only feed your parrot occasional treats.
Teaching your bird to say “enough” can help you train it to understand limits.
Teach your bird some manners by only giving it treats once it’s said “please”. It may take time for your parrot to understand, but it’ll get there in the end.
Another manner-related word, “thanks” is easy to say and will amaze your guests at your bird’s politeness.
You’ll no doubt come up with some unique nicknames for your parrot, but have some fun with teaching your parrot these sweet monikers first.
Sometimes the simplest nicknames are the best – “Birdie” being one of them.
This is a sweet nickname that suits any parrot, regardless of its gender. Try adding “Pie” on the end to extend the nickname.
This word can have two meanings. It either makes a lovely nickname or indicates that tasty treats are coming.
Though the “F” sound can be difficult for parrots to produce, some are able to get close to it.
If “Friend” is a little bit too tricky, then “Buddy” is slightly easier to teach.
“Matey” is an informal way to say “friend” and is comical to hear from a parrot’s mouth.
You don’t need to be a colorful Scarlet Macaw to be a pretty bird, so make sure you remind your pet of just how beautiful it is.
This nickname is a good one to partner with a reward to let your parrot know it’s doing a great job.
This one’s a little more conversational and is an excellent way to reward a male parrot.
This word should be easy to learn as you’ll be repeating it often when you’re around your bird.
Your name’s a good word to teach if ever you bird needs your attention.
Tricks and Commands
Before you start teaching your parrot any tricks or commands, teaching them the words associated with them makes life easier and helps your bird pick them up far more easily.
Step-up is one of the easiest tricks to teach, so add this phrase to your parrot’s repertoire to make it easier for your bird to learn.
Parrots don’t have lips, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give a little nuzzle with their beak every now and then.
“Smooth” is a one-syllable alternative to “gimme kiss” that your parrot may find easier to learn.
“Come” can be used in place of “step-up” to teach the same trick if you’d like, or you can use it to encourage your bird to approach you instead of hopping onto your hand.
You can train your parrot to say “out” every time it wants to get out of its cage.
If your bird’s had enough for one day, try to teach it a contextual awareness of what “go away” means.
Teach your bird to say “home” when it wants to go back into its cage or its had enough of being handled.
Say “lights” just before turning them on to warn your bird that they’re about to come on.
The same goes for “lights off” to help your parrot understand that it’s bedtime.
It’s not too difficult to get your bird counting, especially when there are treats involved. Most parrots can only count from one to six, so give these a try first.
Teaching the alphabet can help when training parrots to speak, as it means they already understand the various vocal sounds.
Encourage your bird to break into song by commanding “sing.” You can lead by example with this one by singing a simple tune first.
Get your parrot moving by saying, “dance.” Dance along with your bird to strengthen your bond.
“Disco” works just as well and means it’s party time!
What better way to bond with your bird than to play games together? “Peekaboo” only has three syllables, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to teach.
Peekaboo isn’t the only game you can play with your parrot. “Marco Polo” is another fun option.
Once your parrot knows how to say “polo,” tag it onto “Marco.”
Use this word to command your bird to look up. A pointing stick or your finger will help to guide your bird’s head during the training stages.
The same goes for getting your bird to look down to the floor. Use actions to help your parrot learn.
Teach your parrot to use this phrase when someone’s at the door. If your bird feels extra intelligent, try to extend this phrase to “someone’s at the door.”
“Intruder” is a good word to teach in case your bird fails to recognize someone at the door.
There’s nothing worse than leaving the house and forgetting your keys. Why not train your parrot to remind you just before you go?
The same goes for your wallet if you’re heading out to the shops.
Encourage your parrot to learn the word “phone” to prevent you from accidentally leaving it behind.
It’s good to be in tune with your parrot’s wants and needs. These words and phrases will help you communicate with your bird more clearly.
Teaching the word “happy” is a good way to understand your parrot’s mood. You could also use a little dance to train your parrot to learn what it means.
You should also teach your bird to let you know when it feels a bit blue so you can improve its mood.
We hope your bird doesn’t get angry too often but train your bird to say this word so you can prevent avoidable issues.
Encourage your bird to communicate with you if it ever gets too hot. This can help you determine whether you need to change the room’s temperature.
The same goes for the word “cold.” Most parrots are from warm climates, so this word’s a useful one.
All birds need attention, so it helps to know when they need a little more than what you’re providing.
Parrots love to play, so repeat “play” whenever it’s time to have some fun.
Once your bird’s learned a few basic words and phrases, start putting them into practice in conversation with bite-sized sentences.
“Yes” is one of the simplest but most effective words to teach your bird. Try to associate it with a positive action to help your bird understand its meaning.
“No” is another important word, as it can help your parrot communicate with you that it’s not on board with whatever you’re doing.
Parrots are curious creatures that love to explore, so encourage their curiosity with the word “what?”
Use the word “me” to let your parrot know who you are.
You can use “you” in many conversations, depending on the context.
“How Are You?”
Asking your parrot how it is a lovely way to show you care.
“What’s up” may be two words, but it’s only two syllables. It should be relatively easy to teach.
When your bird likes something, train it to let you know about it with the word “like.”
The same goes for when your bird doesn’t like something.
“Ooh La La”
Despite being three words with three syllables, “ooh la la” is very easy for birds to pick up thanks to the softer vowel sounds.
When something bad happens, your parrot should be able to let you know, so teach it to say “uh-oh” in case of accidents or emergencies.
We all make mistakes, and no doubt your bird will too at some point – like spilling its food all over the place!
Train your parrot to say “ouch” if it ever hurts itself or feels unwell.
Some parrots are known to enjoy watching TV, so turn on the television and repeat the word “TV” repeatedly whenever a program plays.
Parrots also enjoy whistling along to their favorite tunes, so add the word “radio” to your bird’s vocabulary when you put some tunes on.
Here are a few words and phrases to help your pets get along with each other.
If you have other pets in the house, train your parrot to understand what they are.
This simple word is easy for all parrots to say and understand. Say it whenever your cat appears near your parrot’s cage (under supervision, of course).
This is a simple word for people who also own cats. It doesn’t contain any complex consonant sounds, so it should be easy enough for your bird to say. It can also signify danger if your cat isn’t allowed to be anywhere near your bird.
In the same vein as “meow,” “kitty” is a good word for parrots living with cats to understand.
Whenever your parrot comes into contact with your canine friend, say “dog” while pointing towards the animal.
Parrots and dogs mix slightly better than cats and dogs, so train your parrot to understand what “woof” means.
A fun word that’s easy for all parrots to say and understand.
Fun Novelty words
Why not have some fun with the words you teach your parrot? Here are some words and phrases that add the novelty factor to your bird’s vocabulary.
As well as teaching your bird how to say “howdy,” why not go one step further? “Yee-haw” has soft vowel sounds, which are easy to mimic.
Teach your parrot to bob up and down like it’s riding a horse as you repeat “giddy-up” over and over.
“Yarr” is a fun way to embrace the pirate culture that parrots are commonly associated with.
“Hearty” is a pirate-themed word for “comrade,” so use it as a term of endearment.
This is another pirate-themed word your parrot will love learning. With only two syllables, “treasure” is a lot easier than it looks to teach.
Point to something gold and shiny as you teach your parrot to mimic this word.
Leaning away from the pirate theme slightly, “shiny” doesn’t only mean treasure but all the shiny things that are bound to catch your bird’s eye.
Have your bird repeat “alert” and you’ve got your own personal alarm system.
For those who celebrate Christmas, this phrase is bound to pop up naturally in your bird’s vocabulary at least once a year.
Whether you’re celebrating your parrot’s birthday or your own, try to have fun with this word so that your parrot understands it represents a special day.
Continuing down the holiday theme, “Easter” is a good seasonal word to teach your parrot.
Have fun teaching your parrot these words and phrases. Take your time and make training sessions as interactive as possible for best results.