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 say basic words and phrases.
We’ve compiled a list of the easiest words and phrases to teach a parrot, so why not try them?
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, African greys are the most talented speakers in the parrot world and can use English speech similar to young children.
The good news is that many other parrot species can talk well, including:
- Budgies: Up to 1,000 words.
- Amazon parrots: Up to 300 words.
- Indian ring parakeets: Up to 250 words.
- Cockatiels: Up to 25 words.
- Quaker parrots: Up to 60 words.
However, this is only an approximation. Some parrots will say more words, while others will say far less. Many factors affect their talking abilities, such as their interest level and when they start learning.
How To Teach A Parrot Words
While some parrots copy what you say, it takes training to string words together. While parrots must be trained to learn words, their intelligence levels play a part.
Nevertheless, you can teach a parrot to mimic human words with the following steps:
Use Simple Words
Start with simple 1-2 syllable words that are easier for a parrot to mimic. Once a bird grows comfortable mimicking easy words, you can move on to longer, more complex sentences and phrases.
Parrots learn the words they hear the most, the same way human babies pick up a language. Repeatedly say the word or phrase you want the parrot to say, and it may add it to its vocabulary.
Parrots mimic sooner when they associate a word or phrase with something they see or hear, like an:
When carrying out this technique, repeat the action, make the sound, and raise the object to the parrot’s eye level. Say the word and repeat the steps many times.
Consistency and Patience
You’ll need patience and consistency when training the parrot to speak. Parrots have good memories but need daily training to develop a good vocabulary.
Similarly, training isn’t always easy. Some parrots are stubborn, while others have mental health issues due to events from their past. Be patient, and don’t force the parrot to learn.
Build a Bond
Building trust with a parrot before you start the training will produce better results.
If you’ve only recently acquired the parrot, let it get to know you before you teach it to speak. Once the parrot loves and trusts you, it’ll want to mimic you.
Parrots are motivated by rewards, like food and affection. Treat the parrot to its favorite snack whenever it mimics a word or phrase.
Keep Lessons Short
Don’t stress the parrot out by carrying out long training sessions too often. Keep them short so the parrot has the best chance of retaining words and phrases. Keep any sessions fun.
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 weeks or months, depending on the following factors:
- History and background.
- Intelligence level.
- Willingness to learn.
Most parrots take around 12 months or more to form clear and coherent phrases humans can understand. Smarter parrots can pick up individual words in weeks. However, that’s not to say they resemble the original word, as it takes practice for parrots to mimic words well.
Similarly, if you own several pet parrots, they’re more likely to learn the basics from each other, particularly if one bird already has mimicking skills.
Simple Words To Teach A Parrot To Say
If you’re wondering what words parrots can say, start with easy starter words and phrases and progress onto something more challenging once the parrot develops and improves its mimicking skills.
Greetings and Goodbyes
Greetings and goodbyes are easier words to teach parrots and are a good place to start with training.
This is among 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 parrots learn to understand.
If the parrot struggles to say “hello” because it’s a two-syllable word, “hey” is an easy alternative.
Why not allow a feathered friend to learn greetings in more than one language? “Hola” is a great way to add worldwide greetings into its vocabulary.
“Howdy” is more conversational but is a fun and easy word to teach the bird how to greet you.
Parrots are associated with pirates, so why not teach them fun sea-faring words like “ahoy?”
“Goodbye” is another good word to teach a parrot, especially if you can train it to understand that it means you’re leaving the house.
This word sounds similar to “goodbye,” but repeating “bye-bye” may be easier for a parrot to say.
When it’s ready for bed, repeat “night-night” repeatedly so the parrot learns it’s time for sleep.
Similarly, teach the parrot to say “wake up” when it’s time to start the day.
“Rise And Shine”
“Rise and shine” has softer sounds, so it can be easier to teach a parrot than “wake-up.”
This is a lovely phrase to teach the bird if you share a strong bond with a parrot.
Teaching a parrot food-related words makes mealtimes easier. You can even train the parrot to let you know when it’s hungry or thirsty.
Use this word when filling up a parrot’s food bowl. The parrot may eventually learn the context and tell you when it’s hungry.
The same goes for the word “thirsty.” Say the word whenever you refresh the parrot’s water bowl to give it a contextual awareness of what it means.
This phrase means dinner’s coming, giving the parrot a reason to get excited about its favorite foods.
There’s no better way for a parrot to start the day than with a hearty breakfast, so try waking the parrot up by saying “breakfast” repeatedly.
Food-motivated parrots will enjoy learning the word “lunch” and may even gain a contextual awareness of its meaning.
“Dinner” starts with a relatively harsh-sounding “D,” but with only two syllables, it’s relatively easy to train. Add “time” to the end for a more complicated talking challenge.
Most parrots can’t resist a treat, so add the word to the parrot’s vocabulary to make it easier to train it to perform tricks.
Many parrots love oranges, so this is a fun word to train. Don’t just stop there – teach the parrot to say all its favorite fruits.
Parrots also like eating peanuts, so why not try this word? You could also teach the bird to say “seeds,” “nuts,” and all the other associated words.
This will help the parrot signal that it has enjoyed the food you’ve given it.
Beware – a parrot may always use this word to get tasty food. However, stay firm and only feed the parrot occasional treats.
Teaching the bird to say “enough” can help you train it to understand limits.
Teach the bird manners by only giving it treats once it’s said “please.” It may take time for the 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 the bird’s politeness.
You’ll undoubtedly come up with some unique nicknames for the parrot, but have fun teaching the parrot these sweet monikers first.
Sometimes the simplest nicknames are the best – “Birdie” is among them.
This is a sweet nickname that suits any parrot, regardless of its gender. Try adding “Pie” at the end to extend the nickname.
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 can get close to it.
If “Friend” is slightly 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.
To be a pretty bird, you don’t need to be a colorful Scarlet Macaw, so remind them of how beautiful it is.
This nickname is good to partner with a reward to let the 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 repeat it often around the parrot.
Your name’s a good word to teach if the parrot needs attention.
Tricks and Commands
Before you start teaching the parrot tricks or commands, teaching them the words associated with them makes life easier and helps the bird pick them up far more easily.
Step-up is one of the easiest tricks to teach, so add this phrase to the parrot’s repertoire to make it easier for the bird to learn.
Parrots don’t have lips, but that doesn’t mean they can’t nuzzle with their beak occasionally.
“Smooth” is a one-syllable alternative to “gimme kiss” that the parrot may find easier to learn.
“Come” can be used instead of “step-up” to teach the same trick if you’d like, or you can use it to encourage the bird to approach you instead of hopping onto your hand.
You can train a parrot to say “out” whenever it wants to leave its cage.
If a parrot’s had enough for one day, try to teach it a contextual awareness of what “go away” means.
Teach a parrot to say “home” when it wants to return to its cage or has had enough of being handled.
Say “lights” before turning them on to warn the parrot that they’re about to come on.
The same goes for “lights off” to help the parrot understand its bedtime.
It’s not too difficult to get a bird counting, especially when treats are involved. Most parrots can only count from 1 to 6, so try first.
Teaching the alphabet can help train parrots to speak, which means they already understand the various vocal sounds.
Encourage the bird to break into a song by commanding “sing.” You can lead by example with this one by singing a simple tune first.
Get a parrot moving by saying, “Dance.” Dance along with the parrot to strengthen your bond.
“Disco” works just as well and means it’s party time.
What better way to bond with the bird than to play games together? “Peekaboo” only has three syllables, so teaching shouldn’t be too difficult.
Peekaboo isn’t the only game you can play with the parrot. “Marco Polo” is another fun option.
Once a parrot knows how to say “polo,” tag it onto “Marco.”
Use this word to command the bird to look up. A pointing stick or your finger will help guide the bird’s head during training.
The same goes for getting a bird to look down at the floor. Use actions to help the parrot learn.
Teach a parrot to use this phrase when someone’s at the door. If the parrot feels extra intelligent, extend this phrase to “someone’s at the door.”
“Intruder” is a good word to teach if your bird fails to recognize someone at the door.
There’s nothing worse than leaving the house and forgetting your keys. Why not train a parrot to remind you just before you go?
The same goes for your wallet if you head out to the shops.
Encourage a parrot to learn the word “phone” to prevent you from accidentally leaving it behind.
Being in tune with a parrot’s wants and needs is good. These words and phrases will help you communicate with the bird more clearly.
Teaching a bird the word “happy” is a good way to understand the parrot’s mood. You could also use a little dance to train the parrot to learn what it means.
You should also teach the bird to let you know when it feels a bit blue so you can improve its mood.
We hope the bird doesn’t get angry often but train it to say this word so you can avoid issues.
Encourage the bird to communicate with you if it ever gets too hot. This can help 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 is useful.
All birds need attention, so it helps to know when they need more than you provide.
Parrots love to play, so repeat “play” whenever it’s time to have fun.
Once a parrot’s learned a few basic words and phrases, start practicing them in conversation with bite-sized sentences.
“Yes” is one of the simplest but most effective words to teach the bird. Try associating it with a positive action to help the parrot understand its meaning.
“No” is another important word, as it can help the parrot communicate 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 “me” to let the parrot know who you are.
Depending on context, you can use “you” in many conversations.
“How Are You?”
Asking the parrot how it’s a lovely way to show you care.
“What’s up” is two words but only two syllables. It should be relatively easy to teach.
When a bird likes something, train it to tell you about it with the word “like.”
The same goes for when the parrot doesn’t like something.
“Ooh La La”
Despite being three words with three syllables, “ooh la la” is easy for parrots to pick up thanks to the softer vowel sounds.
When something bad happens, the 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. No doubt the parrot will do at some point, like spilling its food.
Train the parrot to say “ouch” if it ever hurts itself or feels unwell.
Some parrots enjoy watching TV, so turn on the television and repeatedly repeat the word “TV” whenever a program plays.
Parrots also enjoy whistling along to their favorite tunes, so add the word “radio” to the bird’s vocabulary when you put some tunes on.
If you have other pets in the house, train the parrot to understand what they are.
This simple word is easy for all parrots to say and understand. Say it whenever a cat appears near the parrot’s cage (under supervision).
This is a simple word for people who also own cats. It doesn’t contain complex consonant sounds, so it should be easy enough to say. It can also signify danger if the cat isn’t allowed near the bird.
Like “meow,” “kitty” is a good word for parrots living with cats to understand.
Whenever the parrot comes into contact with a canine friend, say “dog” while pointing at them.
Parrots and dogs mix slightly better than cats and dogs, so train the 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 the parrot? Here are some words and phrases that add the novelty factor to the bird’s vocabulary.
As well as teaching the bird how to say “howdy,” why not go further? “Yee-haw” has soft vowel sounds, which are easy to mimic.
Teach the parrot to bob up and down like it’s riding a horse as you repeat “giddy-up” repeatedly.
“Yarr” is a fun way to embrace the pirate culture with which parrots are commonly associated.
“Hearty” is a pirate-themed word for “comrade,” so use it as a term of endearment.
This is another pirate-themed word a parrot will love learning. With only two syllables, “treasure” is much easier than it seems to teach.
As you teach the parrot to mimic this word, point to something gold and shiny.
Leaning away from the pirate theme slightly, “shiny” doesn’t only mean treasure but all the shiny things that are bound to catch the bird’s eye.
Have them repeat “alert,” and you’ll have a personal alarm system.
For those who celebrate Christmas, this phrase will pop up naturally in the parrot’s vocabulary at least once a year.
Whether celebrating the parrot’s birthday or your own, have fun with this word so the parrot understands it represents a special day.
Continuing with the holiday theme, “Easter” is a good seasonal word to teach a parrot.
Have fun teaching a parrot these words and phrases. Take your time and make training sessions as interactive as possible for the best results.