Teaching a parrot to speak is a great way to bond and play together. These intelligent animals can memorize up to a thousand words, so prepare for a surprisingly advanced vocabulary.
Educate a parrot with some funny and unique expressions to maximize its verbal abilities. These will bring a smile to your face and help your parrot express itself.
Start with short, basic words and move on to encouraging your parrot to speak in full sentences. This will take time and patience, but the rewards will last a lifetime.
For good or bad, once a parrot learns a word, it rarely forgets it.
How Do Parrots Learn to Talk?
Parrots are natural imitators, and this is how they learn to talk.
Parrots will repeat the sounds and words they hear, especially if they find them pleasurable to say. The more a parrot hears a word, the likelier it is to say it.
Your parrot will also associate words with actions. If you say “bedtime” before covering a parrot cage at night, it’ll associate the word with the outcome.
As a result, your parrot may say, “bedtime,” when it wants to be plunged into darkness and sleep.
How Many Words Can Parrots Say?
This depends on the parrot’s breed and how much time you spend speaking with the bird.
According to Applied Animal Behavior Science, the African grey can sometimes learn up to 1,000 words, and even budgies are believed to have an advanced vocabulary.
Other parrots will have a more limited vocal repertoire, perhaps only learning 10-20 words. Equally, just because a budgie or African grey can use language to this extent doesn’t mean it’ll do so.
How Long Does it Take a Parrot to Talk?
By the time a parrot is one year old, it’ll be comparatively chatty.
Most parrots start to verbalize at the age of three months. The more you speak to a parrot and respond when it talks back, the sooner it’ll become talkative.
What Words Do Parrots Find Easiest to Say?
Think of a parrot’s speech capabilities as equivalent to a human infant.
Start by teaching short, simple one- or two-syllable words, and gradually move to more elaborate speech patterns and complete sentences.
One short word that you should teach a parrot is “no.”
This is arguably the easiest word for a parrot to pick up, and if you’re not careful, you’ll hear it a great deal. Teach them terms you’ll be happy to hear.
Funny Things To Make A Parrot Say
One of the main joys of owning a talking pet is teaching it to use certain terms and words. Here are some suggestions for funny sayings you can teach your parrot:
Greetings, especially a simple “hello,” are the first things many people teach parrots. You could expand your parrot’s repertoire with some fun alternatives and compliments. Try these examples.
- “Ahoy, matey.”
- “You look nice today.”
- “Rise and shine.”
- “Here you are again.”
- “Hello, handsome.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. However you greet your parrot is likely to be repeated for yourself and others, so make it an endearing salutation.
Parrots know their own mind and can sometimes be bossy. All the same, teaching a parrot to issue commands can be great fun.
Here are some good-natured and helpful demands you can teach your parrot to make of you:
- “Kiss me please” or “give me a kiss.”
- “Lights off, please,” or “turn out the lights.”
- “Play with me, please.”
- “Feed me, please.”
- “Water, please.”
If you teach your parrot to issue commands, act on them, so it doesn’t get frustrated.
Parrots love to interact with their human families, and asking questions is a simple way to earn a response. Here are some fun posers you can teach your bird to ask:
- “What’s going on?”
- “Who’s a pretty boy/girl?”
- “What time is it?”
- “Who goes there?”
- “How is the weather?”
If your parrot asks a question and you answer it, your pet will be encouraged to keep repeating the query. If your parrot asks something you’d rather it did not say again, try not to react.
Parrots can make surprisingly effective guard pets, as they’ll often grow excitable when they see somebody – whether it’s a familiar face or not. You can also teach your parrot to verbalize displeasure if you do something they dislike or when they make a mess.
Examples of warning sayings beyond a simple “uh-oh,” include:
- “Someone’s at the door.”
- “Poop is coming.”
- “Bombs away!” (use this when you drop something, and your parrot will do the same.)
- “Don’t like that.”
- “Stranger danger.”
Try to teach your parrot to use these sayings in an appropriate context and take it with a pinch of salt when they do. Learn your parrot’s body language cues to make the most of their verbal warnings.
Conversations and Jokes
If you can teach your parrot some basic conversational mannerisms, you’ll impress guests and help your parrot feel involved in your daily lives and routines.
Here are some fun sayings you can encourage your parrot to use in polite company:
- “I like your hair.”
- “Happy birthday” (don’t expect your parrot to only use this on your birthday.)
- “I’m calling the cops.”
- “Help, I’m not a parrot.”
- “Bless you,” after somebody sneezes.
These words and sayings will take more effort to ingrain into your parrot’s life, and they may not always use them appropriately, but you’re sure to smile when they do.
Asking for Food
Parrots love to eat and can get into trouble by helping themselves to human snacks. If you teach your parrot to announce when it’s hungry, you can potentially avoid this outcome. Try these sayings.
- “Polly want a cracker” (you call this a cliché, we call it a classic.)
- “Yummy, yummy, yummy.”
- “Dinner time, please.”
- “Time for tea.”
- “Want <food name>, please.”
You can teach a parrot how to identify food by holding it before them and repeating it. Before you know it, your parrot will request its favorite snacks by name.
Proverbs and Idioms
Try teaching your parrot some simple proverbs. These will be easy enough to remember and provide sage advice for you and your parrot. These idioms shouldn’t be beyond your parrot’s vocal repertoire:
- “Look before you leap.”
- “Better late than never” (or you could try, “better safe than sorry.”)
- “Waste not, want not.”
- “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
- “Takes two to tango.”
Remember that your parrot could repeat these sayings at any point – they won’t attach them to any specific meaning. Don’t risk offending visitors in your home by teaching your parrot an expression that could be misconstrued.
Movie and TV Quotes
Many parrots live in the living room of a home and spend their evenings relaxing with a human family. This means it’s common for parrots to repeat famous quotes from your favorite movies or shows.
Here are some fun lines to teach a parrot:
- “We were on a break.”
- “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
- “You’re a wizard, Harry.”
- “Yabba dabba doo.”
- “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Be careful what you watch when your parrot is in the room. For example, if you’re watching an R-rated movie, your parrot may develop an unwanted preference for profanity.
Parrots learn new words through repetition, so song lyrics heard on the radio will frequently be repeated. This could be a pro or con, depending on the song.
Popular song lyrics to teach your parrot include:
- “>Squawk< we’re halfway there. >Squawk< livin’ on a prayer.”
- “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah.”
- “I kissed a girl. I liked it.”
- “You really got me.”
Christmas ditties often have a simple, repetitive beat, so your parrot will pick up a song like “Jingle Bells.” Your parrot will sing this all year round, though, so it may quickly become annoying.
Nursery rhymes are another simple beat you can teach your parrot. Try bringing these popular rhythms into your parrot’s vocabulary:
- “Mary had a little lamb.”
- “Jack and Jill went up the hill.”
- “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”
- “London Bridge is falling down.”
- “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes.”
Some nursery rhymes are more challenging than others to teach parrots, but if you stick with the simplest classics, you should find that your bird repeats them repeatedly.
Can Parrots Forget Words?
Once a parrot learns a word, it is likely locked into the bird’s vocabulary for life. This is why you must be careful about what you say around a parrot.
Just because parrots know a word doesn’t mean they’ll use it. If a parrot says something you disapprove of, ignore it and don’t use the word again around them – and, of course, teach them alternatives.
If a parrot isn’t getting the response or attention it desires from using one word, it’ll often switch to another. Unfortunately, if a parrot enjoys the sound of a word, it may never stop using it.