Trained to Talk

Teaching a bird to talk is a lot of fun and is a great source of mental stimulation for your feathered friend.

Cockatoos and ring-neck parrots are arguably the easiest species to teach however, cockatiels and budgerigars can also be willing students and have been known to develop a vocabulary of up to 20 words.

When you are ready to start, take your bird out of the cage and sit in a quiet room where there are no distractions. The bird should be sitting calmly on a small perch with you sitting on a chair facing it at head height, or sitting on your hand.

The secret to teaching new words is based on repetition and praise. Start with words that are easy, clear and concise such as: "hello", "hi", or "what's up?" and gently repeat them to your bird - always being enthusiastic. Your bird may respond by letting out a soft "squeak" or "chirp". Any response is a step forward so be sure to lavish plenty of praise (and maybe even a treat) for its efforts.

It could take several weeks for your feathered friend to learn its first word but, once it has been mastered, you will be surprised at how easily new words will come.

Remember, birds are surprisingly perceptive animals and your frustration and anger will soon be replicated by your bird. If you feel yourself getting annoyed, it is best to finish up the session and start again the following day.

Cockatiel1As with most training, teaching birds to talk takes lots of time and patience from both you and your bird. The secret is to keep your training sessions regular but short and sharp. A couple of training sessions each day - each lasting 10 to 15 minutes - should be plenty.

Your own level of concentration is usually a fair indication of when to call it a day i.e. if you are getting frustrated or finding the session a little monotonous, chances are your bird is too.