Can Parakeets Talk? (+How to Teach ’em)

If you’ve recently become the happy pet parent of a budgie, you’ve probably asked yourself this question: Can parakeets talk?

They sure can, but you need to be able to teach them. There are many parakeet songs that can let you know if your budgie is feeling happy or sad, but if you want to teach your pet bird to pronounce certain words, you need to have a routine set in place.

In this post, we’re looking at everything you might ever want to know about parakeet sounds and teaching them how to speak. 

Can parakeets talk?

Yes, parakeets can talk, but they mostly do so with each other. If you didn’t get your budgie while it was younger than 1 year of age, you might not be able to teach it how to talk, by which we mean human words.

This happens because parakeets have an imprinting process in place while they are young, which disappears as they grow older. Female parakeets are less likely to learn how to talk compared to males, and the latter are more vocal than the former. 

As for how much they communicate with each other and their human companions, parakeets are very talkative, and they need to be since they have a social nature. 

Parakeets make a variety of budgie sounds and each of them means something different. They’re known to be very vocal, and if you got your parakeets in a pair, you would constantly hear budgies chirping in your home. 

How do parakeets talk?

Parakeet talking sounds aren’t the same as human sounds. In fact, the anatomy of a parakeet makes it impossible for him or her to pronounce words in the same way we do. Since they are not equipped with vocal cords, they can’t produce sounds using their larynx, like people.

Instead, the parakeet beak and airways are in charge of producing the sounds. They do this both while mimicking the sounds and words that we’re trying to teach them, but also when they communicate with their pair or other birds. 

Even though there is a myth according to which budgies are intelligent due to them being able to pick up words easily, the truth is that they are only mimicking the sounds of humans. They are not capable of grasping the meaning of the words. 

However, a well-trained budgie will repeat the words and sounds that his or her pet parent makes and can even be taught to make them thanks to triggers, like a hand gesture, for example.

Males are more likely to speak than females

Do parakeets talk in different amounts depending on their gender? Yes, they do. Most males tend to make more parakeet noises compared to their female counterparts, and they are also capable of learning how to talk a lot easier and faster. 

But this happens in a wide range of other bird species, not just in parakeets. For example, male cockatiels are more talkative than female cockatiels, too. It’s likely that this occurs because males have to attract the attention of females for reproductive reasons.

So, in this case, if you want to teach your parakeet how to talk, it’s a good idea to get a young male rather than a young female. If you do not want to deal with the hassle of this teaching process, you can always get a parakeet from a breeder who has already taught him or her how to talk.

Common parakeet sounds

There is a wide range of parakeet sounds you will hear in your home if you decide to become a budgie parent. You should consider learning how to make the difference between them to know the standard parakeet sounds meaning. 

This can be important because a happy and healthy parakeet makes some sounds, whereas an unhappy or alarmed one makes different ones. Here are the most common ones you will come across. 

  • Talking – Parakeets talk to each other using a very broad range of sounds from a parakeet chirp, a contact call and chatter to trills and more. 
  • Whistling – This is a sound used by a parakeet to express its happiness. Some parakeet parents train their budgies to whistle along with them or whistle after a tune.  
  • Screaming – This is a somewhat untypical sound that can indicate pain, distress, or even fear. 
  • Singing – It’s quite common for you to hear singing parakeets if they are in a good mood. But they can make other noises, such as chatter when they are upset, or they can grind their beaks as they prepare to go to sleep. 

Hearing your parakeets chirping isn’t uncommon, either, and it also means that your budgies are happy.

Clicks are another type of parakeets noises that is quite common and also an indication of happy budgerigars.

How to teach a parakeet to talk?

Make sure your parakeet is happy

Before beginning your talking training, you should make sure that your pet bird is both perfectly healthy and happy. If your budgie’s cage is not big enough, if he’s not getting enough food, or if there is a medical problem affecting his health, he isn’t going to be willing to learn anything new. 

Signs of a happy budgie range from plenty of energy to constant vocalizations. It’s not unusual for pet bird parents to hear a parakeets song once in a while. Budgies that live with a pair are usually happier than those that are adopted or acquired alone. (1)

If you notice that your pet parakeet is lethargic, he doesn’t seem to want to communicate with anyone, and he starts having bad-looking feathers, it’s time to go to the vet, not learn how to talk. An unhealthy budgie isn’t going to be able to focus on the learning process anyway. 

Time of the day is important

Speaking birds can learn new words a lot better and more effectively when they are trained early in the morning. This happens because their brains are well-rested after sleeping during the night, so the information is memorized easier. 

Parakeets are also known to have a lot of energy in the morning, be alert, and have a fresh mind. Although it is paramount for you to socialize with your budgie all day long, especially if he or she doesn’t have a pair, doing so in the morning will ensure a smoother learning process. 

It might be a good idea to let your parakeet have the first meal of the day before you start the vocal training. A pet bird that was well-fed is far more receptive to learning new things, whether that be tricks or new words than one that doesn’t have anything in its stomach.

Repeat simple words

Some of the sounds birds make can mimic human speech, but there are limits to any learning process. Due to their lack of vocal cords, some birds can’t learn how to pronounce complicated words. 

That is why you should speak to your budgie as if he or she were a young child. Name the things in your parakeet’s living environment clearly. Moreover, make sure that you say ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ to your budgie every time you come and go.

If you want your pet parakeet to learn its name, you should choose a simple and resonant one. Try to aim for names that don’t have a lot of syllables and that are short and easy to pronounce. 

You can also teach your budgie to say ‘Thank you’ by repeating it every time you offer a treat or a specific dish of parakeet bird food.

One word at a time

Do budgies talk in sentences? Unfortunately, they do not. That is why it’s better to focus on one important word that you want your parakeet to learn first and only then add several more to the learning process. 

As a general rule, parakeets are better when it comes to learning consonants such as d, k, p, t, or b. A phrase that contains a lot of vowels can be quite challenging for the bird to learn. 

Speak clearly when you talk to your budgie and make sure that you repeat the words you want to teach time and again. Like people and other animals, pet birds can get a little confused if you try to teach them too many words or phrases at the same time. 

Over a period of seven to eight weeks, you should aim at teaching your pet budgie one simple word. Once the bird seems to have memorized it, you can focus on another, and then another, and so on.

Use treats

You’ve probably become familiar with the range of parakeets noises that they make when they get a reward for being good. But did you know that treats play an essential role in teaching your budgie how to talk?

Whenever your pet bird seems to be making significant progress, you should reward it, usually with a piece of fruit or with a new toy. This mechanism is capable of reinforcing the budgie’s behavior and it essentially tells the parakeet that a treat is due if they do a good job and say the word.

Millet sprays can make a great treat for the learning techniques that you will employ, but so can carrots and celery. The latter is especially healthy since they do not contain too much sugar and they provide your pet bird with essential nutrients. 

If your parakeet loves to get out of his cage and investigate the rest of the room, you can let your pet bird out as a reward instead.

Build a routine

Consistency is key when it comes to teaching your parakeet how to talk. If you don’t create a plan and stick to the same routine as often as possible, your pet bird can get confused or can forget the words that you might have taught them. 

Needless to say, it takes some time, effort, and commitment to get a parakeet to learn a word or several, so you should make sure that you tend to your teaching task every morning. 

Some birds can get enthusiastic when they notice that you’re content with how they are doing and make a variety of happy parakeet sounds.

You also have to be patient enough. Moreover, if you have adopted or acquired a pet parakeet that’s older than the age of 1, it might take you more time to teach it how to pronounce words. Keep your expectations realistic, but don’t stop trying, even though some budgies never learn how to talk.

Respond to activities

A big part of understanding how to teach a parakeet to talk is interacting with the budgie all the time. Some types of behaviors are easier to interpret than others. 

For example, you might be able to tell, after a while, you’ve had your pet parakeet, that he or she needs to go to the bathroom, wants to go to bed, or just needs a snack. 

Instead of just generally making sure that your parakeet’s needs are satisfied, talk to your budgie when you notice that something has to be addressed. If you see that your budgie’s feeling sleepy, talk to the bird as you cover the cage with a cloth.

If you notice that your parakeet is hungry, talk to your budgie as you give it a snack or a dish of food. Can you train parakeets to talk if they feel uncomfortable when you’re around? No. So getting your budgie to feel at ease by talking to it constantly is the best solution.

FAQ

How long does it take a parakeet to talk?

Getting your parakeet talking can take a long time, from several weeks to two months and more. Some budgies can learn a new word in a matter of six months, but once they do, teaching them others is easier.

How do you teach a parakeet to talk?

Create a routine where you teach your parakeet a specific word for 30 minutes every day. Use treats when they manage to pronounce it. Don’t give up if they seem to take a long time to learn.

Do parakeets understand what you say?

A talking parakeet can understand what you mean when you speak, but it’s more a matter of tone and how you say the words rather than the message itself. For instance, some budgies can understand when you tell them you love them based on your tone.

Do parakeets like music?

Budgies like music that is serene, quiet, and peaceful. They’re known to hate listening to loud music, so the genre that they like the most is soft classical. 

At what age do parakeets start talking?

Getting a budgie talking can be far easier if you acquire the pet bird from a young age. They can be taught how to speak when they’re 3-4-months-old, so with a 2-month learning process, they can start talking around the age of 6 months.

Can parakeets learn their name?

The first step in your parakeet talking training can be teaching your pet bird its own name. They are capable of learning their name just like cats or dogs.

Do parakeets recognize their owners?

Properly domesticated and trained budgies can recognize their owners. It’s not unusual to hear parakeets singing when their pet parent gets back home from work for this reason.

Do parakeets like to watch TV?

Yes, and it’s important to let them watch TV as they can hear new words. If you have just one parakeet, leaving the TV on is a good idea since it will keep it company. 

Can female parakeets talk?

Female parakeets can make the same budgie noises as males, but they are known to learn words at a slower pace. Some never learn to speak, but younger females have a higher chance of doing it. 

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