What Birds Can I Teach to Talk?

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For some birds, impressing us with the ability to fly isn't enough. These birds need to wow us with their ability to talk too. Many bird species have an incredible ability to speak, whether they're saying "Polly wants a cracker" or mimicking some phrase we dropped within their hearing. While there is no guarantee that a bird will speak (unless you adopt a bird that already talks), there are several bird species that are known for their speaking ability. Read on to learn all about these talented talkers.


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African Grey

This bird is the most popular of the talking parrots, and they're known for their intelligence and ability to learn an extensive vocabulary. Some even believe they have the ability of a human toddler to learn language concepts. It is important for African Greys to have plenty of independent play with toys at a young age. This ensures they're well-adjusted and don't vocalize excessively or become destructive.

Quaker Parrot


Also known as the Monk Parakeet, the Quaker Parrot is a medium-sized bird that can be as vocal as African Greys. They can learn environmental noises as well as large vocabularies, and they are intelligent and social creatures. Not all Quaker Parrots speak, and it is up to them to decide when they speak and what they want to say. They are gentle birds and make good pets for young people. Be sure to check if Quaker Parrots are legal in your area though – they are outlawed in some states due to threats to crops and native birds.


These birds can also develop extensive vocabularies, and only the males of the species are known for talking. They can require a substantial amount of work from their owners to learn to speak, but they are smart birds and many of them pick up language relatively quickly. Their voices can be soft and they can speak quickly, but working with the birds regularly or exposing them to television or radio can greatly improve their speaking voices. Indian Ringneck Parakeets These intelligent, beautiful birds often possess a remarkably clear speaking voice. They can also develop a large vocabulary, but they don't always imitate the pitch of human voices. They need to be handled often to prevent from being bored (the doldrums can cause these birds to be destructive). They are known for being affectionate and make great birds for attentive pet owners.



Cockatiels are known for whistling and mimicking environmental sounds, and with the proper care and attention, they can also learn to speak words. They need a lot of interaction to remain tame, and they should be played with and talked to every day for their happiness – and to improve their vocal ability.


Known for their excellent speaking ability, these birds require a significant amount of time and commitment from their owners. They live for many years so be sure to factor that into your pet-adopting plans. The Yellow Naped Amazons are famous for their speaking ability and their knack for imitating human speech. The Yellow Crowned Amazon also has excellent speaking ability and – bonus! – they're far less likely to nip their owners. Blue Fronted Amazons love to be the center of attention and perform for their owners, but they can be loud and might not be a good pet for those in apartments or cramped living situations. Like all parrots, these birds need plenty of attention from their owners in order to avoid boredom and self-destructive behavior.


Bird Channel: Best Talking Parrots
About.com: How Can I Choose a Bird that Will Talk?
PetMD: Top 10 Talking Birds

About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.