Course 8: The Science & Wonder Of Birds Talking

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Many parrots can talk, but how do they do it? Can our parrots understand us? What do the noises parrots make mean? Discover all this and more in the following articles.

African grey parrot

Do Parrots Understand What You Are Saying?

Can birds understand what their people are saying and/or understand what he or she is saying? Dr. Irene Pepperberg says the answer depends on the type of interactions parrots have with their owners. Discover how the way you interact with your feathered companion, as well as flock dynamics, can influence parrot communication.

Congo African Grey Parrot on a cage

How Dr. Pepperberg Taught Parrots To Use Speech Appropriately

Early on in her behavioral research with Alex the African grey, Dr. Irene Pepperberg began incorporating what she refers to as the model/rival (M/R) system to teach a parrot how to speak and how to use speech appropriately, which also allows the bird to verbally communicate requests.

budgie parakeet on branch; inset shows diagram of brain

Why Parrots Can Talk

From budgerigars to African Greys to macaws, nine parrot species in a university study reveal why certain bird species are better at imitating sounds than other birds. Hint: It’s got a lot to do with the structure of the brain.

close up of budgie / parakeet on finger

Small Birds Do Talk!

Bigger birds aren’t the only ones talking. In fact, some of the smaller parrots are capable of mimicking human speech and can even amass impressive vocabularies. Here’s a look at some of the tiny talkers of the pet bird world.

Decipher Your Pet Parrot’s Vocalizations

Parrots can be extremely vocal critters, and you can find out a lot about your pet parrot’s mood by the sounds it makes. What’s behind that laugh, the gibberish talk, or why the ear-piercing shriek?