Avian Expert Articles

Small Birds Do Talk!

Tiny Talkers

Green ParakeetWhen it comes to parrots and talking, the bigger parrots tend to be the most talked about, and for good reason. African greys and Amazon parrots, for example, can certainly hold their own when it comes to conversing with the people in their lives. But 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. But before we go there, keep in mind that although a bird has the ability to talk, it doesn’t mean the bird will choose to do so. And individual birds within a species might more inclined than others to be talkative (just like people!).

A parrot — especially a small parrot — is much more likely to talk if consistently talked to. Here’s a look at some of the tiny talkers of the pet bird world.

Budgies

These small parrots (yes, budgies, aka parakeets, are parrots) have the ability to mimic speech — again, the key word being “ability.” Just because a budgie (or any parrot for that matter) has the ability to talk doesn’t mean that the bird will be a talker. The tricky part is that your budgie might be talking up a storm but his words have fallen on deaf ears. Budgies, you see, can have a garbled, almost mechanical voice, and sometimes the voice sounds like a recording put on fast-forward. Years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing an audio tape of a budgie named Peanut who was saying, “Peanut want a cookie. Give Peanut a kiss. Kiss, kiss, kiss.” He sounded, well … like a demonic prank caller, but he was definitely talking! Not a believer in the budgie’s gift of gab? … check out this budgie’s video! 

Pacific parrotlet, pocket parrotParrotlets

It’s hard to imagine going down in size from a budgie, but with a parrotlet, you get just that. Parrotlets, while not as verbally blessed as budgies, can and, some do, talk. Again, we’re talking small parrot, which means a small voice. Some describe the parrotlet voice as chirpy, and others say it is robotic-sounding. How cute is that … your little feathered bot! Listen closely and you’ll here a parrotlet chatting it up.

Quaker parrotQuakers

One of the biggest guys in the tiny talker group is the quaker parrot; and this bird is said to be a born talker, with some breeders reporting that their quakers started to talk by the time they’re weaned. Quakers can rival the talking ability of larger parrots in terms of extensive vocabularies, albeit with a voice that sounds like a squeaky toy — check out this happy quaker.

IndianRingNeckByDickDanielsIndian Ring-necked Parakeets

OK, our tiny talkers are getting a little longer, a little bigger when we add ring-necked parakeets to the mix. But these long-tailed beauties are far too often left out of the conversation when talk turns to top talkers. Their voice tends to sound a bit cartoonish and squeaky (yet, cheerful!) than say a spot-on voice imitator like an African grey parrot. Here’s a fun video of a talking African ring-necked parakeet.

Some people share their home with a small bird that talks and don’t even know it! That’s because the bird might be inclined to talk when all is clear; as in no one is in earshot to hear. Maybe it’s time to breakout the recording before you leave home.

3 thoughts on “Small Birds Do Talk!

  1. Enjoyed the information, but I have a 2 yr old Conure and it’s a total pleasure. She goes to everyone and I can actually put her to sleep by rubbing her head. I have been trying to get her to talk… is there any hope?

  2. I own a very vocal cockatiel and he’ll turn his head away and make this gurgling noise while his long tail moves up and down all while he’s making that noise. Is he trying to talk or sing? Thank you, Irene

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