Teach Your Bird To Talk

Exotic birds fascinate us because they often speak with us in our own tongue. Dr. Irene Pepperburg’s studies with her grey parrot, Alex, demonstrated that African greys had an extraordinary capacity to employ suitable phrases in association with events or things. Some birds cry out to family members and pets by name, while others bark and meow. What about your bird’s ability to communicate?

Your bird’s peculiarities and loving nature are what distinguishes it. Love your bird for these characteristics and consider talking to be a “extra.” However, you may encourage your bird to talk by doing the following:

Barbara, who has worked with birds for decades, recommends recording yourself talking and singing to your bird, and then recording the bird talking and singing as he learns to copy you. “Have a good time! The birds will enjoy hearing your chatter back and forth. As you advance, make additional tapes.”

In most circumstances, buying an unweaned bird is not recommended (very difficult for novice handlers), but you may start training your bird to speak at any age. Say the phrases you want your bird to repeat when you enter into the room and it stares at you. Every few weeks, change the sentence. Some birds, such African greys, may take a year to learn to communicate unless they are very gifted or live with another excellent talker.

Speak quietly to your bird. Sing. Alter the tone of your voice. Take note of how its eyes dilate and pin, and how it strives to imitate you.

During their speech-training years, avoid pairing your birds. Most paired birds would speak in their own language rather than yours, but there is no better instructor than another bird. When one bird is an expert talker, chances are the new pet will pick up on it. When birds do not share the same cage and vocalize to attract one other’s attention, the results seem to be the best. If you have an only bird, try recording an audiotape of a friend’s chatty bird and playing it for yours.

To assist your bird learn to speak, use specifically recorded speech training cassettes and CDs available at pet stores, but also continue your own lessons. When you leave the home, leave the television or radio on. Your bird may wow you by learning a commercial jingle or cartoon sound effects!

When your bird learns a new word or phrase, repeat it repeatedly to encourage it. Reward your bird with a special food, toy, or extra care. When you start emulating the bird, you’ll know you’ve succeeded!

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