Talking birds

22 April, 20160 Comments


Is it true that some birds are able to talk?

The answer is clear. There are birds that actually talk even though they lack vocal cords.

Most of the birds of the Psittacidae family are able to repeat sounds and imitate human voice if they are properly trained. Not in vain the parrots are considered, along with the corvidae, the most intelligent birds. Nevertheless, there are species which ability to imitate sounds and human speech is remarkably superior. Among all the talking birds, the African Grey is the most important.

In order to better understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to explain first some concepts. For example, what do we refer to when we state that there are birds that can talk or imitate speech?

The Merriam Webster defines the word “speak” as the ability to say words. In the case of people, speaking refers to the communication using words, but in the case of birds, they can only imitate human speech. That is the main difference: the purpose of speaking is to communicate with others.

We should then study whether birds’ aim is to communicate or they merely imitate sounds. Nevertheless, opinions about this matter remain controversial.

Species of Talking Birds

Parrots, these colourful and exotic birds, come from tropical and subtropical areas. There is a vast array of species. Among them:


The budgerigar or Melopsittacus undulatus is found in Australia. They are commonly known as budgies. It is the one of the most popular pets around the world just after cats and dogs.

Although this little and noisy bird is not a skilled imitator of human speech and needs a lot of training to make him repeat a word, it is a great imitator of other animals’ sounds. Besides, it is a very talented, intelligent, friendly and noisy pet.


Macaws are found in South America and are characterized by their size (they can measure about 90 cm and the average weight is about 1 kg) and their bright red, yellow and blue plumage.

Macaws are very social animals which live in little flocks. What makes these talking birds so desired as pets is their ability to remember and repeat a lot of the words that they hear in their daily life. Blue and gold Macaws are, without a doubt, the most talkative macaw. They only need attention and patience.


These parrots are found in several regions of Oceania. They are easily recognisable by their showy crests. Although the most commons are the white ones, there are also black and pink cockatoos.

About their ability to make sounds, the blood-stained cockatoo is the best one repeating human speech, about all young males. If that’s the case, they will soon start repeating easy words. As the budgies, cockatoos are very friendly.

Eclectus roratus or eclectus parrot

As the cockatoo, the eclectus parrot is from Oceania. The Eclectus has an exotic look due to their bright colours. Males and Females can be told apart by the colour or their plumage and beak. Females have red feathers and black beak while males are green with orange beak. They are not bad repeating and memorising some words. In fact, sometimes they are compared to African greys because of their ability of repeating words and even full sentences. They are able to pronounce words well enough and even understand some words’ meaning.


Amazons can be found all over South America. They are extroverted, but also temperamental animals. However, given its great ability to say words or even some sentences and great sociability, the amazon makes a great pet. Some owners are impressed by how their amazons easily learn by heart and repeat whole sentences that they heard on tv.

African Grey

As we said before, African Greys stand out among other parrots, about all, for being the best reproducing human speech. It is also the best selling parrot in the world.

There are two different subspecies of African Grey: the African Grey with red tail (Psittacus erithacus) and its cousin the African Grey Timneh (Psittacus erithacus Timneh). As the name suggests, this species come from Africa.

This black beak parrot has a plumage in different shades of grey although its characteristic tail is red. The African Grey is a medium size parrot (its weight varies from 500 to 600 grams) and can live about 70 or 90 years.

About the ability to talk of the Psittacus erithacus, some researches proved that they are able of not only reproducing human speech, but also of linking words with their meanings and creating simple sentences. There are African Greys that can even repeat more than a thousand different words. That may be the reason why it is considered the most intelligent bird known. Nevertheless, in order to fully develop this ability, African Greys will need a strict training.

Another well appreciated characteristic of the African Grey is the ability to stablish social links. However, it should not be taken for granted as this species tends to became withdrawn and tend to get unsettled if subject to changes. Nevertheless, with the right training and education, they can become an inseparable companion.

This way, any of these talking birds would make a perfect friend. However, we need to take into account that the African Greys are the best option if what you seek is a talker parrot .

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