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How to Teach a Parakeet to Talk: 9 Easy Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Woman holding an Alexandrine parakeet

The budgerigar, or parakeet, is the most popular companion bird. There’s so much to like about them. They’re cute, active, friendly, and easily tamed. Parakeets are an excellent choice for a first pet for your child. Of course, there’s also their talking ability. The Guinness World Records gave the top honor to a budgie named Puck with a vocabulary of 1,728 words!

The parakeet is an intelligent bird that’s chatty by nature. Birds talk by mimicking sounds they hear in the environment, including other avian species. This species usually lives in flocks. Teaching your pet to communicate begins with becoming your bird’s stand-in feathered friend.

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Before You Start

Ideally, your parakeet is a young bird. That will provide an excellent opportunity for bonding and building trust. That’s imperative if you want your pet to pay attention to you and what you’re saying. This species is easy to breed in captivity, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a hand-raised bird. However, it’s not essential to start with one; it just makes the process of building rapport smoother.

Spend time with your pet daily, talking softly to them. Familiarity will lay the foundation for trust. Ensure your time together is positive. Patience is critical. Some parakeets learn quicker than others. Refrain from using harsh words. Playtime should always be upbeat. We also suggest only teaching your parakeet words with a G audience in mind.

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The 9 Tips on How to Teach a Parakeet to Talk

1. Start the Lesson in a Quiet Room

The first thing you must do is to put the focus on you. That means a quiet room with no distractions. If you have more than one parakeet, you should work with one bird alone at a time. Otherwise, the two will chirp and tweet to each other and ignore you. You should aim for a short 15-minute session to start. Also, ensure your pet isn’t tired.

  • Tip: Morning is an excellent time for a talking lesson.
parakeet bird perching by the window
Photo Credit: UniqSnaps, Shutterstock

2. Pick a Short Word to Start

Short, one-syllable words starting with a consonant are easy for your parakeet to learn. Your pet will naturally want to fit in with their new flock. Your job is to make it a straightforward process with a simple word. Remember that songbirds often have a few choice snippets they frequently repeat. They also mimic their parents and other birds.

3. Create Word Associations

A parakeet will likely repeat words they hear in the household without much prompting. The trick with teaching your pet to talk is to make associations between what they’re saying. That will provide welcome mental stimulation and make the experience more rewarding for you and your avian companion. For example, you can say “Hi!” when you uncover your budgie’s cage in the morning.

derbyan parakeet bird perching
Photo Credit: Grisha Bruev, Shutterstock

4. Repeat the Word

The chances are your parakeet might not catch on after the first lesson. Repeating the word is part of the process. It’s worth noting that birds don’t vocalize like humans. Directed airflow through their syrinx makes the sounds. This structure is located where the trachea splits into two branches. Letting your pet watch you say the word can keep their interest and perhaps encourage them to mimic you.

Tip: You can’t repeat a word too often.

5. Reward Your Parakeet When They Say the Word

Mimicking is in your parakeet’s wheelhouse. Your job is to give your pet a reason to say. There’s no better way than rewarding your bird with a treat. You can offer your pet a small piece of apple or banana when they say the word. Once your parakeet figures out how to talk, you can teach them the name of what you’re giving them to create another positive association.

indian ring-necked parakeet bird enjoying a treat
Photo Credit: lucsim75, Shutterstock

6. Move on to the Next Word

We recommend sticking with the first word until your pet successfully repeats it a few times. Don’t be tempted to move on because you’re tired of saying “Hi!” or “Bye!” We also suggest moving on to something that sounds different than the first word to avoid confusing your pet. It’ll also help as you create more associations.

7. Repeat Old Lessons

Once your parakeet has started building a vocabulary, you can repeat old lessons to ensure your pet retains them. It will help reinforce what you’ve already taught them and pave the way for learning new things. Learning requires repetition.

monk parakeet bird perching on girl's fingers
Image Credit: JWPhotoworks, Shutterstock

8. Try a Short Phrase

Don’t be afraid to test your pet. Parakeets are capable of more advanced tasks. Researchers have documented birds learning colors, objects, and shapes. Once your parakeet has made you a member of the flock, there’s no telling how much your budgie can learn. Teaching your bird to talk offers vital mental stimulation and entretainment.

9. Rinse and Repeat

You can continue to build your parakeet’s repertoire with new words, phrases, and associations. After all, budgerigars are relatively long-lived in captivity, with reports of birds living up to 21 years old. You can follow the same steps as you go, remembering to reinforce the old lessons along the way.

blue budgie mauve parakeet
Image Credit: UniqSnaps, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Parakeets are delightful pets that will bring fun and joy into your family’s life. Their talking ability sets them apart from other animal companions. It’s a rewarding experience to communicate with a bird in a way you can’t with a dog or cat. With patience and persistence, your parakeet will build an impressive vocabulary that will bring enrichment into their life.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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