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Teaching a Parrot to Talk

Obviously we can only speak from our own experiences and thus what has worked for us may not necessarily work for you.

We have been asked the question “How did you get your Quaker parrot to talk?” so many times that it was the main reason for creating this website; plus we thought Pluto was pretty special and wanted to make him a mini-celeb. 🙂

The biggest secret to our success is “involvement” and “excitement”. Pluto is involved in most of our daily activities. He is positioned in a prominent area of the house where he can see and/or hear us. We talk to him as we walk past the cage, or call out to him from other rooms if he is asking us what we are doing.

We try to talk to him normally – it is easy to put on a “baby” voice – and involve him in general conversations. This way he feels he is part of the “flock” and is comfortable around us. From what we have read, if a Quaker Parrot is not comfortable in their environment they are unlikely to want to communicate with people in their surroundings.

Being excitable around Pluto was a huge influence in getting him to talk. When he would say or do something that we wanted we would get so excited that if someone was peering through the window it would have almost been embarrassing. Not a big deal to us as we are the embarrassing type anyway. lol

Of course when we heard Pluto speak his first words we were so excited and would jump and down and tell him what a good boy he was. His first “really” clear words were “What a good boy” that eventually turned into “What a good good good good boy!” (The “good good good” can go on for ages before boy is added to the end.)

We found by getting excited about certain things this really increased the uptake of new words. He was constantly trying to say new words to impress us.

Now though he has such a big head that he creates his own excitement when he knows he has practiced something to perfection; he will squeal and squawk and tell us that he is such a good boy.


In the beginning, we were constantly trying to work out what on earth he was saying! He mumbled a lot and we would argue over what we thought he was trying to say. As Pluto practiced his newfound knowledge we would gradually understand what he was trying to say.

At this point it is important to clearly repeat the words they are trying to say straight after you hear them say it. We think this has certainly helped Pluto speak clearly.

Pluto will sit with me on the couch and we will go over his favourite words at the time. Either Pluto or I will begin with a word and I will say it and then he will say it. He knows that when the ads are over it is quiet time… 😛

We have also noticed that he will practice the same word using many inflections and then using different inflections in his speech when communicating with us depending on his mood at the time.

Words you don’t want them to know

Fortunately for us, Pluto has not picked up any words that we wish he never learnt however it does happen!

The advice we have leant from others in this situation is to never react to these words. By reacting you are reinforcing the word and they are likely to continue using it.

This doesn’t mean that they will never say it again but you can only hope that by teaching them other words that you get excited about and do react to that they will eventually forget about the words you don’t want them to know.

Talking parrot Tapes

Personally, we think that it is unlikely that a Quaker parrot will learn much from a tape that is continually repeating the same words over and over.

The whole reason they talk is to get your attention and to tell you what they want! They want you to communicate with them and play with them and how would a tape do that?

A tape is unable to have a conversation which ultimately is the desired ability we want our parrots to have. We love the fact that we can walk in the door and Pluto will say “Hello, How are ya going?” and “Bye, Bye” when we wave and walk out the door.

With a tape – we believe the only result you could get if any is a parrot that repeats some words that it learnt.

So the main ingredients to teaching a parrot to talk

Involve them in your day to day activities – put the washing on together, tidy the house, make the beds, watch TV, make them apart of your family and make sure they feel comfortable

Get EXCITED! – really excited – who cares what you look like – it’s fun! Pluto and I dance together and clap and sing songs.

Talk to them like they are another person – ask them what they are doing, tell them about your day – even read them a story!

Clarify new words – help to clarify new words they have picked up by repeating what they have said clearly and slowly.

Don’t rely on talking tapes – you are the flock not the tape – it is you the parrot will want to communicate with.

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