How to teach your bird to talk – some tips for you

Teaching Your Pet Bird To Talk

Pet birds can learn to talk.  The information below has worked for us with training budgies, cockatiels, barrabands and galahs to talk.  Cockatiels, however, do tend to be more talented whistlers than talkers and have the ability to learn many tunes.

It’s easiest to train or teach your bird to talk when it’s really young – the younger the better.  Cockatiels and budgies over 6 months of age will require a lot more work and patience on your part, whereas barrabands up to 18 months should still produce good results.

Unlike people, the males are naturally more chatty and vocal than the female birds and are therefore normally more likely to learn to talk.

For training:

  • One feathered friend only; a companion bird will distract the ‘student’ bird and make training virtually impossible.
  • Only one person to teach your pet bird – preferably the person it knows best.
  • Birds respond best to a child or woman’s voice because of the higher pitch.
  • To ensure you have your bird’s undivided attention use a quiet room with absolutely no distractions: radio, television, people, mirrors, toys, food, other pet birds or pets, outside birds.
  • Twice daily training is required, best first thing in the morning and early evening.
  • Each lesson should last around ten minutes.
  • Start with “Hello” and your bird’s name, eg “Hello Eddie”.  Repeat this over and over, slowly and clearly using the same tone of voice each time to ensure consistency.
  • Say the phrase repeatedly whenever you interact with your bird throughout the day -uncovering the cage, cleaning the cage, walking by, coming into the room.
  • Do not move on to new words or phrases until your bird has mastered “Hello Eddie”.
  • Then you can try “How are you”, “Pretty boy”, “Who’s a pretty boy”, etc.  Still include the original phrase, “Hello Eddie”, as part of your training.

Some extra tips:

  • Training can take place with your bird either in or out of its cage.
  • If your bird is tame this should make speech lessons easier simply because of the trust it already has in you.
  • Do not rush your bird – all in good time!
  • If your pet bird does not appear to be giving you full attention at training time you can cover the cage leaving only one area open where it can see you for training.
  • When choosing words to teach your bird keep in mind that they tend to master words ending in vowels, such as e, o and u, quicker than those that don’t, and have difficulty with the letters m and n.
  • Training tapes are available (you can buy these or make up your own).
  • Offer your pet bird some of its favorite food on completion of your training sessions.
  • Other members of your household can assist with training by saying the word you and your bird are currently working on whenever they interact with it – however only this word and in a tone as near to yours as possible.  Do not let them confuse your bird by trying to teach anything new.
  • For cockatiels – they can learn to whistle tunes.  Do not however introduce this into the equation!  It is best to start teaching your cockatiel to talk first rather than to whistle.  Otherwise, your cockatiel will more than likely ignore its speech training and whistle constantly once it knows some tunes.  If after time you realize your cockatiel is not going to be a talker you may want to start on its whistling lessons.

Note that it may take up to a year for your bird to master a few words and some birds never learn to talk.  A lot of repetition, time and patience is required!

Phrases to teach your pet bird:


How are you?

Love you (name)

Who’s a pretty boy

Who’s a pretty parrot

Quick quick

Where do you want to go?

Bye bye

Night night

Where’s (name)?

Kiss kiss


Wanna scratch?