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Talking & Mimicry

Budgies are one of the best birds for mimicking human language. In fact, a budgie holds the world record for the largest vocabulary, and many budgies build very respectable vocabularies and will often use the words or phrases it learns in the appropriate context, demonstrating more than a superficial understanding of the words it learns. That being said, compared to some other birds, budgie voices tend to lack in volume and clarity compared to the mimicry of some larger parrots with more substantial lungs and respiratory tracts. Budgie voices tend to sound rough, similar to a voice played on a worn vinyl record, and may be very difficult to understand. An African Grey Parrot, Macaw, or Mynah bird can more easily mimic human language due purely to their larger size, providing a respiratory tract and vocalization range more similar to humans. If speaking ability is a critically important aspect of your pet bird, you should consider another species other than the budgie. Most budgies will not learn to speak, despite proper training, but some budgies do learn.

 

The speaking ability of a given bird will depend on its personality, exposure to its own species, exposure to the human language, and other factors. In general, males are better speakers. A male can learn to speak anywhere from a few to a hundred words, where as a female will usually not master more than a 10-15 words at most. Additionally, males are more likely than females to attempt to learn to mimic in the first place. Birds that are kept alone and are given a lot of interaction with a human tend to speak the best. There is no guarantee that a specific bird will be a good speaker or even mimic human language at all (see more in the Training section regarding how to train a budgie to speak). Sometimes owners purchase a budgie because they want it to speak and are very disappointed when it cannot. Even if you purchase a male, keep it alone, and talk to it for hours a day, it may not ever learn to mimic you. If this is unacceptable, you should pick a different pet. Still, budgies are one of the best pet choices for someone wishing to teach their pet to speak, particularly for a beginner.

In order to teach a bird to speak, first you must tame/train the bird, as described in that section of this website. A budgie is more likely to “talk” if it is (1) a male, (2) has been tamed/trained basically, and (3) is the only budgie in the household. If all of these are true, try repeating a single word over and over again. If your bird is interested in mimicking, you may see it move closer to your mouth to listen/watch you saying the word, or you can move your face close to the bird to encourage focus. If your budgie has the aptitude to learn vocabulary, he/she will learn to repeat. Some will only learn to mumble in an unintelligible manner, but some will learn to repeat the words with more clarity.

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