Parrots are one of the most traded exotic animals as pets in the world for their beauty and variety of colours, sizes and intelligence. In addition, these birds are also bred in captivity for their innate ability to reproduce almost any sound, including the human voice.

Do you want to know why parrots speak and how they do it, as well as which are the most popular species to have as a pet? In below, we answer these and other questions to get you absorbed in the topic if you decide to adopt a parrot as a pet.

Do all parrots speak?

In essence, all species of parrots, and even some subspecies, have the ability to imitate nature sounds and words. Of course, the ability to do so depends on the species, age and sex, as well as the environment where you are. Parrots are considered one of the most intelligent bird families on the planet. Most of them are highly social, living in flocks of dozens and even hundreds of them.

As already mentioned before, some species of parrots are more adept at reproducing human sounds and, among these, those who manage to do so are, for the most part, those who arrive at homes very young and undergo training from a principle to teach them to repeat words. Here is a list of the most popular parrot species for their ability to speak:

  • The African gray parrot or Psittacus erithacus, colloquially called yaco, is characterized by its surprising cognitive abilities and rapid training to learn to repeat words. They are good at picking up short sentences and repeating everyday sounds in their environment, such as the telephone.
  • Amazonian parrots, such as the yellow-naped, blue-fronted, white-fronted, green, red, blue and yellow macaws; they are highly sociable and are great learners of words and short phrases, which they repeat especially to get attention.
  • The eclectic parrot, or Eclectus roratus, is considered to be the species that speaks the best, capable of reproducing long and complex sentences, in addition to screaming, imitating animals and even sounds from its environment such as telephones, bells, among others.
  • The parakeet, or Melopsittacus undulates,is the second most commercialized animal in the world as a pet. Despite this, this species is not very skilled at imitating words; on the other hand, it is at reproducing sounds of other animals.
  • The cockatoo, or Cacatuidae, is one of the most exotic parrots that are marketed as pets. Their ability to learn to repeat words is impressive, especially if they learn it from a young age. In addition, this species of bird creates a bond with its caretaker that lasts for a lifetime.

Parrots are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. This makes them excellent companions for humans if you care for them properly and give them a good life. Be sure to read our article How to take care of a parrot and How to feed a parrot if you want to have one as a companion.

Why do parrots speak

The reality is that parrots do not speak, what they do is repeat words and sounds that they hear frequently in their environment. Parrots do not speak because, unlike humans, the words they repeat have no meaning to them, nor can they communicate independent ideas through the formation of meaningful sentences. Humans are the only animal species with the ability to speak.

On the other hand, parrots in captivity are not the only ones that can imitate sounds, as many species of parrots in the wild learn to repeat sounds that help them communicate with each other.

When it comes to parrots that live as pets, they have the ability to repeat sounds depending on the situation they are in, for example: a parrot can learn to say food if it associates it with the mealtime that its caregiver has intended for him, as long as he trains him to associate with positive motivations.

Parrots will also react by repeating words if they associate a sound with a repeated moment of satisfaction, such as the voice of their caretaker feeding them.

If you have a parrot and want to teach it to talk or are thinking of adopting one, don’t miss our article How to teach a parrot to talk.

How parrots imitate the human voice

Parrots can imitate the human voice thanks to a vocal organ called the syrinx, located in the trachea of ​​all birds. In some species of birds, this organ is what allows them to be able to imitate sounds as complex as that of the human voice, the sound of other animals or objects. Parrots are one of these species.

Although they do not have vocal cords, they have a unique respiratory system, as well as a particular use of the muscles of the trachea that allows them to imitate the sounds of their environment to communicate. The rounded tongue of parrots is another organ that helps them sound human. They move it at high speed, generating vibrations in the air that generate, within the syrinx, the sound they try to imitate.

For a parrot to mimic the human voice, however, it must be constantly exposed to it, especially from an early age, and experience satisfaction or rewards for doing so. Parrots are also known to mimic the human voice to please their keepers.

But the ability of parrots to mimic the human voice goes beyond a physiological faculty. According to research from the University of Nuke [1], parrots have a different brain structure than other animals. Its brain, much more complex than that of other species, has areas specially dedicated to the imitation of sounds. These areas are also the cause of parrots dancing to music.

If you want to read more articles similar to why do parrots talk, we recommend that you enter our Pets category.



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