Birds That Can Talk?

It’s no secret that talking birds make for popular pets. In fact, seeing a pet bird mimic human speech or perform a trick is what inspires many people to acquire a bird of their own. Some species have a greater capacity for speech than others, though no bird will learn to talk unless they can spend lots of quality time interacting with their humans and listening to repeated words and phrases. If you’re hoping to train a feathered friend to mimic your voice, here are eight of the best talking birds.

The highly intelligent African grey is often regarded as the best talking bird, with some amassing vocabularies of hundreds of words. There’s even research suggesting these parrots can use words in context to have simple conversations, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand what they’re saying.

Physical Characteristics: Mostly gray plumage with pale edging; black beak and bright red tail (Congo African grey); tan upper beak and maroon tail (Timneh African grey) While their voices tend to be a bit gravelly, budgies are capable of learning many words and phrases. Many Amazon parrots can learn to speak with exceptional clarity, and they generally have very sweet voices.

They bond closely with their caretakers, requiring lots of social interaction and ample space to play. Physical Characteristics: Green body; yellow head; red at the wing bend; tan beak; white rings around the eyes (double yellow-headed Amazon) Indian ringneck parakeets seem to have a gift for learning longer phrases, along with short words.

Physical Characteristics: Green plumage; blue tail; yellow underwings; males have black and rose rings around their necks Quaker parrots, also known as monk parakeets, are illegal in some parts of the United States because feral flocks have become invasive, so check local laws if you want to adopt one. While theyre usually not excessively noisy, Eclectus parrots can develop an extensive vocabulary of human words.

Some say a male Eclectus is typically easier to train while the female bird is more independent and consequently better able to handle stress . Arthur Morris/Getty Images Although they typically arent superb talking birds, cockatoos can pick up some words and phrases. They are very social and affectionatesometimes bordering on needyand caregivers should expect to spend hours each day interacting with their birds.

On the plus side, this bond makes cockatoos willing to practice tricks, including speech, with their humans.

What are some birds that can speak?

Songbirds and parrots are the two groups of birds able to learn and mimic human speech. However, it has been found that the mynah bird, part of the starling family, can also be conditioned to learn and create human speech. Pet birds can be taught to speak by their owners by mimicking their voice.

What type of bird can talk the best?

The highly intelligent African grey is often regarded as the best talking bird, with some amassing vocabularies of hundreds of words. There’s even research suggesting these parrots can use words in context to have simple conversations, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand what they’re saying.

What is the most talkative bird?

Amazon Parrots. There are many subspecies of the Amazon parrot, with several of them ranking high in speech capability. ….African Grey Parrots. Both the Congo and Timneh subspecies are known for being super intelligent. ….Parakeets. Parakeets are very popular pets, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Which bird is easiest to teach to talk?

African Grey Parrot. This African Grey is highly regarded as the most intelligent talking bird species. ….Indian Ringneck Parakeet. ….Budgerigar. ….Quaker Parakeet. ….Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot.

Parrots and ravens are among the most talented talking bird species in the world. Both can talk by mimicking words and phrases, though ravens are only likely to do so

While their abilities arent as advanced as parrots, crows, ravens, Australian magpies, starlings, and mockingbirds can talk. Myna birds can mimic human speech and boast a repertoire of around 100 words.

Because the cerebellum and cortex are located away from each other, theyre connected by a neural highway called the pontine nuclei, which transfers information between them. Researchers at the University of Alberta theorized that parrots, in particular, have large pontine nuclei, which is what allows them to talk in the same way as humans. However, they soon realized this wasnt true and discovered that, instead of pontine nuclei, they have a medial spiriform nucleus, which performs the same function and is only found in birds.

Researchers also found a correlation between the size of the cortex and medial spiriform nucleus, giving birds a more advanced pathway to becoming accomplished vocal learners and speakers. Birds have more cells in the pallium, which are the grey and white matter covering the upper surface of the cerebellum. Being part of a flock gives birds a better chance of survival as it provides them with protection from predators and allows them to forage for food together.

Birds dont have lips, teeth, or vocal cords, which is why its so intriguing that they can imitate human speech. Unlike other animals, birds match the sensory input from the cortex with the voluntary motor function the cerebellum handles to mimic what they hear. When owners repeatedly interact with their birds, they may gain some contextual awareness, but this all stems from behavior rather than an understanding of the meanings.

Crows have good memories and can recognize faces, which is why theyre able to copy human speech. Not only do myna birds whistle and screech, but they mimic human speech clearly and concisely, putting their abilities up there with parrots. Building a strong bond before you start teaching your myna bird is also an effective training technique, as it will be more willing to mimic what you say.

Theyre considered an invasive species, so theyre suitable to be kept as pets as long as theyre rescued and not bought. Not only do starlings talk, but they mimic the sounds of other animals, including goats, frogs, and cats. Starlings mimic to protect their territory and impress potential mates, incorporating a range of sounds into their songs.

Males mimic and sing more than females and boast a greater repertoire of vocalizations. Lyrebirds can mimic any sound, including human speech, chainsaws, car engines, and music. Australian magpies living in close proximity to humans talk and mimic speech.

You cant own Australian magpies as pets, and its illegal to traffic them outside of their native Australia. Magpies can also recognize the faces of humans and animals, highlighting the efficacy of their memories. A study published by Applied Animal Behavior Science found that they can use human speech in the same way as young children.

Their advanced cognitive skills make them popular pets and are why theyre regarded as Einsteins of the parrot world. Some African grey parrots amass a repertoire of well over 100 words, which they can use in context during conversations with their owners. Even leaving the TV or radio on around your African grey will encourage it to pick up new words and phrases.

Theyre also excellent talkers and singers, amassing an impressive repertoire of words that showcases their advanced mimicking abilities. They can pick up basic words and phrases, such as hello and pretty bird. The fewer syllables you teach them, the more your cockatiel will be able to repeat. However, if you start training them earlier than this, itll pick up far more words and phrases and can progress to more complicated sounds.

As long as they enjoy the learning process, cockatiels will attempt to repeat words and phrases. They can build a bank of human words and become chatty when theyve developed an extensive enough repertoire. There are various types of cockatoos, and while some are better than others, they all can learn words and phrases with consistent training from a young age.

A group of macaws was once removed from an English wildlife park because they swore at guests. The swearing didnt stop, so staff returned them to view to provide some light-hearted fun to guests. If youre wondering, can budgies talk? they possess an impressive repertoire of words, despite their small stature .

The key is to remain positive and not to get disheartened if your bird doesnt mimic words and phrases as quickly as youd like. Birds capable of speech tend to be sociable animals that enjoy crafting bonds with their owners. Once your bird trusts you and gets used to your voice, itll become comfortable and confident enough around you to start mimicking what you say.

Once youve created a bond with your bird, begin the training process by talking to it using simple words , such as: Hold the bird relatively close to your mouth to ensure that you have its full attention. Repeat your chosen word or phrase, saying it in a slow, clear, and concise way so that your bird can hear and understand.

While youre training your bird to speak, make it fun by offering treats and affection as a reward for repeating the word. Give your bird a wide variety of sounds to repeat to prevent fatigue and boredom. Another good idea is to play recordings of the words and phrases youd like to teach your bird.

You can leave the radio and TV on to help your bird to start understanding sounds and phrases.

Talking birds are birds that can mimic the speech of humans. There is debate within the scientific community over whether some talking parrots also have some cognitive understanding of the language. Birds have varying degrees of talking ability: some, like the corvids, are able to mimic only a few words and phrases, while some budgerigars have been observed to have a vocabulary of almost 2,000 words. The hill myna, a common pet, is well known for its talking ability and its relative, the European starling, is also adept at mimicry.[1] Wild cockatoos in Australia have been reported to have learned human speech by cultural transmission from ex-captive birds that have integrated into the flock.[2]

Lacking vocal cords, birds are thought to make tones and sounds using throat muscles and membranes the syrinx in particular. There are likely to be limitations on the sounds that birds can mimic due to differences in anatomical structures, such as their lacking lips.

It has been suggested that mimicry amongst birds is almost ubiquitous and it is likely that eventually, all species will be shown to be able to have some ability to mimic extra-specific sounds (but not necessarily human speech). [7] However, it has been found that the mynah bird, part of the starling family, can also be conditioned to learn and create human speech. This phenomenon has been observed in public parks in Sydney , Australia , where wild parrots utter phrases such as “Hello darling!”

[9] The Abyssinian lovebird ( Agapornis taranta ) can talk if trained at an early age; however, they only rarely develop into competent talkers. [23] Between 1954 and 1962, a budgerigar named Sparkie Williams held the record for having the largest vocabulary of a talking bird; at his death, he knew 531 words and 383 sentences. [3] In 1995, a budgerigar named Puck was credited by Guinness World Records as having the largest vocabulary of any bird, at 1,728 words.

The clarity of their speech has been compared to that of amazon parrots although they may not learn extensive vocabularies. A Domestic or Atlantic canary ( Serinus canaria forma domestica ) named Pinchi, who lived in 1966 from 2-3 months of age with a resident of the city of Leningrad ( USSR ), learned to imitate the human speech of his owner-educator and weave it into his song. In 1976, copies of this record were attached to the book by A. S. Malchevsky and co-authors “Birds in front of a microphone and a camera”, and were also sold separately.

[37] Their ability at mimicry is so great that strangers have looked in vain for the human they think they have just heard speak. Several of the theories will apply to only some species due to social structure, habitat and behavioural ecology. It has been suggested that (general) mimicry of non-bird related sounds is simply a mistaken attempt to copy species-specific calls.

Birds raised in captivity might mimic humans, particularly their owners, to gain acceptance as a member of the family (flock). The territorial song of lyrebirds is relatively simple and substantially different from that of the sounds they mimicincluding human speech. One proposed [ citation needed ] function for (general) mimicry is that mimics have evolved to have a wide repertoire of vocalisations to increase their reproductive success.

Some birds, such as the Australian magpie, mimic only those noises it hears whilst in its territory. It has been suggested that birds with complex social organisation may develop an auditory map of their territory, as well as visual, and that mimicking facilitates this process. Some in the scientific community are skeptical of Pepperberg’s findings, pointing to Alex’s communications as operant conditioning .

[45] Critics point to the case of Clever Hans , a horse whose owner claimed could count, but who instead was actually understanding subtle cues from him. [46] In another case, Nim Chimpsky , a chimpanzee, was thought to be using language, but there is some debate over whether he simply imitated his teacher. [46] Dr. Herbert Terrace, who worked with Nim Chimpsky, says he thinks Alex performed by rote rather than using language; he calls Alex’s responses “a complex discriminating performance”, adding that in every situation, “there is an external stimulus that guides his response.”

[46] However, supporters of Alex mention that Alex was able to talk to and perform for anyone involved in the project as well as complete strangers who recorded findings unassisted and during first contact with the bird, making the arguments of rote learning and operant conditioning difficult to substantiate. Scientists in France and the Czech Republic have also had some success in teaching grey parrots to label items referentially using human language, albeit using a different teaching methodology to that of Pepperbergwhich was found to be ineffective in the case of the particular birds within the study. Alex , a grey parrot , had a vocabulary of about 100 words, substantially fewer than world record holders, [49] but he is perhaps the best known talking bird due to the publicity surrounding his potential cognitive abilities.

In learning to speak, Alex showed scientist Irene Pepperberg that he understood categorization like “same and different” and “bigger and smaller”. He could identify objects by their shape (“Three-corner”, “Four-corner”, up to “Six-corner”) and material: when shown a pom-pom or a wooden block, he could answer “Wool” or “Wood” correctly, approximately 80% of the time. If asked what the difference was between two identical blue keys, Alex learned to reply, “None” (he pronounced it “Nuh”).

“Prudle” held the Guinness World Record for many years as the bird with the largest vocabulary – a documented 800 words. “Einstein” appeared on many television shows and became famous for her ability to recreate sounds as well as talking. Video clips show her making the sound of a laser beam generator and an evil-sounding laugh.

In The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot by Robert Arthur Jr. , the young protagonists look for a group of talking birds, each of whom gives a cryptic clue to the location of a valuable treasure. They are used to humorous effect in the Tintin books The Broken Ear , Red Rackham’s Treasure and The Castafiore Emerald by Herg . In Puck of Pook’s Hill by Rudyard Kipling , a grey parrot lives aboard Witta’s ship.

Two LucasArts Adventure Games Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge feature talking parrots as a crucial means to solve certain puzzles. In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney , a parrot was cross-examined in a courtroom due to being trained to recall and speak details of a murder trial. In the narrative poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe the titular bird famously recites the word “Nevermore” throughout.

Talking ravens are a notable element in the series A Song of Ice and Fire by author George R. R. Martin . The 2017 Doctor Who episode The Eaters of Light depicts talking crows in Scotland at the time of the Picts ‘ wars against the Romans. It further suggests that the cawing of crows originated from their being trained by the Picts to say the name of Kar, a female warrior killed fighting the titular .

“Song structure and function of mimicry in the Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) compared to the Lyrebird (Menura ssp.)” CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link ) ^ West, Meredith J; King, Andrew P (1990). “Referential learning of French and Czech labels in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus): Different methods yield contrasting results” .

Whether you are new to avian ownership, or an experienced bird pet parent, budgies can be ideal small pets. These colorful little birds are big on character, affectionate and easy to care for. Today our vets offer a few tips on how to care for your budgie.

Why Do Birds Talk?

Birds can talk because their brain structures are similar to human brains. The two vital elements are the:The cortex controls perception, sensory information, memory, and language, while the cerebellum controls voluntary motor functions. Both parts of the brain work in tandem, allowing birds to vocalize.Because the cerebellum and cortex are located away from each other, they’re connected by a neural highway called the pontine nuclei, which transfers information between them.Researchers at the University of Alberta theorized that parrots, in particular, have large pontine nuclei, which is what allows them to talk in the same way as humans.However, they soon realized this wasn’t true and discovered that, instead of pontine nuclei, they have a medial spiriform nucleus, which performs the same function and is only found in birds.Researchers also found a correlation between the size of the cortex and medial spiriform nucleus, giving birds a more advanced pathway to becoming accomplished vocal learners and speakers.Birds have more cells in the pallium, which are the grey and white matter covering the upper surface of the cerebellum. Talking birds have more of them than those that don’t, giving them their imitation abilities.

How Do Birds Talk Without Vocal Cords?

Birds don’t have lips, teeth, or vocal cords, which is why it’s so intriguing that they can imitate human speech. Because parrots don’t have vocal cords, they can’t talk, but they can mimic the sounds that they hear.Instead of vocal cords, birds have a vocal organ in their breast called a syrinx. This is a muscular, fluid-filled cavity within the spinal cord or brain at the base of the trachea.Each branch of the syrinx features a valve that works independently, allowing birds to produce different sounds by changing the syrinx’s depth and shape.

Do Birds Understand Us?

Even though birds have impressive mimicking abilities, they’re unlikely they understand the meanings behind the words and phrases they say.When owners repeatedly interact with their birds, they may gain some contextual awareness, but this all stems from behavior rather than an understanding of the meanings.If you say “hello” to your bird when walking into a room, it will learn to say it whenever you enter the room. This will seem like the bird understands what “hello” means, but realistically, it just knows when to say it.Some birds can hold a conversation with their owners. Again, this doesn’t mean the bird understands what it’s saying.

What Are the Different Talking Bird Species?

While not many bird species can mimic human speech, parrots aren’t the only birds that can talk. Not all talking birds make suitable pets, but it’s impressive that they have these abilities.If you want to know which birds talk the most, we’ve put together a list of talking birds below:

Can Crows Talk?

Crows have similar mimicking abilities to parrots.While it’s unlikely that you’ll come across a wild crow that can talk, captive crows or birds that spend time around humans learn to imitate words and phrases.The best talking crows live in zoos and wildlife centers. They mainly caw to communicate, but they also draw upon their mimicking abilities.Crows have good memories and can recognize faces, which is why they’re able to copy human speech. They also react noisily when other crows die, highlighting just how capable their brains are.According to Corvid Research, researchers presented large-billed crows with a playback of a familiar and unfamiliar language. They discovered that they could distinguish between human languages without training.

Can Myna Birds Talk?

Ravens are one of the most intelligent bird species in the world.In captivity, ravens can be trained to talk. They can also mimic sounds, such as animal calls, flushing, car engines, and beeps from appliances.Ravens have a repertoire of around 100 words on average. They also have deep voices that they use to sing and mimic other animal sounds.Alongside talking, ravens make the following sounds:Wild ravens are unlikely to pick up human words and phrases like crows, but ravens in zoos and wildlife centers will. The more you interact with a raven, the more it’ll learn to mimic what you’re saying.

Can Starlings Talk?

European starlings are more intelligent than most other birds.They’re considered an invasive species, so they’re suitable to be kept as pets as long as they’re rescued and not bought.Not only do starlings talk, but they mimic the sounds of other animals, including goats, frogs, and cats. They also copy household sounds, including alarms and beeps from appliances.Starlings mimic to protect their territory and impress potential mates, incorporating a range of sounds into their songs.

Can Mockingbirds Talk?

The scientific name for mockingbirds, Mimus polyglottos, means “mimic of many tongues.”Northern mockingbirds aren’t as good at imitating speech as parrots, ravens, and crows, but captive mockingbirds learn to copy human sounds.Males mimic and sing more than females and boast a greater repertoire of vocalizations. That’s because males must attract females for mating and do so through their vocal abilities.

Can Lyrebirds Talk?

Lyrebirds can mimic any sound, including human speech, chainsaws, car engines, and music. They not only mimic these sounds but do so accurately.Even lyrebirds that remain free but interact with humans can mimic human speech. They listen to nearby humans and copy their words and vocal pitches.There are two main types of lyrebirds: the Superb and the Albert. Superb lyrebirds are much larger, but Albert lyrebirds have superior mimicking abilities.

Can Australian Magpies Talk?

Australian magpies living in close proximity to humans talk and mimic speech.You can’t own Australian magpies as pets, and it’s illegal to traffic them outside of their native Australia. However, they’re commonly found in human habitats, zoos, and wildlife centers.Magpies can also recognize the faces of humans and animals, highlighting the efficacy of their memories.

Can Parrots Talk?

As mentioned, parrots are among the most talented avian talkers. Not all parrot species can mimic, but those that can are good at it. The following parrot species are the most skilled communicators:

African Grey Parrots

African greys are the best talking parrots. Timneh African grey parrots start mimicking earlier than Congo African greys.A study published by Applied Animal Behavior Science found that they can use human speech in the same way as young children. Not only are they able to say basic commands, but they can recall and recite numbers.Their advanced cognitive skills make them popular pets and are why they’re regarded as Einsteins of the parrot world.Some African grey parrots amass a repertoire of well over 100 words, which they can use in context during conversations with their owners.It doesn’t even take much training to get their mimicry skills to this stage. Even leaving the TV or radio on around your African grey will encourage it to pick up new words and phrases.

Cockatiels

Amazon parrots are fun and outgoing. They’re also excellent talkers and singers, amassing an impressive repertoire of words that showcases their advanced mimicking abilities.Amazon parrots have sweeter, softer voices than most other birds. This is what allows them to sing so well.They pick up words and phrase fast, doing so with little training. However, if owners do spend time training them, their talking abilities will grow.Blue-fronted Amazon parrots are the most advanced speakers of their kind. Not only can they mimic well, but they speak in human-like tones. Other good Amazon parrot talkers include:However, while Amazon parrots are accomplished speakers, not all will pick up the same amount of words and phrases. Some are slower to learn than others, while others won’t pick any words at all.

Quaker Parrots

Quaker parrots are good talkers and mimic human sounds very well.Many quakers learn by listening to their owners, repeating what they hear. They also learn the words and phrases they find the most interesting.However, if quakers don’t develop an interest in talking, they’ll never try to talk. For this reason, not all quakers develop talking abilities.When quaker parrots talk, they make a chattering sound, which sounds similar to a radio in the background. They also speak clearly when they want to. Talking indicates they’re happy and relaxed, so it’s an upbeat sound.

Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus parrots are in the top three parrot species for their talking abilities.They can build a bank of human words and become chatty when they’ve developed an extensive enough repertoire. They’re highly intelligent birds, so they respond well to training.Eclectus parrots are also prone to self-destructive behaviors, including feather plucking and mutilation. Training them to speak provides the mental stimulation they need to be mentally healthy and minimizes the risk of stress.Train your Eclectus parrot while it’s young, or it may become vocal and noisy.

Cockatoos

Many cockatoos are expert talkers and are among the best talking bird species.There are various types of cockatoos, and while some are better than others, they all can learn words and phrases with consistent training from a young age.Out of all cockatoos, Galah, sulphur-crested, and cockatiels are best at mimicking human speech. They can say around 20-30 different words, particularly if they often listen to the TV or radio or talk to their owners.They don’t have the most extensive repertoire of words compared to other parrot species. Cockatoos also babble and say words and phrases that have no meaning. That’s because they repeat what they think they hear.If you have a cockatoo that gets words wrong, you have to accept that your bird may never become a good talker.

Macaws

Macaws have a reputation for their advanced mimicking abilities. They’re able to learn up to 100 human words and even use them in context.If you train them early enough, macaws start talking once they reach 4-5 months old. However, most develop speaking skills once they’re 8 months old.A group of macaws was once removed from an English wildlife park because they swore at guests. Five parrots were quarantined together in one room, where they reportedly taught each other curse words.Because staff laughed at this behavior, the macaws encouraged each other to swear even more. The swearing didn’t stop, so staff returned them to view to provide some light-hearted fun to guests.Also, if you get a macaw, be aware that they’re loud birds that can be noisy when they talk.

Budgies

If you’re wondering, “can budgies talk?” they possess an impressive repertoire of words, despite their small stature.In fact, they can talk better than many larger parrot species. Some budgies can learn 100 words or more.According to The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, budgies have a complex learned vocal repertoire of sounds, enabling them to mimic words and phrases better than most.It can take a while to train a budgie to talk. Once they’ve picked up some words, they find it easier to extend their vocabulary.Male budgies are better at talking than female budgies.

How To Train A Bird To Talk

Training your bird to talk is a fun, rewarding experience. However, it requires a lot of time and patience, so it must be done consistently to get results.The key is to remain positive and not to get disheartened if your bird doesn’t mimic words and phrases as quickly as you’d like. Some birds take longer than others.You can train your bird using these steps:

Learn About Your Bird

If you’ve already done your research and purchased a bird that should be able to talk, you can skip this step.However, find out more about your bird’s species to see if it’s likely to mimic. If you have a bird that isn’t known for its mimicking skills, focus on doing other activities with it instead.

Use Simple Words

Building a relationship with your bird is the best way to help it learn. Birds capable of speech tend to be sociable animals that enjoy crafting bonds with their owners.Once your bird trusts you and gets used to your voice, it’ll become comfortable and confident enough around you to start mimicking what you say. To build a relationship:

Ensure Your Bird Has Fun

While you’re training your bird to speak, make it fun by offering treats and affection as a reward for repeating the word. However, avoid rewarding your bird if it refuses to do anything.Give your bird a wide variety of sounds to repeat to prevent fatigue and boredom. If you sing the word or phrase, your bird’s more likely to copy you.

Play Recordings

Another good idea is to play recordings of the words and phrases you’d like to teach your bird.You can leave the radio and TV on to help your bird to start understanding sounds and phrases. However, don’t leave them on for too long.Never get angry at your bird. Some birds pick words and phrases up far more slowly than others. Some never learn to speak at all. It all depends on your bird’s personality and willingness to learn.

Talking bird

The earliest reference to a talking bird comes from Ctesias in the 5th century BC. The bird, which he called Bittacus,

Process[edit]

The young of some birds learn to communicate vocally by social learning, imitating their parents, as well as the dominant birds of their flock. Lacking vocal cords, birds are thought to make tones and sounds using throat muscles and membranes – the syrinx in particular.It has been suggested that mimicry amongst birds is almost ubiquitous and it is likely that eventually, all species will be shown to be able to have some ability to mimic extra-specific sounds (but not necessarily human speech).Songbirds and parrots are the two groups of birds able to learn and mimic human speech.

Parrots[edit]

The eclectus parrot (Macaws can also be considered to be good talkers as well.

Amazon parrots[edit]

Many species of the genus Amazona are talkers, including the yellow-headed amazon (

Cockatoos[edit]

Australian galahs (The yellow-crested cockatoo (The long-billed corella (

Parakeets[edit]

The budgerigar, or common parakeet (The monk parakeet (The Australian king parrot (The Indian ring-neck parakeet (The blossom-headed parakeet (The African ring-neck parakeet (The Derbyan parakeet (The slaty-headed parakeet (

Hill mynahs[edit]

Hill mynahs (tropical members of the starling family of birds) are renowned for their ability to mimic the human voice. It has been claimed that the hill mynah is the best talking bird and the best mimic in the world.

Corvids[edit]

Several members of the corvids or crow family, such as ravens, can mimic human speech. The best talking crows may be the ones found in captivity at zoos and wildlife centers.

Lyrebirds[edit]

In Australia, lyrebirds are great mimics of many sounds, including the human voice. Lyrebirds have three syringeal muscles whereas most other songbirds have four. This could make the syrinx of the lyrebird more flexible.

Function[edit]

Several theories have been proposed regarding the function of audible mimicry in general; however, these do not make a specific theory regarding why human speech is mimicked. Several of the theories will apply to only some species due to social structure, habitat and behavioural ecology.

Mistaken copying[edit]

It has been suggested that (general) mimicry of non-bird related sounds is simply a mistaken attempt to copy species-specific calls.

Flock recognition[edit]

In the wild, flocks of parrots develop distinct local dialects. Research indicates they use these to distinguish familiar members of their flock from unfamiliar birds of other flocks. Birds respond more to vocalisations that are familiar to their own, and they ostracize individuals that vocalise in a different way. Birds raised in captivity might mimic humans, particularly their owners, to gain acceptance as a member of the family (flock). If they hear a word or phrase repeatedly, they might interpret that as a vocalisation distinct to their flock. They then attempt to make the vocalisation themselves to maintain their membership of that flock. If the parrot gets no response when it squawks a natural parrot vocalisation, but receives attention or food when it mimics human speech, it has an extra incentive to repeat human words and phrases.

Territoriality[edit]

The territorial song of lyrebirds is relatively simple and substantially different from that of the sounds they mimic—including human speech.

Anti-predation[edit]

General mimicry may help a bird prevent itself or its offspring from being preyed upon. For example, the Australian magpie mimics the call of the barking owl and the boobook owl, both predators of the magpie’s young.

Auditory map[edit]

Some birds, such as the Australian magpie, mimic only those noises it hears whilst in its territory. It has been suggested that birds with complex social organisation may develop an auditory map of their territory, as well as visual, and that mimicking facilitates this process.

Cognition controversy[edit]

There is controversy about whether parrots are capable of using language, or merely mimic what they hear. However, some scientific studies—for example those conducted over a 30-year period by Irene Pepperberg with a grey parrot named Alex and other parrots, covered in stories on network television on numerous occasionsSome in the scientific community are skeptical of Pepperberg’s findings, pointing to Alex’s communications as operant conditioning.Scientists in France and the Czech Republic have also had some success in teaching grey parrots to label items referentially using human language, albeit using a different teaching methodology to that of Pepperberg—which was found to be ineffective in the case of the particular birds within the study.

Famous talking birds[edit]

Alex, a grey parrot, had a vocabulary of about 100 words, substantially fewer than world record holders,”Prudle” held the Guinness World Record for many years as the bird with the largest vocabulary – a documented 800 words.”N’kisi”, another grey parrot, is noted for his impressive English usage skills and other abilities. As of January 2004, he had a documented vocabulary of 950 words. N’kisi is believed to be one of the most advanced users of human language in the animal world.”Einstein” appeared on many television shows and became famous for her ability to recreate sounds as well as talking. Video clips show her making the sound of a laser beam generator and an evil-sounding laugh. She has been trained by Stephanie White.While not a real bird, “Grip”, an integral character in Charles Dickens’ novel

Further reading[edit]

Talking birds are used as a plot element in fiction, notably in many works by Gabriel García Márquez.