Many talking birds make good pets when given the right cage, food, training and attention. But if you're not sure about bringing home a chatty feathered friend who may outlive his human companions, you might want to leave certain parrots to pirates and adopt a parakeet instead.
The Amazon Group
Blue-fronted, yellow-crowned, double yellow head and yellow-naped Amazon parrots have a reputation for developing large vocabularies with proper training. Each type grows to about 15 inches long, including their relatively stubby tail feathers. They are predominately bright green with patches of turquoise blue, stunning red or vivid yellow on their heads. Well known for their longevity – from 60 to 100 years, depending on type – these parrots mimic expressive tones as well as words, meaning you may hear some sympathy on a rainy day rather than a robotic bird voice telling you to suck it up.
The Mighty African Grey
He's smart enough to make scientists take notice, can build a vocabulary that keeps pace with a human toddler and doesn't mind asking for what he wants. The African grey parrot stands about 14 inches tall and has four toes on each foot, two in the front and two in the back. His feathers deepen from silvery tones around his eyes to dark gray on his body and lighten again to pale gray on his breast. He lives as long as 60 years and becomes very attached to his human. Unlike other talking birds, the African grey seems to understand what words mean as well as how to say them – so you might not want to ask him what those pants do to your rear-view.
The Ever Popular Parakeet
Budgies – probably what most minds see when they think “parakeet” – are only one type of the small parrots classified as parakeets. Budgies measure a petite 6 inches in length on average, including the tail, and live from 5 to 10 years. A budgie is fairly easy to tame and enjoys hitching rides on fingers or shoulders. He can learn to talk with practice, but tends to mumble, and males are more outspoken than females. Another popular and potentially chatty parakeet is the Indian ringneck. He lives about 15 years and averages 14 to 15 inches in length, but nearly half of that is tail. He can learn many words, but uses his squeaky bird voice rather than trying to match your tone.
It’s Not All Talk
Talking birds make delightful companions but don't give up their bird language once they learn people-speak. Many emit earsplitting squawks and screams throughout the day. Their cages, food, toys and treats can drain a budget fast. And these intelligent birds can get frustrated quickly without the proper attention and motivation. Some never learn to talk, regardless of the species. But if you're willing to commit and the noise factor doesn't scare you, check with an avian rescue before contacting a breeder since many shelters have numerous potential talkers waiting for perfect homes like yours.
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.