Parakeets may not have the biggest vocabulary in the parrot family, but they do have the gift of mimicry. Spend some time each day talking to your parakeet and he may pick up on a few words or phrases. Parakeets can learn just about any word they hear often enough.
Not All Parakeets Will Talk
In general, female parakeets and parakeets who spend less time with humans than birds are less likely to talk. They still have the capacity to learn, but training them is more difficult. Since parakeets imitate the sounds of their environment, the easiest birds to train are hand-raised, young parakeets who only live with people. Such birds are used to human speech and will at least try to sound human, even if they can only mumble incoherently.
Teaching a Parakeet to Talk
Teaching your parakeet to say words requires a lot of time and patience. Your parakeet needs to hear a word or phrase several times before he'll attempt to mimic it. Parakeets mimic very fast, so talk slowly or his impression of you could sound like garbled nonsense. Parakeets tend to have quiet, breathy voices, so listen carefully to your parakeet's sounds. If your training has paid off, you'll hear some words mixed in with his chirps and warbles.
Easy Words to Learn
Though parakeets can learn just about any word with enough repetition, some words are simpler to pronounce than others. Parakeets have an easier time with hard consonant sounds than soft sounds. Words like "cutie," "sweet" and "kiss" are easy for most parakeets to say. Words like "ball" or phrases like "Hi, buddy," would be more difficult. Parakeets also find long phrases or songs hard to memorize and keep in order, so teach short and sweet phrases.
Parakeets incorporate all sorts of noises into their vocabulary, and you might hear your bird go from whistling to mumbling to chirping in one sitting. There is a whole world of sounds that your parakeet hears everyday, and he might imitate any one of them. A parakeet might mimic the sounds of a door creaking, a cell phone ringing and a dog barking. You can also teach parakeets to sing and whistle.
June Mebei is a Virginia-based writer who earned her B.A. in English at Georgia State University. She began writing professionally in 2008, and has published narrative essays, editorial articles, short stories and poetry.