TAMING & TEACHING PARAKEETS TO TALK
You can get software to teach your bird to talk from either web site below.
Tame your Bird:
The bird should first be taught to stand on a thin stick or a pencil and later on the finger. Soon it will become so friendly that it will allow the owner to tickle the back of his neck, a form of caress which most parakeets like. Before long the young pupil will become so tame that it can be brought out of his cage and even though it may fly round the room, it will rapidly fly back to its trainer, stand on his/her shoulder and display its affection for her. In order to get the bird to perch on the finger a good plan is to put the forefinger across the front of the legs and press gently against the body. The bird will then have no alternative but to step on to the finger or fall off the perch. This taming process should be conducted calmly and with gentleness, in fact everything possible should be done to avoid scaring the pupil by your attentions. A fright of any kind in these early days of its tuition will retard progress considerably. Within a month the bird should be very tame, but the talking lessons can commence as soon as it is reasonably steady. You can also find the birds favorite treat (most like spray millet) and have this in your hand when you try and get it to perch on your finger. It will soon know that your hand is food and is safe to go to.
A longer article on Taming can be found here. The article refers to Tiels, but most parakeet taming is the same.
Intensely social, wild budgies flock together by the thousands. A pet budgie that lacks an avian family will eagerly look to you for companionship. Given consistent attention and stimulation, a budgie can live happily for its entire life as a single bird. Budgies are among the easiest birds to tame, but they still require patience and empathy. Work for 15 or 20 minute intervals in a small room so you won't have to chase and scare your budgie. To maintain a good long-term rapport, be sensitive to your budgie's moods -- don't insist on playing, for example, if your budgie is eating or napping.
Stroking: If approached with proper consideration, budgies can learn to enjoy being stroked by their owners. Most budgies detest having their feet, tails and backs touched, so avoid those areas. Budgies greet each other beak first, so start by lightly stroking your budgie's beak and the surrounding feathers. Tapping your budgie's beak lightly with a fingernail parallels a friendly beak-to-beak interaction. Your budgie may like its cere, forehead and tummy stroked as well. Many budgies like their head feathers gently blown or stroked in reverse direction, but don't touch emerging pinfeathers. Your budgie may eventually respond by "preening" your hair, or nibbling your fingernail. A healthy budgie may also regurgitate as a courtship gesture.
Teaching parakeets to talk:
Communication: Understanding your budgie's body language and vocalizations further develops your bond. When your budgie dilates its eyes, paces, pants, flattens its body feathers, raises its head feathers, or (as a last resort) bites, back off. These may indicate distress. Beak grinding or standing on one foot with fluffed feathers indicates a relaxed mode. Budgies have at least eight distinct calls, including a staccato squawk (alarm cry), and "eh-eh-eh," the equivalent of "Cut it out!" They also produce a mellifluous assortment of chirps, twitters and trills. Tame males may speak dozens or even hundreds of phrases, including word combinations. Females can talk, but tend to be much less vocal. Whether or not your budgie reproduces human speech, communicate by greeting it appropriately: Give a kiss or say, "Hi," "Bye-bye," or "Goodnight." Name each toy or food as you present it to your budgie, and you may someday hear a tiny voice urging "Time for toast? or "C'mere! Okay?" Favorite budgie sounds include "p," "b," "s," "t," and the much-favored long "e." "Pretty bird" is one of the first and most common phrases spoken by budgies. Give your budgie a name it will respond to. A non-talking budgie may recognize its name, as well as words used in meaningful context. Male or female, non-talking budgies are capable of showering you with as much love, loyalty and over-all pleasure as their English-speaking counterparts.
Human/Budgie Interaction: A budgie can be content just being near you and sharing your daily routine. Intrigued by the minutest details, a budgie will gleefully tug at a stray thread on your sweater, a hangnail or a mole on your skin. When you're on the phone, your budgie may peck the receiver and converse with it animatedly, while intermittently beak-tickling your neck or unoccupied ear. Budgies sometimes hang from eye-glasses or a lock of hair, peering into your eyes as you write. If that doesn't distract you, a resourceful budgie will jump on the keyboard or try to steal your pen. Brushing your teeth can also be a challenge with a budgie who rides merry-go-round on your hand! A budgie's slogans seem to be "the more, the merrier" and "the louder, the cheerier." Vacuums, washing machines and a houseful of guests tend to elicit bursts of chatter from exuberant budgies, accompanied by wolf whistles or bobbing dances. When you tap a tight-fitting jar lid, don't be surprised if your budgie taps back -- budgies hammer their beaks on cage bars, countertops, feed dishes, mirrors and "punching bags" such as tissue boxes or, occasionally, an intrusive human nose! Although we often see pet stores and aviaries overflowing with "common'' budgies, it's wise to remember that each is an individual. Explore and respect your budgie's unique personality; cater to its physical, mental and emotional needs. With proper care, your budgie may live 12 to 15 years. The more you learn and put into practice, the more rewards you're likely to reap from your precious feathered jewel.
For the parakeet to learn to talk it must first be tame and attached to you. A parakeet is said to learn faster from a women’s voice than a male. Most books say that the male parakeet is the best for talking because of its wider range of sounds it can make. If you only have the one bird as a pet their is really no proof whether the male is better than the female for talking. Not every bird will learn to talk. Some will only whistle while others learn many words. (Our female parakeet learned to say 'pretty bird', 'hello' whistle several ways, and make the call of an outdoor Cardinal it heard in the back yard.) Start by getting it hand trained with offerings of fruit and or vegetables such as apple, tangerine, grapes, carrot, spinach or banana. Experiment with the food until you find its favourite treat and offer it to him at the same time every day. As you give him the food you can whistle or talk short words. Note: If the parakeet is alone all day while its owner is at work it will lose some of its tameness.
Also the cage must have plenty of things for him to play with to keep him occupied. It also needs to have the chance to fly about once a day. Start with 2 or 3 short words. These must be repeated 100's of times before a parakeet can repeat them, although some will learn sooner. Some can learn in a few weeks while others may take months. If you are away during the day you can buy a tape cassette to play from a pet shop for the bird to listen to while you are out. This may help him learn faster as not all people have the patience to try and teach a bird to talk because of the repetition of the words and the time involved. The Parakeet has the ability to learn to talk in a similar manner to that of the larger Parrots. There are today in houses all over the world Budgerigars which can talk with marked ability, perform little tricks for the enjoyment of families and visitors, and which have become so tame and friendly that no pet could be a greater source of delight. Many thousands of chicks are now sold annually to be taught to talk. This is a phase of parakeet culture distinct from breeding for exhibition. It is necessary to purchase your potential 'talkie' when it is a baby only a few days out of the nest. It must then be placed in a large cage, as small cages are unsuitable for a bird of such activity.
As males sometimes make the better talkers and generally more companionable, it is desirable to purchase one of this sex. Here a little difficulty arises because it is not always easy to discover with certainty the sex of a youngster at this tender age. But some breeders become quite adept at differentiating the sex of the chicks, one method being to allow the youngster to nip ones finger, the hens even at this stage of their lives having a stronger bite than the males. If you look into the nostrils there are more signs of blue in males than in hens, even though the wattles of both sexes are at that age blue-white. Also, the ceres of males are usually more rounded and the head formation is different. When the chick is placed in the cage in the house which is to be its home, a careful watch must be kept upon it to see that it is eating properly. Parakeets will usually learn to crack the husks and feed themselves within four or five days of leaving their parents. Generally speaking women make the best teachers, no doubt because of their lighter voices, which are easier to imitate.
Starting the Lessons:
In the first place, it is advisable to teach one word at a time, not going on to another word until the teacher is sure that the previous word has been correctly learnt. A parakeet "learns to learn." Having taught it one sentence or phrase it is easier to teach it another, and then easier still to teach it a third, and so it goes on. Some parakeets can be made into good talkers quickly, others never succeed in becoming efficient. As I mentioned, it is generally accepted that hens cannot be taught to talk except on rare occasions. Although quite a number of hens have become talkers, nevertheless, they are not so suitable as males. Undoubtedly males are more friendly in disposition than hens, and for this reason if anyone desires to keep a few parakeets in a cage in the house as pets, in preference to one bird, I always advise keeping males and no hens. If a male and a hen are kept in a cage their desire to breed makes them restless and unsatisfactory. It is necessary to keep a "talkie" in a cage alone away from sight and sound of other parakeets so that the only voice it hears is the human voice. It is advisable also that the lessons should be given by one person, otherwise the bird will become confused. I have heard of some hobbyists putting into the cage of a talking Budgerigar a young chick fresh from the nest with a view to the older bird acting as schoolmaster to the younger, but I have not seen reported any particular success in this direction. A talking parakeet which shows signs of becoming an expert can be induced to learn verses of nursery rhymes by the use of a gramophone or tape. This should be placed near the cage and the same record or part or the record run through many times continuously each day, until the bird does what is expected of him. It is better to do this in sections, the bird learning one sentence at a time. Of all things the owner must have patience and plenty of time.
Do All Parakeets Learn To Talk:
Many parakeets need no special encouragement to start whistling, imitating sounds, or saying words they hear a lot. But interest and talent for mimicry varies from parakeet to parakeet. Some give veritable concepts by copying the voices of songbirds, and others can fool you with their imitations of a ringing telephone, a creaking door, or screeching car brakes. Many birds like to focus their talents on repeating words and phrases, but some are content to stay with the natural chirping and twittering of their species. Don't be disappointed if your parakeet is among the latter. The bird may develop other talents that have just as much charm. But if you notice that your bird is starting to chatter and tries to say words, it is worth your while to, be patiently encouraging. The old wives tale that a bird's tongue needs to be loosened before it will begin to talk is sheer nonsense and can give rise to cruelty to animals. All the so-called talking pills that are sold in Europe may be tasty to parakeets, but they have no influence whatsoever on the gift for speech. If a parakeet shows talent and an interest in talking this is because it wants to "have its say" in the company of humans---its new flock--and because it wants to belong. Besides, saying words the bird has heard occupies it during idle hours. A parakeet interested in talking will sit in the hand of its human friend, edging as close as possible to the person's mouth and listening entranced to the words spoken. If the person does it right the parakeet keeps learning new words and combinations.
The bird likes to hear over and over the expressions it already knows, and as new words are introduced to the vocabulary already mastered they are eagerly tried out and repeated. If this special intimacy between bird and human remains undisturbed, the parakeet is most likely to learn the new words without getting distracted. The bird would like nothing better than to indulge in this intimate talk several times a day, but most bird lovers don't have this kind of time. I have solved the problem by resorting to a tape cassette. My parakeet could hardly get enough of listening to the entire repertoire on the tape while lying belly down on the small speaker. Parakeets often use words and phrases correctly in an appropriate context. One of my parakeets was inordinately timid at first and every time I had to blow my nose, I had to warn the bird so that it would not be too frightened. I would say "Excuse me, I'm going to blow my nose." Later on the bird produced this sentence every time I reached for my handkerchief. When we played together I said much too often "My little sweetheart, my little sweetheart." When this male Parakeet later cooed with his mate, I would hear these words repeated every time. But I must admit that if your pet does not happen to have an exceptional gift the speech lessons require a lot of patience. You have to say the words you want learned hundreds of times. And by the way the commonly held assumption that females are less interested in learning to talk does not apply to birds kept singly. But if a female lives with a male, she turns her attention to other tasks and lets the male do the talking.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc. 1996