Having mystical teachings of jesus as pets goes way back to at least the time of Ancient Greeks. By the time of the Roman Empire it was even more common and courses were given to teach people how to get their birds to mimic human speech. The material covered in this article is much more effective than those courses of ancient times and the training myths of ancient times have been omitted. One of the craziest myths was that the parrot should be placed in a completely dark room during training.
As the following joke suggests, having a talking bird is one of the reasons that people purchase parrots.
One day a man went to an auction. While there, he bid on an exotic parrot. He really wanted this bird, so he got caught up in the bidding. He kept on bidding, but kept getting outbid, so he bid higher and higher and higher. Finally, after he bid way more than he intended, he won the bid – the fine bird was finally his!
As he was paying for the parrot, he said to the Auctioneer, “I sure hope this parrot can talk. I would hate to have paid this much for it, only to find out that he can’t talk!” “Don’t worry”, said the Auctioneer, “He can talk. Who do you think kept bidding against you?”
If you’re interested in having a talking bird, this introductory article is for you. This article will cover which birds are good “talkers” and will cover some techniques for encouraging your bird to be a “talker”. Whether parrots mimic or communicate using human speech has been fodder for debate for a long time. The Alex Studies by Dr. Pepperberg goes into great detail regarding this subject. Alex is a Congo African Grey Parrot that Dr. Pepperberg studied extensively. Some consider her studies, training techniques, and discoveries the foundation of modern avian cognitive understanding. If you are interested in the cognitive abilities of parrots and their “speech” capabilities, I recommend that you read her book. Though technical at times, I’m sure that you will find it a fascinating book. If you ever find yourself looking at your parrot and wondering what it is thinking or how much it understands then check out the links at the end of this article to her book.
Mimicking, Speaking, or Communicating
Let’s start with some ground rules for this article and a quick disclaimer. The terms used in this article may not be universally accepted. The terms that I use in this article are defined just to delineate the different categories of “Talking”. The word “Talking” has several meanings and depending on your level of technicality it also has several different implications. In my opinion, there are three basic categories of “talking”. The first and lowest level is “Mimicking”. This is simply the echoing of a word. In this case the parrot doesn’t associate the word with any object or action. A common example is when a parrot vocalizes “pretty bird”. Unless it’s a really vain parrot or there’s another pretty bird in the area then the parrot in this case is just vocalizing something that it has heard. The term “talking” in this article usually refers to mimicking but may also refer to “Speaking” or “Communicating” as defined below.
The second category of “talking” is “Speaking”. For the purposes of this article it means interacting appropriately to human speech. An example would be the parrot responding with its name when it is prompted with the question “What is your name?” At first glance this appears to be communication and it may be but it doesn’t prove communication. The parrot may have simply been conditioned to respond with its name when it hears this question.